“The Nudist Writer”

underwood_nude_1910sIt should come as no surprise by now that I choose to live my life sans clothing. Naked is my default state. I long for the day when I can be free from the branding of Polo and Ralph Lauren. I only feel myself when I am wearing nothing.

But far more important to me is writing. I eat, drink and breathe storytelling. On many occasions I have gotten out of bed with a plot in my head. From the time I was six, I have been coming up with adventures, and that was thirty-seven years ago. Story matters. As Ursula K LeGuin put it, “We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel … is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”

While Mark Twain famously advised to “write what you know,” LeGuin said, in response, that she writes about dragons because what she knows is dragons. Fantasy storytellers draw from personal experience while adding from the fruits of their imagination. Herman Melville tapped into his experiences on a whaling ship to create Moby Dick. In the same way, I know what it’s like to leave my clothes behind to explore the woods, to search rocky shorelines without a stitch to my name, to socialize without body taboos. I have also experienced the sense of shame imposed upon me by those who would judge my lifestyle as perverse or just plain weird, as have my naked heroes, Xandr and Thelana.

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Nudism informs my writing, even when my characters don’t think the way I do. Shame is a universal trait, and I would be a poor writer to neglect it. But what we wear, or don’t, is a big part of who we are. It is entrenched in our history and religion, and reflects strongly upon our values. A society’s attitude toward the human body speaks volumes about that society. Do they consider themselves a part of the animal hierarchy or apart from it? Do they shun the physical world, and the senses associated with it, or seek a more spiritual reality? Answering these questions provides a fictional world of greater richness and realism.

Having a unique perspective, we are told, is a good thing. But unlike atheism, LGBTQ+ or even, if Fifty Shades is any indication, bondage porn, I increasingly get the sense that nudism is just too different. Time and again, agents have rejected Ages of Aenya on the grounds that the concept isn’t “trending.” When I attempted to advertise my novel via social media, both Facebook and Twitter called the book, with its innocent cover of Thelana, “sex services.” Even Barnes & Nobles shied away from my offer to host a signing event, despite the many racier covers adorning their shelves. It would seem nudity is OK, but only in a sexual context.

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Sex services. Obviously.

It isn’t as though our sense of touch is entirely alien. Who doesn’t enjoy sunshine on their bare skin? A hot shower? Cool bedsheets after a session of lovemaking? Advertisers, all the while, continually use words like “nude” and “naked” to suggest their products are honest and all-natural. Clearly, nakedness is a good thing, and on some deep level we all know this.

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The nude archetype persists in our subconscious. We all wish for the same confidence, strength and beauty embodied by the heroic nude. It is an expression that has been with us since the Ancient Greeks, and continues to this day in the form of the superhero, who is all but nude but for the coloring of the skin, and in ESPN’s celebration of athletes.

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The heroic nude in modern times

We are simultaneously repulsed and attracted by the human form. This dichotomy, I believe, stems from an overemphasis on demographics. Fiction must be placed either in the Children, Adult, or YA sections, and nudity can never fall into any category but porn, because in our modern world nudity = porn. And it should be noted here, that DC’s recent adult comic, Batman: Damned, showcasing Bruce’s penis for the first time, is far from a nudist portrayal, as his genitals are made the emphasis of the panel, existing for no other purpose but to shock.

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Enlightened heroines are expected to wear full plate armor, without so much as hinting at the female shape beneath. This is considered progress, an improvement over the hyper sexualized covers of the 60s and 70s, and likely the reason Thelana isn’t trending. But it is progress leading to a more sterilized world, where neither sex is recognized. Equality could just as well have been achieved by giving the female hero agency, and stripping the male of equal parts clothing. Gone are the gods and heroes of church ceilings and museum walls, the renderings of mankind so proudly and masterfully born of the hands of Leonardo and Michelangelo, and this to me is a tragedy, because in censoring how we portray others, we turn every person into a potential object, a thing to satisfy our most basic urges.

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The modern heroine

This isn’t to say women in chainmail bikinis are preferable. On the contrary, Brienne of Tarth, and Netflix’ She-Ra, is a welcome change. What I am saying, rather, is that a woman need not be objectified, regardless of what she is or isn’t wearing, and that we need not choose between our sexuality and our humanity. In our current MeToo generation, we pretend to have matured beyond smut, while creating secret identities to wallow in the worst of PornHub. Instead of learning to express our desires in meaningful, honest and healthy ways, or reaching out to better understand the opposite sex, we have chosen to don the facade of robots devoid of passion. This societal schism, this partitioning of people into categories, cannot lead to a better world. More than anything, we need the heroic nude, our David and Heracles, our Mowgli and Tarzan and John Carter and, dare I say, our Xandr. We must embrace role models that embody the full gamut of what it means to be human, sexuality and all.

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Fantasy covers of the 70s

I am a nudist and a writer, and my fear is that I will be pigeonholed, that my work will be confined to an esoteric niche group. After all, we don’t typically call people gay writers, or Catholic writers, or Japanese writers—or by any other aspects of their identity—unless that identity becomes a focal point of their work, “feminist writer,” for example. Still, nudism is far from a fetish. It addresses a much broader spectrum that includes feminism and environmentalism, and it speaks to our most revered cultural values. While you may not see Sam Harris or Jordan Peterson debating the merits of nudism any time soon, it should be noted that they both conform closely to societal norms, of not simply wearing clothes, but wearing very specific types of clothing. Whether it’s President Trump or Barack Obama, Ken Ham or Neil deGrasse Tyson, ties and jackets are mandatory if one is to take your arguments seriously. This only goes to show how entrenched body taboos have become in our world. But while my upcoming second and third novels will have no naked heroes in it, to shy away from calling myself a nudist would betray everything I am, and rob the literary landscape from a rarely heard voice. Like Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman and Robert Heinlein, all of whom shared nudist proclivities, I stand outside of convention, and challenge the status-quo. I am Xandr standing at the gates of Hedonia, calling out against hypocrisy, searching for the lost innocence of Ilmarinen.

Ages of Aenya Launch Day!

It’s Ages of Aenya launch day everybody! Today, after ten years in the making, my book officially goes on sale on my new author site, nickalimonos.com! It’s available on Amazon, but you can get it directly from me at a discounted price, with free full color maps of Aenya. You can also find exclusive Aenya-related artwork, by Zhengyi Yu, Alexey Lipatov and Frans Mensink, at my store.

If you have been following this blog, have any interest in Aenya or in my naturist heroes, or if you simply love fantasy adventure, you can’t miss picking this up!

Welcome to the world of Aenya!

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GET IT NOW!

Aenya Newsletter 9/01/2017

Greetings, fans!

The question I am most asked about Aenya is the most obvious one: when the heck is the book coming out? All I can say is, be patient. I admit to being a bit slow, but it’s only because I abhor the thought of releasing anything but the very best possible work. I’d also like to point out that, as a struggling writer, I, among others, are embarking upon a new age of independence. The big publishers are bleeding money, and as a result, have become increasingly mired by conformity. Vampires. Zombies. Apocalyptic teenage romances. Gritty Game of Thrones wannabes. And when something like 50 Shades of Grey makes a bajillion dollars, we get inundated with bondage porn, and an entire new section at Barnes & Nobles. Now, I don’t really blame the booksellers for this. They are simply doing what they need to survive. As I put it in my new bio:

Since starting out on this journey, nearly three decades ago, the literary landscape has changed. My dream of dropping a manilla envelope at the post office, to have a cigar-smoking editor in New York scream with delight at having found the next great author, is just that, a dream. We are living in a time when bookstores are shutting down and publishers are going broke. People have more addictive things to do these days, like staring at their phones and Netflix. We may be living in the last days of the written word, before the novel goes the way of the play, and I am well aware that the demands of the writer are greater than ever. On the other hand, the stigma associated with self-promotion is quickly fading. This is largely due to things like Kickstarter and YouTube. We are fast discovering that, not only can an independent entertain us, but that they can often be more humorous, and more sincere, than what’s on TV. In the literary world, the advent of e-books has become a double-edged sword, delivering a lot of pulp but also, some pretty great out-of-the-box writing we might never have otherwise seen.

In other words, independents have an even higher bar to jump than your average published writer. The Aenya series must not only be as good as your Tolkien, Martin, Rowling clones, but superior.

OK, getting off my soapbox now.

This summer, I took the family to London, because frankly, it is the world’s capital of great fiction. Being the literary geek that I am, I was only too thrilled to pick up C.S. Lewis, and the late great Terry Pratchett in the original Queen’s English. I was also frothing at the mouth touring Oxford University. But it was in the British museum where I rediscovered my inspiration for Aenya.

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Hero fighting a centaur

This is part of the “Elgin marbles,” named after Lord Elgin, whom my people blame for “stealing” from the sculptures of the Acropolis complex. Greek politics aside, this frieze, which originally adorned the pediment of the Parthenon, shows a Greek hero, possibly Heracles, fighting a centaur, possibly Nessus. For those of you in the know, I first featured Nessus in The Dark Age of Enya. He is responsible for giving Xandr his scar. Unfortunately, I had to cut the scene from Ages of Aenya, but that doesn’t mean I retconned the story. Nessus makes appearance in The Princess of Aenya and will probably crop up in future novels. Notice, also, how the hero fighting the centaur is entirely naked. This is a big part of my heritage. The Ancient Greeks envisioned their heroes sans clothing. It was, for them, an ideal, what has come to be called, the heroic nude. This is something I have long tried to revive in modern culture, through my heroes, Xandr and Thelana.

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Hero fighting a guard

To be fair, you won’t find any women, naked or otherwise, in combative positions on the Parthenon, or anywhere else. But this had less to do with modesty and more to do with sexism, in that the Greeks could not conceive of women as heroes.

The following day, in the Tower of London, I made another inspiring discovery. Will you just look at that sword:

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Holy crap! It’s like 7′ long!

 

OK, this might not have been a real weapon, used by a real person in battle. The Brits, just like the Greeks, loved their legends. Either way, it compares to Emmaxis, the sword hauled around by Xandr, which I have long considered too big to be practical. But just like the heroic nude, the protagonist’s weapon is an ideal, a storytelling tradition, and I do not pretend to be a historian.

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OK, if this is just making you want the book more, I give you a sneak peak at nickalimonos.com, my upcoming author site. Once it goes live, you will be able to order the book directly from there, for yourself and your friends, and every person you’ve ever met, hopefully. Ages of Aenya will also be available on Amazon.com

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Why Don’t We Live in a Perfect (Nude) World?

Confession time: I would live naked 24/7, if I could, and I suspect I am not alone in this regard. I hate clothes. They block the sunshine, the air, and most of your body from the sense of touch. They are grating, hot, and sometimes they itch, not to mention expensive and a lot of work to maintain. How much time is wasted washing, drying and folding underwear? How much water, for that matter? I believe there are many thousands, possibly millions of people, who would go without clothing if given the chance.

Cold weather and sunburn aside, clothing doesn’t seem to serve much purpose. Some people argue that it is necessary for adornment, to make us stand out, but jewelry, body paint, piercings, and tattoos can also be used to accentuate the body and express one’s individuality. If anything, a society free of body taboos allows for greater fashion possibilities. Imagine an outfit from the future, made without the restrictions imposed by shame? As for me, the unclad body is infinitely more beautiful. Evolution has been designing us for millions of years. Through a process of sexual selection, we have been deciding the qualities we find most appealing in men and women.

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Nudism allows for more fashion, not less. Here, Rihanna attends the 2014 CFDA fashion awards in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Conservatives insist clothing keeps us from engaging in wanton sex, but any nudist will tell you that an orgy has never “broken out” at a clothing-optional resort, and in fact, becoming accustomed to bare skin helps us to control unwanted urges. In Muslim countries, women are often blamed for rape, the assumption being that men cannot resist revealing attire. While sexual violence is never excusable, accusing the victim is always more prevalent in societies with stricter dress codes. Liberal minded individuals, on the other hand, contend that clothing is simply our natural state of being, that we are animals with removable layers.

Ages ago, we lost our fur (we’re actually in the process of losing it still) to shed body heat quickly, which helped our ancestors chase down prey over long stretches of land. Even today, a marathon runner can outlast a horse in a long distance race. Clothing appears to have been a byproduct of losing our fur. But the parts of the body we choose to hide is largely dependent on climate, which, in turn, impacts local culture. Compare the burqa worn by Afghan women to the nakedness customary to the Bororo people. The Sahara is dry and hot and saps needed moisture from the body. Covering the head and mouth is necessary for survival in the desert. After a time, this survival technique became culturally conditioned, and as Islam spread throughout the world, so did the practice of covering the head. Conversely, the Amazon rain forest, where the Bororo live, is humid and warm, ideal conditions for nakedness.

But our lives are no longer dictated by climate, at least to the extent it once was. Throughout the world, most people rely on some form of air conditioning, so that, even in a country not ideally suited to nudity, clothing need not be worn. In Munich, Germany, there are public parks with “urban naked zones,” even though, for much of the year, the cold makes it impractical; while in Scandinavia, getting into the sauna wearing anything but a smile is greatly frowned upon. Cap ‘d’agde, France, is perhaps the freest city on Earth, as tourists can literally go anywhere, from the bank to the grocery store, in nothing but their birthday suits. But if this were a perfect world, we would not have to travel halfway across the world to enjoy such simple pleasures. We could all choose to visit a park, the beach, or even the mall as God intended. So why don’t we live in such a world? More to the point, why does the thought of public nudity strike most people with dread?

There are numerous factors to consider, of course, like religion and the media. But in a world that has largely come to accept homosexuality, religion does not hold the sway it once did. Even the fashion industry, which profits from making women feel unattractive, is losing its influence. Beauty pageants are becoming a thing of the past, a product of a more sexist age, and far fewer women are wearing makeup than decades ago. But while athletes, actresses and singers pose nude without scandal, they are having little effect on the nakedness taboo, at least when it comes to the general public. Part of the reason is the photographer’s lens, which is a form of cover in itself. The artistry of movies and magazines, much like in the Renaissance, allows for cultural exceptions. Despite our increasingly secular and liberal society, public nudity continues to shock. It’s not simply a matter of popularity. It’s not as if skin isn’t trending. For 99% of people, stepping naked beyond your front door is like jumping from a plane without a parachute. But why?

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It’s OK to be nude in a magazine, if you look like this and you’re famous.

Sure, we have nude beaches and resorts, but those who frequent them represent a tiny minority. Where are the nude cities? The nude countries? Nudists have always been outliers, challengers to the status-quo. We argue over 2% of skin, from coin-sized nipples to square inch pubic regions, which seems silly if you think about it. There is hardly any difference between a bikini and total nakedness, yet everyday beach goers never think to cross that line. It is not as if they hold some deep seated beliefs about modesty. We all do what society expects of us, just as Muslim women rarely consider the moral implications of the hijab. The freedoms we enjoy in America, from not having to wear the swimsuits of the 1900’s, is a thing we take for granted. Proper attire has everything to do with time and place. A woman in a miniskirt might get called a whore, but a grandmother in a one piece, by virtue of being on a beach, is deemed more modest. Once, it was taboo to go to certain venues without slacks and a dress jacket, like to church or a fancy restaurant, and we are likely to be shocked if the president addresses the nation in only a tank top.

In most situations, nakedness elicits a sense of shame, and shame can be a powerful emotion, one that overrides our reason. Sometimes, it can even be destructive. Sexual predators use shame to hide their actions. It is a tool used also by racists and bigots. For how long have LGBT people lived in fear of public humiliation and ridicule? Peer pressure is another form of shaming. The desire to “fit in” can be so powerful, teenagers will ignore their better judgment to engage in destructive behaviors, like drinking, smoking, using drugs and having unprotected sex. But the question remains, why does shame have such a powerful impact? The need for acceptance is as primal as that for food and water. Again, the question is why?

Like most of human nature, the answer can be traced to evolution. If the Discovery show, Naked and Afraid XL, has taught me anything, it’s that primitive survival is hard. We are a social species, relying on one another for our basic needs. The romantic notion of Adam and Eve, living alone in the wilderness, is just that, a notion. While real-world examples of Tarzan, Mowgli and Robinson Crusoe have been recorded, they are always the exception, never the rule. Our earliest ancestors lived in communal groups, divvying tasks to each member of the group. While a small band of young men went hunting, those who stayed behind had to raise the young, stoke the fires, maintain the shelters, find and maintain clean sources of water, and gather fruits, nuts and vegetables. Every one of these jobs was essential to survival, and no one person could be expected to perform them all. Even the best, modern day survivalists depend on modern equipment, medicine, emergency paramedics, and a home to return to, if all goes bad. This is why we have such a strong need to “fit in”—because, in prehistoric times, not fitting in could very well mean a death sentence. Shame, then, is a gauge to help us determine how best to fit in, to better align ourselves with our communities. People with no sense of shame were likely to become outcasts, who did not survive to pass on their genes. Maybe this is where we get the phrase, “I’d die of embarrassment,” because, historically speaking, “dying from embarrassment” was a legitimate concern.

Today, we no longer worry about survival like we once did. If we are socially ostracized, we have the option to move to another community. Nobody is likely to “die of embarrassment” anymore. But shame continues to be a part of us, just like our spleens. This is why we can never live in a perfect, free world. Even the staunchest of nudists are prone to this gene. Free body articles (like this one) pop up almost on a daily basis, but I can count on one hand the number of bloggers willing to offer their real names, or to post nude selfies. Those of us who long for a nude world continue to hide in anonymity, never telling our coworkers, friends or families what we believe. Though we can never hope to get rid of shame entirely, we can change the things we consider shameful. Just like in the Amazon, Celtic Europe and Ancient Greece, nudism can become our tradition, so that when someone in the future goes to a beach, the only exposure they’ll have to worry about is exposure to the sun.

I once dated a girl who had never visited a nudist venue. Before meeting me, going nude in front of anything but her bathroom mirror was unthinkable. But she liked me a lot, and was willing to join me in an outing to Paradise Lakes. To make her feel at ease, I stressed that she didn’t have to go au natural if she didn’t feel like it, since the resort was clothing optional. But after an hour of lounging by the pool, she started to feel out of place. She was in a different community, where everyone was naked. I kept telling her, “It’s OK, don’t worry about it,” but eventually, out of a sense of shame, she got rid of her bathing suit.

We may not live in a perfect nude world, but the Ilmar do, or did for most of their history. In Ages of Aenya, I envision a world where clothes do not exist. When this primeval paradise is lost to climate change, Xandr and Thelana are forced to confront civilization, and the prejudice that comes from rejecting the human body. You can read about the Ilmar and their adventures by following the link below. It is the first naturist epic fantasy written by a lifelong naturist.

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NOW AVAILABLE

 

 

Fifty Shades of Nudism

This is what shame looks like, folks!

After my first visit to Paradise Lakes clothing optional resort, I had a dilemma. To tell or not to tell? Eventually, I figured, I could never be happy unless I let the cat (or should that be penis?) out of the bag. I eventually told everyone I knew, family members, friends, coworkers, you name it. Their reaction was odd bemusement, mostly, “You? You’re that kind of person?” Another friend asked the direct question, “So, is there lots of sex there?” This was a girl with her share of provocative escapades. Of course, I had to correct her, explaining that the place was innocent, for families with young children. If they had understood nudism, I believe their reaction would have been the opposite. “Oh, you? That makes sense.” Truth is, I am and have always been extremely reserved. I am an introvert and I hate being the center of attention. I do not go clubbing, have never smoked or done drugs, and have never once tasted alcohol. The girl who took my virginity is the person I married. Hell, the Amish have lived it up more than I have.

For me, nudism has always been about innocence, the fact that we can look at our bodies without thinking of sex. Once everyone knew of my peculiar lifestyle, everything went back to normal. Nobody ignored me or tried to humiliate me. If anything, the truth disarmed them. They just didn’t know what to say. A decade and a half later, I found myself with a similar dilemma. Do I come out to the world on the Internet? Well, in July of 2012, I did just that. And, not surprisingly, I did not become a social leper. Just look at the numbers:

Posts

Entry
Pageviews
Jul 3, 2012, 15 comments
10947
Dec 22, 2012, 8 comments
7056
Feb 24, 2012, 2 comments
5125
Nov 21, 2012, 54 comments
1719
Oct 22, 2013, 6 comments
1281
Jul 29, 2013, 2 comments
1144
Jun 18, 2011
1017
Apr 19, 2012, 16 comments
785
Dec 31, 2012
453
Apr 23, 2013, 2 comments
291

Besides Mass Effect 3, my top seven posts, by an overwhelming majority, regard nudism and naturism. Contrast that to my Princess Bride review. 33 views total! But wait, you say, type, “nude,” “naked,” “nudist,” or “naturist,” into Google and you’ll get underage girls. For a long time, I assumed my blog was getting porn traffic. However, my top post, at 11,000+, contains no nudity except for side butt (mine). In fact, the only pic to feature a young attractive girl (on this list) sits at the very bottom with 291 views. UPDATE: As of 2017, my most read article, Why Don’t We Live in a Perfect (Nude) World? stands at 30,000 views.

O.K., maybe people like to gawk at weirdos. But responses to my posts have always been positive. So what’s happening here? Quite simply, there is a vested interest in naturism itself, not just in men looking to ogle women, but curiosity about the lifestyle. It’s not just active nudists, but those who have thought about becoming a nudist and were afraid to tell anybody, or teens who wonder (as I used to) why we really have to wear clothes at all, or closet nudists who go buff at home. This is the beauty of the free information age; it allows people with unorthodox viewpoints to share their experiences.

Still, even among the staunchest of free body activists, there exists apprehension. Visit any number of Tumblr sites and you will find countless ordinary folks nude on camera, young and old, male and female alike, proof that communal nudity is far more common than people imagine. It forces me to wonder, just who are all these free spirited individuals? And yet, inspiring as it is to see, they all remain clothed by anonymity. There is truly no way of knowing who these people are. You will hardly ever find a blogger willing to post a nude selfie or their real names. I happen to be a rare exception. One female naturist stated on her blog her case for never posting a selfie, explaining that she was not attractive, and that at any rate she did not want strangers ogling her. Most responses were supportive, including one that said, “Never post a pic on the Internet, because you can’t get it back and who knows what people will do with it!” To them, I would ask, what can someone do with your picture? Worst case I can come up with, your photo gets plastered on every telephone pole in your neighborhood, but even then, so what? We don’t live in medieval villages anymore. No one is going to excommunicate you with a letter “N” on your chest. Look at it another way. Anyone who visits a cycling website (as I do) does not necessarily go to gawk at others riding bikes, and yet every cycling blogger has at least one image of himself on his bike. If you enjoy hitting the beach in nothing but your birthday suit (and how can you not?) why be ashamed to show it? So long as we hide, people will be convinced there is good reason to hide. If the people who stand at the forefront of nudism fear exposure, how can we expect anyone else to come out?

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Naked and proud!

Shame comes from without, from other people. If you woke up tomorrow to find every single person naked, in parks, on beaches, at Disney World, etc., your own shame, whether you were a nudist or not, would quickly disappear. Nudists need to overcome the shame society impresses upon them if they ever hope to change the world. A big part of the gay rights movement is pride. Wherever pro-gay events are happening, the word “pride” is associated with it. There are gay pride film festivals and gay pride parades. Remarkably, gays and lesbians managed to convince the public that homosexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. There is no better way to promote naturism than to show your pride in it. Soon after coming out to the people in my life, I made it a point to go nude in front of them, wherever and whenever possible. I found this to be a lot easier on the Greek islands, on the beach, in hotel rooms, and at my parent’s summer home. Again, I hated the attention, but I knew there was no better way to normalize my way of living. Surprisingly, neither of my sisters, nephews, friends or even their friends objected. It really is remarkable how quickly, once confronted openly and honestly, the shame of nudity dissipates. It’s like an illusion that, once examined up close, you realize was nothing to begin with.

Gay Pride Is Celebrated In London

But wait, you say, not everyone is in the same boat. Some people with religious backgrounds fear the reaction of their parents. For others, the problem is employment. I remember one female blogger in particular, raised in a nudist household, whose teaching position came under fire when her extra curricular activities were discovered. Sadly, and with little fanfare, she was forced to take her blog down. I urge every naturist to stand for their beliefs, but do not judge them if they are afraid to do so.

My situation is unusual. I make a living as a restaurateur, so there is no chance of my termination, but I am also an aspiring author. For the past few years, I have lost sleep wondering how my nudism might affect my literary ambitions. Interestingly, writers are told to: 1) Write their passions and 2) Be original. Every famous writer has a niche, whether it’s Stephen King’s New England themed horror or Tom Clancy’s military thriller. My niche is naturist fantasy, not simply writing about heroes who have adventures in the buff, but exploring aspects of feminism, equality and environmentalism inherent to the naturist perspective. Fantasy novels these days are ripe with rape and torture (see George R.R. Martin), so my fear is not that I may be viewed as obscene, but that I will become in the minds of editors a “nudist” writer, someone who caters to a specific subculture. I live for storytelling, which is far more important to me than going nude. But these passions are intertwined. I cannot write about a character without considering his attitude toward the human body. A hero like Conan, who lusts after every scantily clad maiden, is a far cry from Tarzan, who, to paraphrase Edgar Rice Burroughs, “abhors clothing and all it stands for.”

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My naked heroes: Xandr and Thelana

This brings me to Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, which sold 90 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 45 languages. Ninety-million is a big number. There are certainly not that many involved in the S&M lifestyle. A larger demographic was likely curious, because fiction gives us a way to step into the shoes (or in this case leather pants) of another. By and large, book buyers were not dissuaded by the subject of bondage. The same, I feel, should go for nudism. There are few card carrying nudists in the world, but thanks to the Internet, a rapidly growing curiosity. Just as with the strange world of S&M, it only takes the right book and this undercurrent of interest will break the surface. For this reason, I embrace naturism, proudly exposing myself in words and in pixels.

The heyday of nudism is coming. It will start with bloggers and writers and philosophers, and end with politicians. And when all is said and done, “naturism,” like any needless -ism, will cease to exist.

 

Heroes of Naturism

Just as racism and homophobia exist to varying degrees around the world, so does bigotry against nudists. It might seem offensive to equate the two, but in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, where women who refuse to cover their faces can be jailed, beaten and raped, the comparison seems more appropriate. Unlike homosexuality, becoming a nudist is a choice, and yet that choice is a fundamental part of my identity. I see little difference between a person’s faith and a belief in the innocence of the human body. The fear that exists among transgendered people, the pressure to conform, to continually hide from scrutiny, are feelings many nudists can relate to.

Nudity harms no one, neither physically nor psychologically, and yet we can never be as we are born, never live as nature intended. The reason is rooted in outdated taboos, from a time when slavery was sanctioned by God, women were stoned for adultery, scientific discoveries like those of Galileo were condemned, and homosexuals were put to death. Our Puritan roots have deeply entrenched in us a fear and hatred for the human body, but what continues to perpetuate this attitude, despite increasing secularism, is a consumer industry which profits from shame, and making people feel unattractive.

To break the nudity taboo, something that perpetuates sexism, body hatred, and an unhealthy sex obsessed society, we need heroes. Every movement needs heroes when society’s mores are challenged. There was a time when racism was sanctioned by the Supreme Court, until people like Frederick Douglas, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King challenged those laws. Up until recently, homosexuals were frequently beaten and arrested, but then Harvey Milk came along to help change attitudes. It’s easy for us to see these people as heroes. Who, today, would deny Rosa Parks a spot at the front of the bus? And yet, people in the fifties did not have the luxury of hindsight—they could not imagine the freedoms we take for granted. For too long, we have hidden behind the walls of our resorts, far removed from the public eye. In general, there has been no way for people to learn about us, and so we are left with ugly stereotypes and misconceptions. Fortunately, there are intrepid individuals who have found the courage to act upon the conviction that the human body is neither indecent nor shameful.

 

Gypsy Taub

My long time readers may be surprised by my inclusion of Gypsy, but after some deliberation, I’ve decided that the movement can only benefit from diverse voices. Personally, I am opposed to Gypsy calling the police “pigs,” and I really, really disparage her wearing dildos in public. But it may be hypocritical for me to take such a hard line approach, when most people find my desire to go au natural equally offensive. No single person on this list has fought more vehemently for naked freedom than Gypsy. She’s held nude rallies in San Fransisco, and once disrobed in the middle of a court hearing regarding a public nudity ordinance, nearly winning the vote in the process. What is perhaps most remarkable, for me, Gypsy is as comfortable in her skin as my naturist heroine, Thelana, going without a stitch on city streets, and while making speeches to large crowds, and on her web series, MyNakedTruth.tv. She’s so often naked, you almost have to wonder whether she owns a pair of underwear.

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While I may not approve of her methods, Gypsy’s commitment continues to inspire (she is in the green hat on the left). You can watch her most famous video here, where she disrobes during a public court hearing.

Dr. Victoria Bateman

Yes, you read that correctly. Perhaps more than anyone on this list, DOCTOR Bateman is the most accomplished, having earned her PHd from the University of Oxford (the most esteemed school on the planet IMO). According to her Wikipedia page: Victoria N. Bateman is a British feminist economist and academic, specialising in macroeconomics and British economic history. She is a fellow in economics at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Bateman read economics at Cambridge University, before receiving her masters and doctorate degrees from Oxford. More than simply a free body activist, Bateman is an outspoken advocate for women and the rights of sex workers, and a staunch opponent of Brexit, Britain’s decision to separate from the European Union. For anyone who thinks nudists are uneducated, or anti-social lepers, Bateman proves otherwise. In terms of class, she stands polar opposite to someone like Gypsy Taub, but this only goes to show the wide variety of voices that can exist within the nudist community, and that anyone, from any walk of life, can be a nudist. Be sure to watch her anti-Brexit video here.

 

AliaaAliaa Magda Elmahdy 

For a Muslim woman born in Egypt, Aliaa’s courage is particularly inspiring. Nudity in Islam is forbidden in any form, but to expose oneself to the public is more than just a social taboo, it’s a serious crime. By posting a nude selfie on her blog, Aliaa risked imprisonment in a country not known for human rights. This simple act incited outrage throughout the Muslim world, among both liberals and conservatives, and she received threats of rape and murder as a result. But it was all in protest of Sharia Law, a system that treats women more as objects than human beings. To prevent sexual violence, women are expected to dress modestly, but clothing like the burqa, that covers every inch of the body, represents nothing but oppression. What better way to protest the burqa, than its extreme opposite, complete nakedness? As Aliaa herself put it, her photo, “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”

 

MoiraMoira Johnston

Since 1992, women have been legally permitted to go topless in New York City, anywhere in public, wherever men have been traditionally allowed. While feminists cheered, most women continue to be unaware of the law, or if they are, lack the courage to make use of it. One female activist, however, has made it her mission to inform the public via example. This is Moira in the streets. The best part is, people either do not seem to notice her exposed bosom, or simply do not care. It only goes to  prove that common decency isn’t as common as Facebook would have us believe. Watch her video here.

Lady God1va

As her namesake suggests, this stunning beauty* is utterly shameless, and while she does not appear to own a horse, she has taken to cycling in nothing but a helmet (as a cyclist myself—I ride a Trek 7.7 FX, she rides a 7.5—I am a big proponent of safety gear!). OK, to be fair, she doesn’t do this on a daily basis. It’s all part of the World Naked Bide Ride, which she helps to organize every year. On that day, it is not uncommon to see a thousand or more cyclists on the streets of London, missing more than helmets.

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God1va is a British citizen, but she can trace her roots to India, where family tradition is paramount. Coming from a traditional culture myself, I find her confidence all the more inspiring, in that she is not afraid to show the world who she is, at the risk of alienating friends and family. As her blog states, “There was also the fear factor … what if I get recognized by my family/friends? However, having been on TV fully nude at least 4 times a week for about 6 months (repeats!), and having published all my photos on the web, the cat is truly out of the bag and there is no hiding now!” On her blog and in public, Lady God1va continues to express her free body philosophy. In 2009, as part of an art exhibition, she stood completely naked on a plinth before crowds of thousands, holding a placard with the words, “Naturism – It is a human right.” Lady, I couldn’t agree more! Watch the video here. *While I know it’s taboo among naturist circles to judge a person for their looks, I couldn’t help making this remark, as Lady God1va so closely resembles my wife.

 

Luis Andrew Martinez

You know that dream about going to school everyone seems to have? Where you suddenly realize that you’re naked, in front of classmates and teachers? For most people, it’s a nightmare, but for University of Berkeley student, Andrew Martinez, this was his reality. According to Wikipedia: Campus police first arrested him that fall for indecent exposure when he jogged naked late on a Saturday night. The county prosecutor refused to prosecute, concluding that nudity without lewd behavior was not illegal. Martinez began strolling around campus naked, citing philosophical reasons. He explained that when he dressed in expensive, uncomfortable, stylish, “appropriate” attire, he hid the fact that his personal belief was that clothes were useless in his environment except as a tool for class and gender differentiation. The university then banned nudity on campus. Martinez was also arrested in the city for indecency, fought those charges, and won. Later, after an anti-nudity ordinance was adopted, he was given two years probation. Sadly, Andrew Martinez was diagnosed with mental illness, ending his own life in prison in 2006. He was 33. 

 

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Felicity Jones 

Many nudists you meet today, on beaches and at resorts, are over sixty. There is a real scarcity of young people involved in the movement, especially young women. When I attended the University of South Florida, I tried to start a nudist club, but made little headway. In our hyper-sexualized society, where body parts = lust, a woman who shows too much skin is thought to be a stripper, a porn star, or a prostitute. At the very least, a man will ogle a naked woman, especially at a non-nudist venue, unused to seeing a  woman in her natural state who isn’t “asking for it.” At worst, women in the lifestyle risk physical violence. So, simply being young, female, and a naturist takes a lot of courage. Felicity was fortunate enough to have been raised in a nudist household, and as a third generation nudist, body shame was simply something she was never taught. Now she has made it her mission to spread her family’s free body philosophy to the world. As the founder of Young Naturists America, an online organization with thousands of members (including yours truly), she organizes public naturist events, like body painting day in New York, with artist Andy Golub. She is also a prolific blogger, writing on a wide range of subjects, from combating sexism to changing negative body stereotypes.

 

Stephen Gough

Even among nudists, Stephen Gough “the Naked Rambler” is a controversial figure. Gough has been convicted 28 times for 46 offences, mainly in Scotland, where he was repeatedly arrested during attempts to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats without clothes. He has been sentenced to more than six years in prison in total. Many would argue that he does not belong on this list, and Stephen himself has stated that he is not a nudist. But since there is no consensus as to what nudism is, and considerable misunderstanding regarding its practices and beliefs, I cannot rule him out. Of course, simply being naked does not make one a nudist. Strippers are not nudists. Porn stars are not nudists. Exhibitionists, people who show their bodies for the intended purpose of shocking and offending others, are the extreme opposite of nudists, emphasizing rather than de-emphasizing the body. Nudism, in essence, is a non-thing, the simple belief that the body is good, shameless, and legal. Unless Stephen intended to offend, and I have seen no evidence of this, he is a nudist, whether he says so or not. What truly sets him apart, however, is his willingness to get arrested, time and time again. Many have questioned his obstinance and sanity, but perhaps more than anyone on this list, he has shown us the absurdity of anti-nudity laws, by how much time and government money has been wasted imprisoning him, a man who has done nothing to harm anyone.

 

Miley-Cyrus-Nude-Outtakes-For-Candy-Magazine-11-760x1035Miley Cyrus

She has been exposing herself in videos, magazines and on Twitter, leaving nothing to the imagination. But, unlike Playboy models and porn stars, she has made natural nudity a focal point of her career, claiming that she would like to move to a nudist colony someday. Performers have long relied on controversy to keep the media focused on their careers. Who can forget the Beatles’ hairstyle, Madonna’s infamous Sex book, or Janet Jackson’s nipple slip? But while she may be courting controversy for publicity’s sake, her shameless confidence cannot be denied. Real naturist or not, Miley can only have a positive effect on the movement. In the past, such exposure would have been scandalous, a career ender. Instead, Miley proves how tolerant we have become as a society.

 

Jenny Scordamaglia

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South of the border, we find Jenny Scordamaglia, who has never been one to shy away from the camera. Like few others on this list, she has the remarkable quality of appearing so comfortable in her skin, it’s easy to forget she is naked. Jenny started her career in modeling, but while many women with her looks end up in porn, she’s proven that nudity doesn’t always preclude sex, and that there are many innocent things people can do in the buff. Among these are naked yoga, which is becoming more and more popular these days, and on her cooking show, Naked Kitchen, she cooks, well, you can probably guess (though I do recommend an apron!). Despite her propensity for showing us her goods, Jenny is anything but a brainless bimbo, as her bio attests: She has been a journalist for magazines in Brazil and Peru, published her first book, “Llamado de Atencion,” to help young adults live positively, and in 2009, she hosted the biggest Latin American show from Europe, in the American Airlines Arena in Miami. She was chosen “the voice of Miami,” representing South Florida, for Comcast Xfinity, and in 2012, she opened her first meditation center, “Centro Transformacion,” in Spain. Jenny was also the official host of Miami’s “International Film Festival 2012,” which raised money for Tanzania, South Africa. And in 2013, she launched Miami TV, available on Google Play and iTunes. Learn more about Jenny on her page.

 

I consider these people naturist heroes, for doing more than just writing about nudism, for showing us, through their actions, that there is truly no shame in nakedness. Each found the courage to reject the taboos of the past, risking ridicule and social ostracism, to embolden the rest of us. If we are ever to become free, we must follow their example. If you love being nude, tell your friends. If you have a blog, post an honest selfie, the one that represents who you really are. Go nude wherever you can, and as often as you can, until the unclothed body becomes so common a sight, no one will find it objectionable.

 

UPDATE 01/14/2019: Since I originally created this post four years ago, the number of nude advocates has grown exponentially. More and more, people have been finding the courage to express their true naked selves. I myself have received nothing but positive responses for my articles, nude selfies and videos. It’s truly remarkable to be seeing such radical social change! In this update, I’ve included Gypsy Taub, Doctor Victoria Bateman, and Jenny Scordamaglia.

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An honest selfie

 

Final Thoughts:

I want to address a few points regarding this article.

No. 1. If you’ll notice, there are only two men on this list, as opposed to eight women. While I wish I could have included more males, the reasons I haven’t are multifold. Firstly, I think it’s safe to say that male nudity is treated differently in our society. Men have traditionally enjoyed greater body freedom than women, so a guy going topless in NYC isn’t going to have the safe effect as someone like Moira Johnston. Along the same lines, men in Muslim countries are not made to suffer under a burqa. There’s also the difference between men and women’s attitudes toward sex. Men rarely have to deal with threats of rape, or sexual harassment, so whatever courage a male nudist displays pales in comparison to that of a female. Finally, I find men’s interest in public nudity questionable, in that so often, it has more to do with soliciting women, and personal sexual gratification. We’ve all had to deal with dick pics, but how often do men get harassed by unsolicited vag pics?

No. 2. Almost all of the images I’ve chosen, wherever possible, are full-frontal, including my own. I believe it necessary to show the body in its entirety, and to not be coy with what parts we choose to display, because when you really boil it down, it’s not the body per se people find offensive. If we are ever to overcome our aversion to nakedness, we must become accustomed to the sight of penises and vaginas in all their wondrous variety. We must accept that there is no shame in letting others see these parts of ourselves, that they’re not so different from our ears, noses or elbows. And that starts with full-frontal nudity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Naturism Means to Me

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself

Mark Twain

Yes, I am a nudist! Or naturist, as I prefer to call myself. I’ve been beating around the bush regarding this issue, hinted at it here and there, in articles and in my fiction, and to many of my astute readers this may come as no surprise. So here it is, my official “coming out” so to speak, or maybe “my undressing” is a better metaphor. Why else would I have dedicated the past ten years of my life to a fantasy novel with nudist/naturist heroes? I have been a nudist since I was twelve years old, from the time I visited the Cycladic Islands of Greece, where bathing suits were often too formal. I spent every summer on those beaches, and it was not long before I realized life is better without clothes, even while doing algebra.

nudebeaches

Who needs bathing suits on a beach like this?

Back home in the U.S., I explored secluded woods the way nature intended, and whenever the parents were away, the clothes came off stayed off! But most of my friends and family would never guess that I spend most of my time in the buff. For decades, I’ve kept this a secret, fretting over how people would react, because there are too many misconceptions and negative stereotypes regarding nudism. But society is changing. With the numerous scandals involving the Catholic Church, the battle for gay rights within Protestant denominations, and continued terrorist acts associated with Islam, organized religion is losing its moral authority. At the same time, the advent of social media has delivered an explosion of understanding and tolerance. People once afraid to ask about different lifestyles can now find like minded individuals from around the globe. Homosexuality, an issue most people feared to discuss in the 80’s, is rapidly gaining popular support, and I have no doubt that in ten or twenty years, society will accept gay marriage as they have interracial couples. While nudism is not nearly as stigmatized in the public eye as is the LGBT community, I can identify with the need to hide oneself from scrutiny. But I find courage in the new society that is dawning, a society where personal identity will be an inalienable right, where people, including those who prefer not to wear clothes, will be afforded the same respect as those of differing faith and sexual orientation.

First, let me address what naturism is not. It is most definitely not about sex. My mores are as conservative as can be. I believe the best arrangement for lovers is post-marital sex, because there are far too many unwanted pregnancies and single parents in this country. Of course, it’s hard to argue that that is a realistic goal, but I’ve always followed one simple rule: sleep with someone you love. A couple can better raise a child, even if the child came about by accident. So for me, nudism/naturism has nothing to do with sex. You might find this difficult to believe if you’ve been raised, like most people, to equate the human body with intercourse. You might suspect us to be closet perverts. But from a naturist point of view, textiles (non-naturists) are the sex crazed weirdos. Think about it this way, the textile philosophy is this: every man, woman and child must be clothed at all times because, if not, we’ll all want to have sex with one another. A naturist, on the other hand, looks at a body sans apparel and simply sees another human being. We have no fear of accidentally seeing our siblings or friends in the shower or changing booth. Desire for fornication does not overwhelm our judgment. Don’t believe me? In college, I spent two days at a resort, fully naked with a girl from New Jersey. We ate naked; we played pool volleyball naked; we played scrabble naked, and guess what? No sex. We didn’t even kiss. Why? Because I hardly knew her. She was going back home the following day and neither of us wanted a meaningless fling. In short, naturism is innocent!

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Naturism is innocent

On the other hand, naturists are not sexless robots. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception even among naturist communities. Nudists/naturists have been fighting the idea that nudity = sex mainly because sex was, for the past century, taboo outside of marriage. But public mores have moved on. Society no longer demonizes fornication and even the “one-night stand” has lost its stigma. I have the impression that if nudism was about sex, it might actually gain popularity. The truth is, nudists, like everyone else, appreciate the human body for its beauty and yes, its sex appeal. Does this contradict my earlier paragraph? No. Human nature is complex. These days, sex appeal is everywhere, from sports cars to clothing to movies. Needless to say, Avatar would have been far less appealing had the Navi been giant blue blobs. In Avengers, Black Widow would not have been as popular without her ass-hugging tights. Even tutus and bikinis are designed with sex appeal in mind. Does this equate going to the beach with visiting a porn shop? Of course not. Naturists appreciate the human body in the same way a man might enjoy seeing an attractive girl in a bikini, yet, just like at the beach, there is little fear at a naturist resort that an orgy will break out. We’re human beings, after all, not animals.

Thirdly, nudism/naturism has nothing to do with gawking at people. A visit to any resort will almost instantly dismiss this myth, because seeing hundreds of naked people of all shapes and sizes, from toddlers to grandmothers, is anything but arousing. And if gawking is something you crave, there are specific places set aside for that. After my second trip to a strip club, I was disgusted and have never gone again.

Fourthly, naturists are not weird. Sure, we’re in the minority, but we’re not impractical. Every time a TV show tries to make fun of us, they seem to have a hard time keeping the joke going, or they find some crazy person that doesn’t represent the movement at all. Nudists/naturists are just “too normal” for TV. If it’s cold, we put on clothes. If it’s hot, we take them off. If we’re in a public place, like a restaurant or a grocery store, we dress appropriately. Would I prefer to live naked 24/7? Certainly! But we do not live in the Amazon, or in Ilmarinen, and I no more wish to go to Carrabbas naked than anyone in a bathing suit. There is a proper time and place for everything.

Now to address a bit of absurdity: naturists/nudists do not live in colonies. What, exactly, is a nudist colony? We’re not a nation of people. We can’t show up on some distant shore to plant a flag for our people. In reality, nudists/naturists are everywhere. If you don’t immediately dress after taking a shower, you might be a nudist yourself. People also think we like to move in circles. They say we “parade” around in the nude, like we’re putting ourselves on display. We are equated to flashers, to attention grabbers, or strippers. They think we want to shock and offend people with our genitals. But nothing could be further from the truth. Visit any clothing optional beach and you will always find the naked people at the very far end, often in hiding. Typically, we get the worst parts of the coast, with the rocks and the urchins and the seaweed, because we do not want to offend anyone or draw attention to ourselves.

So if it’s not about sex, gawking or showing off, what’s the point? Answering that question is like answering why it’s fun to dance, or to swim, or to bike. You just have to experience it to understand. You’ve probably been a naturist at some point in your life already and forgotten. You weren’t born ashamed of your body. Take a diaper off a toddler and watch how joyfully they run around the living room. Clothing is a learned habit, a product of society, not nature. Conversely, children raised in naturist households are less likely to develop a hatred for their bodies.

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OK, but clothing is certainly a good thing, right? People can’t revert to animals, to go live in the jungle . . . and I agree. I will be the first to admit that “primitivism” is a bad idea. Modern society provides access to food and medicine and shelter that I wouldn’t want to live without. On the other hand, much of what modern society has given us is also harmful, like the sedentary lifestyle brought on by TV and the Internet, or the salty foods and high-fructose corn syrup that is slowly killing us. So we have to choose the good from the bad, and modern society’s obsession with hiding the human body has been and continues to be harmful, to both children and adults.

Naturism, in all reality, is a non-thing. Just like cold is the absence of heat, naturism is the absence of shame. Shame can be a good thing for the right reasons. It should be shameful to lie, cheat, or steal. But simply having a body, and being seen in that body, should never be shameful. Naturism, as a movement, exists as a response to an outdated prejudice.


 

Now I do not speak for all naturists, naturally, and I am well aware that for many in the lifestyle, naturism cannot or should not be equated to any of the things I’ve listed below, but again, this is what naturism means to me. It is a unique way at looking at the world, that touches upon many subjects:

1. Naturism = Self Respect: Nudity is not uncommon in our world. We see it everywhere, from Cosmopolitan magazine to films like Machete to your local strip club. Women (and men) are allowed to show their bodies only if they fit an extremely narrow and unrealistic conception of beauty. The message this sends to young people is clear: if you don’t look a certain way, you must hide your ugliness. This is a harmful message in that it causes girls (and sometimes boys) to become anorexic, bulimic, or to simply hate themselves. If people could only see the wider range of body types that exist in the world, they might not hate their own.

2. Naturism = Equality: We are all human beings, living on the same planet, made up of the same parts. That much is simple. From an African American to an Anglo-Saxon to a Hindu to a Jew, we are all remarkably similar. Without clothes, Bill Gates looks no wealthier than a homeless man, and the President no more important than his janitor. Unfortunately, the labels we create for ourselves divide us, causing us to envy, to hate, and to wage wars. It’s so much easier to kill another human being when he or she is seen as something alien. Uniforms identify the enemy. In nothing but our bodies, we find little difference between us.

3. Naturism = Feminism: Look around the world. Wherever women are forced to hide their bodies, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia, the women have little freedom and are deemed inferior to men. In Spain, France, Sweden and Norway, where women can go topless in public, you are far more likely to find sexual equality. In Finland, one of the most pro-naturist nations on Earth, education is often ranked #1 in the world. Compare that to Afghanistan, where women were unable, until recently, to show even their eyes in public, the literacy rate was as low as 18%. For centuries, it was believed that modest dress existed to protect a woman’s dignity. But for a man to dictate what their wives, girlfriends, sisters or daughters are allowed to wear, if they choose to be clothed at all, robs them of their right to define themselves. A woman walking the streets in skimpy shorts signals she is a prostitute, but another woman on the beach, wearing even less, is considered virtuous. Without body taboos, women can only be judged by their character. Modest clothing has less to do with sexual mores and more to do with power. What are we saying to half the population when the only time they can be legally naked is in the act of entertaining men?

4. Naturism = Environmentalism. The Religious Right and the conservative movement have long fought efforts to save the environment. Why? The reasons are numerous, but one might be found in the Bible, where, in the book of Genesis, God gives man dominion over nature. Basically, the thinking goes, we can destroy nature because we’re above it. But as a naturist, I do not see myself as a separate thing from nature. Human beings are highly evolved, highly intelligent animals, but animals nonetheless. It’s obvious when looking at the naked body how much a part of nature we are. For a naturist, devastating animal habitats is a crime against family.

5. Naturism = Health. Few websites equate the two, but at the turn of the century, nudism/naturism was considered a health movement. It was argued that sunshine and fresh air were good for the body, which is most certainly the case, but of course that part of the movement died quickly when people with more common sense argued, and I paraphrase here, “Does the sun have to shine where the sun don’t shine to get enough vitamin D?” I do believe, however, that naturism is healthy in other ways. It promotes outside activity, like swimming and hiking, which are more enjoyable in the nude, and it forces us to take care of this thing we call a body, which naturists have profound respect for. Part of the stigma that nudists/naturists face today is that the movement is made up of aged, out-of-shape people, and from my experience this seems to be largely the case. If we ever wish to go mainstream, we’ll need to shape up. Of course, this isn’t to say that we need to fit the narrow mold of beauty established by the magazine industry, but we do need to learn to eat healthy and exercise, because ingesting processed foods and sitting on our naked butts all day is far less natural, and far more harmful, than wearing clothes.

6. Naturism = Spirituality. This is a tough one to explain, especially if you’ve never experienced it yourself, but I’ve felt closer to God in my birthday suit than I have ever felt in stuffy Sunday clothes in church. There is just something spiritually uplifting, awe-inspiring even, when you’re naked in an environment untouched by civilization, without any synthetic fibers to remind you of time and place. On a beach in a Greek island, I stood on a rock where the Ancient Greeks stood, where prehistoric man stood millions of years ago; they felt the same sensations on their bare feet, watched the same tides roll in and out, looked dreamily over the same sky. Without clothing to remind me of my daily existence, past and present melded into one, and I could feel the connection between my body and an infinite universe.

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For me there has always been a spiritual dimension to naturism.

7. Naturism = Romanticism. As a writer, I feel that I have a special appreciation for nature and the human body that even many naturists do not share. Writers challenge the status quo, transcending social prejudices and boundaries to get at the truth or essence of life. For me, it is no coincidence that I should love both writing and naturism. The two go hand-in-hand, especially in the literary romantic tradition (not to be confused with romance) which often romanticizes (to put simply, makes larger than life) both nature and the human body. Here are just a few quotes I would love to have written myself:

Walt Whitman American writer, A Sun-bathed Nakedness:

Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me… Nature was naked, and I was also… Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! – ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.

Henry David Thoreau, In wildness is the preservation of the world., Walking:
We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense. It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other. To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, from Tarzan,
Clothes he abhorred – uncomfortable, hideous, confining things that reminded him somehow of bonds securing him to the life he had seen the poor creatures of London and Paris living. Clothes were the emblems of that hypocrisy for which civilization stood – a pretense that the wearers were ashamed of what the clothes covered, of the human form made in the semblance of God.

Many other authors were naturists, including Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, Benjamin Franklin, Franz Kafka, and Robert Heinlein. My dream, ultimately, is to inspire change in the world. But that change can never happen if we are too afraid to show the world who we are and what we believe.

My name is Nick Alimonos, and I am proud to be a naturist!

realme!

To learn more about naturism/nudism, you can visit these websites:

AANR | Nudist | American Association for Nude Recreation

The Naturist Society

“The Bare Pit” by Noodtoonist

Naked Conversations with Nude Women on Vimeo

NudeState