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Naturism and Nudism have a PR problem

Naturism and nudism have a PR problem and if it isn’t resolved the consequences could be disastrous. The problem originates from the advent of new technology social media and cultural shifts.

Often while browsing the web looking for news stories I come across ordinary people who share their clothes free experience who start by saying I am no nudist. The word nudist has become so associated with sexual nudity that ordinary people who genuinely want to explore naturist and clothes free living avoid it. Porn mongers, pervs and sex trolls have coopted the term nudist to describe their sexual activities and promote their sexual proclivities. Google the word nudist or search on Twitter and the majority of items returned will be porn related.

I can also tell you that the cultures between swinger nudism and family-oriented nudism really aren’t all that different.
Source: r/nudism

All over the internet people sport the nudist and increasingly naturist label while blogging, posting and retweeting, sexually explicit (images etc.) material. While everyone has the right to blog, publish what they want to within the law the inadequate and sometimes complicit response of the clothes free community has allowed the online porn industry to capture the word nudist and apply it to their interest. Meanwhile internet savvy so called “nudists” have been slowing intentionally reinforcing the notion that all kinds of sexual activity are perfectly compatible the non sexual practice of naturism and clothes free living.
This simply reinforces the conventional wisdom that nudity automatically equals sex. it undermines the important idea at the core of naturism and clothes free living that the practice is non sexual.

According to the XIV Congress of the International Naturist Federation (Agde, France, 1974), naturism is: a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment

The result is that people who do not want to see nudity normalized and believe the clothes free body is a sexual body gain a platform to perpetuate that view.

Early in my involvement in the upper echelons of the naturist movement it became apparent I was running into a large number of pedophiles, child molesters, child pornographers and their apologists; disturbingly disproportionate for such a small, fringe group. I had never run into such a consortium of men, in various ways, abusing children; and never have since, either. Unfortunately too many of these men I’ve met or come in contact with at naturist or nudist/naturist gatherings and events all over the U.S. move quite freely because too many, if not most, nudists and naturists, have their heads in the sand about the problem, for one reason or another. There are many who are swingers, who go by aliases or first name only so criminals move freely in the midst. Many have no problems with nude photographs of children, therefor they have a hard time distinguishing when the children become objectified commodities. This is a very dangerous dynamic that I found with the nudist/naturists. Many just want to have a nice day at the beach and frankly they don’t give a damn about much else. Overall I found them utterly naive and pathetically apathetic about what to do with the men stalking and photographing children in their midst. These pages document some, but not all, of the cases that alarm me. The Nudist/Naturist Hall of Shame more than documents the reasons why I disaffiliated myself. –Nikki

So what can be done, first let me say that I am not suggesting that anyone’s freedom be restricted or that the idea that individuals who practice naturism or clothes free living are asexual. These are two of the go to responses that folks who want to pursue sexual activity under the guise of naturism usually use.  What needed is a clear vocal response from the clothes free and naturist community. one that says it is possible to separate non sexual nudity and porn and explicit sexual behavior and not be a prude. A desire to maintain the nonsexual aspect of naturism and clothes free living does not make one sex negative, it simply means that public sexual activity has not place in those context. That includes cruising for sexual partners using nudism as a premise.

So here are some steps that can be taken by ordinary individuals:

  • Bona fide nudists and naturists should learn to effectively use the new technology. The porn and sex industry has long been innovative in their use of technology, if we don’t do likewise we in effect hand the new media space over to them.
  • Genuine naturists should eschew posting and re-posting  genitally focused photos or photos that come from porn sites in an effort to “promote” naturism or clothes free living in social media or on blogs. There is no plus side to that practice for the clothes free community. The association between nudity and porn/sex is too great to allow for that, though individuals may benefit from more views and follows.
  • Genuine naturists should call out the pretenders in our midst (regardless of race, ethnicity, creed or sexual orientation), those who continue to try to mix non sexual nudity and clothes free living for their own self interested purposes. Block them in social media. Don’t frequent their blogs, don’t settle for padding follower counts or page vies with that kind of person. They should be free to pursue their interests but not under the naturist label.
  • If you are a member of the clothes free community who blogs, tweets or posts in social media under stand the power that you have. Instead of posting images of others or any images at all just share your journey, your experience living clothes free. Posting an image of yourself online does not make you a better naturist, real nudist or true to clothes free life. Images are just snapshots in time if nothing else accompanies them. They don’t tell us about the person, the human being behind the photo. Naturism and clothes free living is about embracing the whole person in my opinion.
Inside every clothes free body is a human being

So this is the challenge as i see it at the moment. It is not an insurmountable one. All is not lost as some long time naturists and naturist organizations have taken up the call

But we need all hands on deck if this is to succeed because the stakes are high. In my opinion if these changes don’t happen the naturist and clothes free community runs the risk of being perceived as just bunch of sexual deviants and horny perverted old men.

About the author: Earl D
Founder, editor in chief, news curator

30 thoughts on “Naturism and Nudism have a PR problem

  1. Please forgive my rant, I have thoughts and try to slot them where most appropriate, but as I feel passionately, sometimes my thoughts don’t all fit together logically.
    I think that as soon as you quote a 42 year old definition you are behind the eight ball. The definition is very exclusive and does nothing to promote the inclusive nature that we are trying to generate. By the definition provided naturists should all be averse to using modern technology, reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, piercings or tattoos, etc. After all how can we live “a way of life in harmony with nature” if we are embracing non-natural enhancements? The images of “true natrurists” that profess naturist dogma but sporting shaved pubic areas, nipple, facial and/or genital piercings strike me as disingenuous. I am not against any of these things in and of themselves, just the concept that they can be considered naturist and yet sexual activity cannot. How can we hide behind the dogma of getting closer to nature and being non-judgemental if we are constantly excluding life choices, body characteristics, moral opinions? Sure, we want non-sexual social nudity to become the norm. Sure, we get frustrated by “naturist/nudist” blogs, websites and the like using images that are naturally nude bodies for pornographic gratification. Sure we want a world safe for everyone including children to be able to carry on daily activities without clothing. But for every “true naturist” that decries a “true nudist” for something or other, we weaken our argument. For every blog that denies the inbuilt sexuality of our physical bodies and that as sexual beings we will always have a physical or psychological response to the sight and/or proximity of other humans weakens our argument. It is our ability to resist the natural urges that make us human, not the absence of them. I see images every day on “real” or “true” naturist blogs that are of porn industry actors/actresses. That does not mean that they are in any way less genuine about their intent. As Bare Beach Bum stated, porn industry employees/employers are entitled to their own views on naturism and practices therein just as anyone from other backgrounds. One of the most commonly photographed and published young ladies on nudist/naturist websites also happens to be a very active porn star for both film and still photography, it doesn’t mean that her naturist activities should be nullified. At what point does naturism become art become porn? There are many images taken on beaches blogged and re-blogged on “true nudist” sites that are obviously voyeuristic and non-consensual, mostly low angle of women’s genitalia. These, I believe, are the more damaging images for the naturist cause because it scares people into believing that if they frequent a nude beach/venue they may have their genitals photographed and used for internet titillation. “Nudity does not equal sex” is a phrase often bandied about by “true naturists” but neither does “clothing equal no sex”, they are separate but ever present realities. Neither clothing nor the lack of it automatically means sexual activity, or the lack of it. I have known ladies known as “Service Providers” (and that is exactly what they are) with higher moral standards than lawmakers and religious leaders.
    If we are to truly advance the cause of clothing free living, we need to adopt a MORE inclusive doctrine rather than “weed out the undesirables”. The gay movement made leaps and bounds into mainstream after including Lesbian, Trans, etc, etc. We need to de-mystify both nudity AND sexuality to remain current, not try to segregate ourselves further. Sexual predators and manipulators can never be eradicated whilst there is a “deviant” or “naughty” association with consensual sexual practice or nudity. As long as breasts are enforceably covered to avoid offence, they will continue to be sources of titillation and sexual obsession. As long as sex is considered unfit to be seen by under 18’s or hidden away in private, there will be those that use that to their advantage and there will be exploitation. I do not advocate sexual activities between adults and children, I find that abhorrent because the child is too easily under duress and without informed consent, but they should not be completely insulated from it’s existence. Far better to censor violent imagery and events. Stop being so judgemental of the life choices of others and start living life yourselves.

    1. Thanks for sharing your “rant” couldn’t disagree with you more. Normalizing nudity or clothes free living has nothing to do with sexuality. In so call “primitive” cultures where people walk about all the time with little or no clothes sexuality is automatically attached to simple nudity. But you clearly said it is a rant so that’s all that needs to be said

  2. A philosophy is not something to be kept hidden behind walls. That’s the problem with the whole resort idea. The old “what goes on behind the walls” attitude. If it’s hidden behind walls, there must be something naughty going on. I think sometimes resorts do more harm to nudism and naturism, than help it. If someone is unenlightened about nudism, they’re usually not going to pay a fee, subject themselves to a background check, and submit to a list of rules just to experience nudism. You’ll see far more young people at beaches on a given day, than at resorts. Beaches are free, there’s no rules but Public law, and if needs be a group of regulars that will send the pervs packing. Nudism needs to be brought out from behind the walls so it’s true meaning will be understood.

  3. Not just PR, but a whole change in image, approach and attitude is required on the part of the old timers if they want to attract more new folks in to the fold.
    I am just quoting one of my personal experiences below:
    Used to regularly frequent a resort and a few years ago, came across a lot of seniors during an AANR convention and one of them came up to me and said – nice to see “colored folks” enjoying nudist activity. My gentlemanly side prevented me from giving it back to him in spades, but that did leave a nasty taste in the mouth because he may still be clinging on to his nineteen sixties mentality and such views are not going to score points with young naturist families.
    That aside, have felt that beneath all the smiling exteriors there appears to be a strong factor of non-trust with newcomers and their families.
    Needless to say, nudist activities have taken a backseat now as other real life commitments and kids activities take precedence and moreover the very thought of having to deal with such bigots have put me off completely from dabbling with it anymore.

  4. I think we need to do a better job of promoting nudism as a philosophy instead of an activity. When we provide vague and inconsistent explanations of what we’re all about, people inevitably “fill in the blanks.”

    Of course, it’s exceedingly difficult to battle misconceptions when we have sanctioned nudist resorts hosting “naughty schoolgirl” dances, wet t-shirt contests, lingerie dances, and parties for (wink, wink) “fun-loving couples.”

    It’s tough to maintain a consistent, unified message when our community is rooted in a loose network of businesses and organizations, each with its own definition of nudism. How can I explain what nudism is, if the sanctioned resort down the street pays the bills by getting patrons ripshit drunk on fishbowl margaritas, while women stroll the grounds in negligées?

    I think we need more clubs like Bare Oaks Park, clubs that understand the importance of educating the public and preserving the nudist philosophy. We need more bloggers offering fresh and original content, instead of simplistic “naked is fun!” memes.

    Thanks for the excellent article.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment and feedback. I think you are correct that Bare Oaks does a good job sharing the principles. The big lesson I think that can be learned is not just that they shared the principles but HOW they share them. They are prime example of making good use of social media. They are on Facebook (despite the FB censorship) to reach a particular demographic. They do podcasts a very popular way for another demographic to get information. So they are doing what I think all of us need to do learn how to use new technology well.

      You make some good points regarding the philosophy part of it. But I am not sure we live in a world that makes those kind of distinctions anymore. I think what we are talking about isn’t just philosophy or activity it both, two sides of the same coin so to speak. I think the challenge is to find a way for people embrace both aspects of the practice at their pace without violating the core principles. Thanks again for sharing your perspective and adding to a meaningful conversation.

  5. I’m gonna save this article and share it anytime I see on FB some so called nudist posting an obviously sexualized photograph to try to educate the guy as to why what he’s doing is not in the spirit of naturism.

  6. A well thought out article that gets it right. But this is not a new problem. Since the very beginning of the movement, about a century ago, there have been people who have exploited it. They objectify our bodies and sexualize our activities and give themselves legitimacy by using the moniker of naturism. The fact that the activities are contrary to our values is completely ignored by them. So is it any surprise that the general public can’t tell the difference?

    When Dr. Maurice Parmelee published the first English-language book on the philosophy in 1927 (he called it Gymnosophy) it was considered obscene due to the presence of a few small pictures that contained full frontal nudity. With a lot of help from the ACLU, he won an important set of court cases partially based on free speech. It was not long after that many “nudist” magazines started appearing whose content was clearly not consistent with the ideals that the movement was espousing.

    Often naturists and nudists we willing accomplices to the deception — either because they did not really understand the movement’s philosophy or because they needed the money. (the end justifies the means?) You can still see that today. One of the most egregious current examples is the Ponderosa Sun Club in Roselawn, Indiana who hosts Nudes-A-Poppin’ once a year; a nude beauty pageant that attracts adult entertainment stars and clothed attendees who come to meet them and take their pictures. The rest of the year they claim to be “a family oriented nudist resort”.

    Naturism when it started in the late 19th century and early 20th century was a movement about health. Initially it was about physical health. But it later evolved to include psychological health and equality. It was never ABOUT nudity. Taking your clothes-off was a tool that facilitated the objectives of the movement. As stated in the article above that quotes the INF definition, naturism is “characterised by the practice of communal nudity”. This is what many people have forgotten.

    At Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, we believe in those traditional values of naturism which one of the reasons we are not clothing-optional. We refer to “Ethical Naturism” because there are so many different ways that people define being a naturist. If you are interested, you can read more about that at:

  7. Reblogged this on Look at Both Sides Now and commented:
    This is written very well. I agree the terms nudist and naturists have been misappropriated by the porn industry. True naturists do need to take our community back and I like your idea of using the new social media more effectively.

  8. I share your concerns and have been actively blocking. I also comment on blocking tweets with the hashtag #pervandpormsternotnaturists so that other naturist can choose to block or not as the case may be.
    Reposted on Facebook

  9. Yesterday I wasn’t going to comment on this topic, but today I feel different because of an ongoing discussion I’ve had with a fellow nude art model friend of mine. I agree with your basic premise about naturism having a PR problem, but I’m going to take it from a bit of a different perspective. Let me start by saying that you guys may decide to block my Twitter feed because I will stray on the sexual side of things on occasion much like the Tumblr blog above. I have friends in adult entertainment, and they are perfectly normal just like us. Much like the human body, I feel that sex is natural and normal…in the proper context.

    I believe that society’s misconceptions about nudity are the same as with sex. Although we don’t want to admit it, the two are intertwined. You can’t read an article about naturism without a sexual reference even if it is to state the redundant “nudity is not sexual.” The real PR challenge, in my opinion, is how to promote the wholesomeness and normalcy of naturism/nudism while accepting with alternate sexual beliefs. We profess that we are an open and accepting group of which I know, because that is what really attracted me to being a nudist. I know several nudists that are homosexual, bisexual, asexual, swingers, adult entertainers, etc. but sexuality does not enter into the practice of naturism and social nudity. I AM NOT advocating any of the perverse and disgusting behavior that Nikki mentioned above.

    The Internet and social media is a bit different because it democratizes the press and allows individuals to express their desires and beliefs. The great thing about individualism is that we all have a diversity and spectrum of beliefs. Group-think is the trap that leads to totalitarianism, and that is not our style. I’m a proud naturist but I also accept other lifestyles and people that work in the sex industry as long as they are not exploitive and abusive. I believe that if society had a healthier attitude towards all of these things then there would be less sexual abuse, porn (exploitive or objectification adult entertainment), and better respect for our fellow humans of all sex. Much like nudarist2’s “Breaking Shame” blog , I may mix these topics to convey my point of view. Should that view exclude me from participating in the naturist community? I don’t think so because I discuss those topics in the proper context. Believe it or not, most people can discern the difference between these topics. I am just as vehemently opposed to any sexual behavior in social nudity settings as any purist.

    I agree that we should block and ban any posers and people posting porn in the name of naturism, but we should be more tolerant of blogs like “Breaking Shame” as long as they don’t confuse the issue. Just like the textile world, we come in all shapes, sizes, and beliefs.

    That still leaves us with a PR issue. I cringe every time I read an article about nudity/naturism in the MSM because they have to make snarky comments or add double entendres. I am sick and tired of “downward dog” comments when discussing nude yoga. Once in awhile a good article is written like the one about the Sidney Skinny. When we write or give interviews, we need to choose our words carefully and even discuss the tone of the article with the reporter. We are discussing our cause in a serious manner, and we expect to be taken seriously and not as a topic to generate readers. In my discussions about naturism, I refrain from even going towards anything sexual. I discuss the wholesomeness and family aspect. I feel that if I don’t mention sex then they won’t equate it as such either.

    I don’t mind celebrities like Chelsea Handler or Scout Willis promoting the cause because they are doing it respectfully and gaining more attention than we could. We should embrace these women while ignoring the Kardashians and others that do it for shock value or publicity. I would like to see more publicity and public discussion on naturism. It is something long practiced but kept hidden in the shadows while other causes have taken the spotlight. I think the values of naturism are more important now than ever and we should be broadcasting the body/image positive aspects.

    I know that my comments and thoughts are controversial in the community, but I wanted to throw them out for discussion. I don’t see this topic in black and white like others, but I know that most people in this community are open minded enough to accept my beliefs. Please comment on them. I welcome the constructive discussion.

    1. Whether you or I find the subject to be more than black or white doesn’t really matter. Society sees it as black or white. No matter how high minded we might want to be about accepting others the association still carries traction. I am reminded of the old saying “If you lie down with dogs you will get up with fleas.” With the many other dilemmas facing naturism and the clothes free community we can ill afford any fleas. Finally I made a point of saying that the folks who follow adult entertainment or sex oriented folks in social have every right to do so and I have no desire to even try to stop them. However I am others who believe as I do have every right to vigorously work to disassociate from them and those they follow. In my opinion this has nothing to do with being open minded or sex positive or prudish. It is simply a matter of choice for the naturist and clothes free community. Each person has the right to choice who they associate with you have made yours I have made mine and invite others to do the same with the interests of naturism and the clothes free community in mind.
      I would also encourage you to read the other comments as well in particular the comment by @hontouniheart who speaks to the discouraging nature of this for women new to clothes free living. Women are hesitant to get involved in clothes free living because of the associations that come with it. If we are to grow the community women need to find a more welcoming place and most cannot with the associations that you embrace.

      1. I respect your opinion although I don’t totally agree with it. I give most people more credit to differentiate the two. We could debate your “flea” analogy but I get your point. It is a sometimes free world, and it is your blog to do as you like. You can follow and promote who you like, and I’m okay with that too. People can choose to follow who they want and you can make your case for not following someone deviating from the pure concept of naturism. As for me, I hold the same values as the rest of us concerning naturism/nudism and I will continue to support and promote them just as you will do. I just hope that you will not devalue my contributions because of my other beliefs even though you may not follow them.

        1. I am sorry to say but we don’t share the same views or values about naturism or nudism. I am not an exhibitionist, I am not interesting in bringing my private sex activities into the public sphere. I don’t believe we share the same definition of the terms naturism and nudism. This is am open forum as long the conversation is keep respectful and no one is personally attacked so you can share your perspective but there will always be opportunity for rebuttal.

  10. Loved all that you had to say.
    In relation to attracting young people to a clothes free life, I have seen this challenge in the face of resorts and non-landed clubs first hand. There are new programs offered, student discounts, and social media advertisements. Yet numbers keep decreasing.
    I believe in a sense the effort is being made to retrofit an old school “club mentality” into a post-modern generation. The competition with hedonistic, western culture is on going. So we look for the bait that will draw young people out of it into a place young people can escape body judgment and be free.
    All the while, I think we can forget our first love. -what first drew us to social nudism. For me, I never would have directly visited a resort or club. It wasn’t out of any misconceptions of what they were about. Anyone who is curious, can look up an AANR resort online and get the truth about a nonsexual atmosphere.
    It was a dare to myself at some hot springs. The feeling of being naked in nature with other people around was exhilaratingly normal. I annoyed my friends at home with my new found joy. All my thought was bent on getting back to that place. After 9 years, my wife now with me, the joy is still there.
    But I believe the best way to market it, is live it. People will do what they were already inclined to do before hand. Sometimes you just have to see what the “cool kids” are doing to get that little nudge.

  11. It’s a real shame as the porn industry has been hijacking our lifestyle for some time, along with social media and even the entertainment industry.

  12. One more thing, and then I promise to close the Google Chrome tab for the night:

    People keep asking the questions about “why aren’t more women into naturism?” young people, these people, other people… why aren’t they into it?

    I don’t have the answers for all that, but in my personal identity as a young woman, THESE that you mention here are some of the major reasons. It was not just about body confidence and whatever the surface. Actually body confidence was like way low on the issue list for me. It was THIS stuff. Contextless images of naked people came off as creepy to me. People retweeting, reblogging images of young nudes read as “creepy” to me. All the stuff you mention here, and more, are reasons why I was like, “wow, this is all kinda hella creepy” when I first started. It was jarring. It was confusing. It was a lot to take in and sort through. But again, people were so “la la la, I don’t see the problem” and then put on the judgment hats rather than listen.

    closing tab now. for real this time.

    1. One young nudist blogger awhile back put it like this: younger nudists don’t like resorts because they feel like they’re back under the supervision of mom and dad. I get that. The beach we go to always has young people. They’re free to chill, light up a joint, and not get finger wagged by anyone.

  13. This is a really important topic, one that brought back a lot of things with which I wrestled in my 1st year of clothes freedom. I want to make a couple of really important notes that support this argument based on my 1st year entry into clothes free life. Your line about bona fide naturists keeping their head in the sand is really important, because that attitude is actually what created, for me, this feeling that there was something wrong with me when I first started.

    – When newdies come to clothes free life (including women), shut up and listen. What do I mean by that? There were times when I’d make a remark about something that was uncomfortable that I read or that I had a question about… and people would respond by saying that I should get over myself, build my confidence and learn the good from the bad on the internet. While I absolutely had to be responsible for my own life, their point and shake the finger attitude put the blame on me while neglecting to acknowledge these very issues you bring up. The images that people shared online, even from “well meaning bona fide” naturists … a lot of them made me uncomfortable BECAUSE of the very things you mention here. They were images without context. They were images of young people that these folks didn’t know. Stolen images. Reused images. Things with no soul. It made me think that the focus was all about the body, and that this was really just a playpen for a bunch of people to salivate over the next nude selfie. So, when newdies come and have questions or talk about something that makes them uncomfortable, rather than make them feel like they’re stupid for feeling a certain way, shut up and listen. Pay attention to the stuff they are pointing out. Stop telling them to “get over themselves” and just listen and observe.

    – Stop shoving the internet aside as, “oh well the internet is not real.” This goes to your point about becoming familiar and savvy with regards to technology. Yes, the pervs are really really savvy in what they do. Yes, they are crafty. But in addition to that, as much as people say the internet is not the same as real life (indeed, it is NOT the same as real life), it’s still real as the internet. People use it to share information that we read. We search for definitions, articles, whatever using the internet. We do so much with it. I had a lot of beef about the images and messages that came across the various social media platforms that caused a lot of confusion. And people kept using this excuse of “well it’s the internet, it’s not real life.” Yeah, but, it still has an impact. Stop putting heads in the sand about the internet and realize that this thing has an impact. Doctors Without Borders raises money via the internet. I’ve supported many friends’ projects via GoFundMe to bring those projects to life. People meet people and start a road to love from the internet starting point. I have friends who met online, go together and person and are happily married for years going now. People earn degrees online. REAL accredited degrees. Business run. No, it’s not the same as in person happenings, but it’s still REAL. Get active in turning the tides about how this stuff is used, take charge of these media to move the conversation in healthy directions. It annoyed me to no end that people kept tossing my 1st year concerns aside with, “oh well it’s just the internet, it’s not real.” It’s impact is real. No more excuses. ACTION.

    I have more thoughts, but my fingers are tired from fussing. I’ll take a breather. Thanks for starting a discussion.

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