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Nudist Friends: Why you should want them, and why you should be them.

The following is in response to a tweet by nudist social media influencer Angela de la Cruz, who pondered:

Can you help me answering the next question: which benefits do you find of having nudist friends??

I gave a short reply on Twitter, but a few hours on, find there is more in my head on this subject, so here are my extended thoughts on nudist friends:


With friends at the 2014 London World Naked Bike Ride

Broadly, having nudist friends to share one’s naked life with, has two consequences, one more practical, one more philosophical.

On the practical side, it’s simply nice to be able to share time and space naked with other people who understand the mere act of being naked isn’t in-of-itself a sexual act, and thus don’t paint the experience with the brush of sexualisation.

I’m a bit of a nudist evangelist, so while I’ll happily spend plenty of time explaining the nature of nudism to newbies and hesitants, it is none-the-less rather refreshing to not have to explain sometimes!

It’s nice to just be able to be naked, and be surrounded by other naked people, who don’t make a big deal about penises, vaginas, breasts, and the rest. It’s refreshing when people are comfortable enough about nudity that they aren’t very obviously tying themselves in knots to try and sit or stand in such a way that they hide their most tabooised body parts. It’s more comfortable for all when people don’t feel they need to steal glances at things they feel they shouldn’t be seeing, or refusing to look even vaguely in your direction through fear they might catch a glimpse of that forbidden thing.

More basic than that, it’s the freedom to simply be naked, when for many, sharing space with a naked person is simply intolerable; something nudists have to navigate when figuring out whether they can choose to be naked in not fully-nudist or even ordinarily clothing-optional settings — Something as simple as having a friend visit your home, will often mean a nudist is forced to dress in order to accommodate the (in)tolerances of their guests.

 

I have sometimes used an analogy of absurd dress-coding as a reason to question the reasons for gathering as nudists—If for instance, the only thing in common between a group of people is the habit of wearing enormous purple top-hats, is that reason enough to choose to socialise with these people who share no other interests or points-of-view? Probably not right?

But then imagine you really loved wearing your giant purple top-hat, and basically nowhere and no-one ever allowed you to do so because for some reason there’s a taboo against this harmless garment. You’d love to wear your giant purple top-hat when you’re out shopping, or at work, collecting a parcel from the post office, in your own garden, inside your own home… Yet in all the public spheres it’s completely frowned upon, and even in the private spaces it may be restricted by the threat of who else might still be able to see you. Even very close friends largely for some reason are unwilling to tolerate you wearing your hat in their company—Well maybe having the occasional gathering of people who not only tolerate your hat, but love to wear their own crazy hats too, starts to become a bit more appealing, if as nothing else an escape from the tyranny of the anti-hat masses!

 

Beyond the practicalities of having friends who tolerate your nakedness, and understand why you feel it’s nice to be naked, there is s deeper shared mental space that comes from social nudity.

Naked you is simply more real, and so sharing your naked self with others suggests a general level of trust and openness, that maybe doesn’t exist in clothed spaces. When naked, you are not presenting a version of yourself defined by your fashion, or uniform, or cultural symbols, you are just you as you are in that moment. So you are more present, maybe even more honest about who you actually are, rather than who you try and present yourself as — Of course that doesn’t entirely come from clothing, you still have distinctive features that you shape on your body, such as hair styling, tattoos, or piercings. And you can still act like a particular version of yourself; choosing to share certain things and hide others. But you can’t lean on the props and symbols that clothing normally provides, because it’s not there.

This open honest version of ourselves we often find in nudity, in turn creates a more positive and less judgement space than we might be used to. Others who see us are less able to project their own vision of us onto us without those cues of costume, and so have to actually take in who we are, what we are interested in, and what we want to say about ourselves, in that moment. It makes for company that is more present, and more connected.

This environment is also also a huge eye-opener for people who have a vision of bodily normality defined by the beauty and fashion industries, rather than the reality of humanity’s variety. Aside from the cultural taboos about nudity, one of the biggest barriers to new nudists is the fear of their bodies being inadequate in some way. But stepping into a nudist space with other naked people, you will very quickly learn how much you really need to unlearn when it comes to what is normal with bodies. Because bodies are glorious in their diversity, their quirks, their asymmetries, their textures. The ideal body we are used to seeing in the media barely exists at all, but in reality, the huge variety of bodies and body parts that do exist is so much more interesting and beautiful. Things that people disparagingly refer to as “flaws” or “imperfections” are simply features, and we are all covered with them; a beautiful gallery of body parts and variations that make us each uniquely beautiful.

 

So those are the benefits of having nudist friends, and why I enthusiastically encourage my friends to try out nudism: It’s freedom, reality, comfort and body positivity, lack of shame or taboo, openness and honesty, trust and connection you don’t get when you hide behind the costumes of the textile world.