Historically, naturism has played a role similar to that of any other kind of uniform today: having rules to be dressed at school in a certain way is meant to reduce distinctions based on what we own and focus on other characteristics.
Germany in particular has a long-standing naturist tradition that focuses on equality and health: dropping all of our clothes does exactly the same thing as does wearing a uniform: it’s the ultimate leveller and makes it harder to exclude someone based on what they own and how they show it off. As for the health aspects, there is reason to believe that exposing the body to the elements is good for the immune system, catching sunshine increases our level of vitamin D, and moving freely does the soul good and helps keep the skin healthy.
It's interesting to note that Scandinavian countries in particular seem to have less of a hang-up about nudity than those living in warmer climes do. Their approach is very much an indoors one, of course. The naturist movement in Germany was obviously trying to emulate an innate sense of ‘nakedness being a natural state’ that corresponded to the many philosophies of the time (mid-19th century), but pushing it to the limits by introducing other elements to it, including nudity outdoors, a focus on physical exercise, games and aesthetics.
These days many places in the world have their naturist spaces. Those could be naturist beaches, holiday camps, hotels or cruise ships, but sometimes it’s just a matter of a naturist group taking over a ‘regular’ venue and turning it naturist as a matter of attraction to those who are looking to spend time out of their clothes without sticking out like a sore thumb.
It is often mentioned that ‘naturism just gives rise to people looking at other people’s bits’ and ‘it creates a sexual tension’. Well, if you have ever been to a naturist beach, you’ll see people of all shapes, sizes and ages, and it seems extremely unlikely that you’ll see anything you cannot see on those sites on the internet you will not admit to even knowing!
There is a clear distinction between going cruising in a gay sauna and lying on a naked beach or playing shuffleboard naked on a cruise ship. The sheer normality of the situation makes it difficult to even have your mind go that way, but also it is very much frowned upon and taken care of in dedicated spaces by the supervisors. Also, once the initial thrill subsides, it's just another place to be and do things you would otherwise do with your kit on.
That brings us to the last point: naturist spaces are considered safe spaces, and anything disturbing that peace will lead to quick expulsion of the person who steps out of line.
All that said, of course you do not HAVE to be comfortable being naked in the great outdoors, but you may at least want to give it a go to see if it does something for you. Indeed, it will feel awkward at first – just like a lot of other things feel strange the first time around: think sex, your public dance appearance, wearing clothes you are not used to or standing in front of a group of people and giving a talk.
Be brave, live a little!
Following up from my previous blog on nudity at home, let’s move forward one more step and consider being naked with other people around. Of course, a good start would be to be comfortable with your partner and yourself (and maybe even your kids) to become used to being naked, at least on occasion. You have likely seen all of your family in the nude at some time or other, so why be shy…
You may ask yourself under which circumstances you would end up being in the nude with non-partners or your children around. And you are right: those situations are relatively rare, unless you make a clear choice to actively search them out. One of those situations – that I personally find a bit strange myself – are naked dinner parties. You may wonder “why?” but it is actually something that those of the nudist persuasion tend to be quite keen on.
Speaking from my own experience – and yes: I hereby declare to be a nudist at home, weather and temperature permitting – whenever friends I know to be nudist are visiting, we often agree to simply be comfortable and peel off a couple of layers. That said: there is nothing intrinsically sexual or even sensual about this at this point, we simply both want to be comfortable. If our encounter leads to something more, there won’t be any clothes in the way of the proceedings. Otherwise, we’ll just be comfy and go about our cup of tea and chat.
Another space where you can ease into a state of nudity in company is a classic: the sauna! It is a space that is considered as healthy and non-sexual (although the occasional glances tell a different story, of course) and the majority of users – especially in colder climate zones – are well-versed in using this space. The heat makes you sweat out a lot of stuff, cleans the pores and gets your blood pumping. It’s important to cool down properly after each round and not skimp on the cold baths or showers and the necessary rest periods. Just saying.
Coming back to the naked aspect of saunas, it has to be said that in countries where saunas are regarded as part of life, they tend not to separate the genders and going to the sauna is considered to be an activity like so many others. Children are welcome to most saunas which to me indicates the ‘normality’ level of going there.
This said, it may be hard to find opportunities to be naked in company, unless you create them yourself. One way to find like-minded people is to join a naturist club or organisation and participate in their activities. Many of these are open to all, but if you feel self-conscious about being in the company of the other gender, or prefer small groups, be active or rather just communicate, … whichever it is you’ll probably find a group that suits your wishes.
if you feel the need, reach out to others who do the same!
Nudity is one of those subjects a lot of people are squeamish about – and yet it could be argued it’s the most natural state of being of them all. After all, covering up is very much a cultural thing and the stance towards nudity is not the same everywhere and at any time.
An easy way to return to this ‘natural’ state of being is to start sleeping naked: after all, you are likely to get tangled up in your pyjamas or nighty anyway and wake up in the shape of a tightly wound sausage in the middle of the night. There is nothing more refreshing than being able to turn around without having to unstick your night clothes from the duvet while trying to turn around…
Leaving these practical and borderline comical musings aside, there is no good reason to wear anything in bed other than to keep warm in the middle of winter when room temperatures get near freezing. Most of us have a proper duvet to keep us warm and if that is not quite enough, you could always add a blanket on top, right?
You mention hygiene concerns that “your bed linen will need washing more often”? Well: let’s be honest, most bed linens could use washing more often and even if you sleep in a pyjama, that won’t make much of a difference to a regularly washed set of duvet and pillow covers. Sleeping in the nude is only just the beginning, however: ultimately there is little time to be self-conscious about it while you are sleeping.
Ask yourself: Why are we wearing clothes at home at all beside to keep warm? If you have large windows that can be overlooked by your neighbours you may have an argument for wearing clothes. However, most of us live at least semi-secluded or can afford some level of curtain coverage. Interestingly, most of us make a point of walking around in as little in the matter of clothing when we are on vacation. Clearly, we like to stay lightly clothed whenever temperatures allow for it. Even back home you may make use of warm days to walk around in just a pair of shorts and as little as possible besides: a vest or no shirt for men, a bra or bikini top for women.
The question is this: “why cover up anything at all if it is more comfortable to stay naked?”
Obviously, we all feel slightly odd – or even a little racy – not covering up reproductive areas, but is that to do with shame, modesty or anything else? That question can only be answered by you, of course, but I’d like to state the obvious: when you are at home (most likely alone) there is no reason to be ashamed of anything and modesty is not really an issue either. Then why not drop the act and just be naked?
I dare you: stay naked longer and more often and find out how it feels
When was the last time you found your thoughts drifting away? You may have watched the rain outside, listened to the water washing the pebbles around the beach, or you were in flow. Either way, it will have taken a while before you realised it happened and you probably just shrugged it off – maybe shaking your head a little or otherwise trying to wake yourself up and get back to the business at hand.
Most of us are entrenched in daily life and nothing much will draw us out. There are always obligations: work plays a huge role and takes up a lot of time and effort, you may have family members to take care of, keep your household in working order, school runs, etc. Besides, we feel that we have to fill our free time with activities on top of all that: sports, festivals, arts, meeting friends, going out.
It’s a sign of the times that we simply won’t allow ourselves to be inactive. Inactivity is regarded as frivolous and unproductive. Modern society runs on people being run down, it seems. Daydreaming is the healthy opposite to the rat race we find ourselves immersed in! I believe that it is akin to meditation, but without the conscious effort of dropping into a relaxed state of nothingness.
Daydreaming has huge benefits, of course. If you have found yourself lost in though lately, you’ll have felt a sense of calm and maybe even joy at simply being alone with your thoughts. You have let go of the wheel and allowed your mind to take you where it naturally wanted to go. That is often the best way to get you into a state of blissful floating with the tides of your thoughts.
I believe that the ability to daydream shows that our minds are occasionally allowed to run free. Why were you so quick to dismiss these occasions? Daydreaming moments are precious and should not just be shrugged off: each of them is a special occasion to be cherished!