One of the leading concerns among the Naturist Community is the aging naturist/nudist population. By what you hear, it would appear that spending time nude is becoming the pastime of an increasingly aged crowd. But…..is it?
I would agree that nudist clubs and organizations mark the average age of their clientele as well beyond “young adult” or “middle aged”. And from what you read, that trend is only accelerating. But as with any statistic, it depends on how you interpret the data. Now, this is far from an academic journal and I can’t offer reams of data to back up my conclusions. This is simply one persons opinion, based on a fair amount of reading and years of interest in Naturism.
The growth of clubs in the early years of American naturism is well documented. To enjoy the naturist/nudist lifestyle, naturists had to do so in isolated areas, behind walls and fences, essentially in secret. That was partially driven by the law and partially by a desire for privacy. Nudity was far from accepted and enjoying it as a hobby or lifestyle was a foreign concept to most.Today, I can’t say things have changed all that much, at least not in the US. But…it depends. While formal nudist venues are still relatively few in number, I believe the actual acceptance of nudity has increased….significantly. As I discussed in the post Seizing Opportunities , I see younger generations as not feeling tied to clubs and organizations to enjoy naturism. Instead, they enjoy being nude when and where it strikes them — at home, in their backyard, on a hike, on a boat, on vacation, etc… They are in tune to nude opportunities and when they present themselves, they are more inclined to take them. True, this isn’t a new aspect of younger generations. Look at the 60s and 70s, Woodstock and the like. But I’m not talking about nudism as part of a counter culture movement. I’m talking about educated professionals, parents, people of faith, whoever….choosing the path so many naturists have taken before them….to be nude. They simply don’t feel the need to join an organization or go to a club to do so.
I don’t mean to single this trend out to only younger generations. A couple in their 40s or 50s who choose to give naturism a go, don’t feel obliged to seek out clubs or organizations. However, for many newcomers, such venues are much easier, once you get past your trepidation. Personally, I’m a fan of both. I love being nude out in the open, on a hiking trail or by a lake. But likewise, it’s nice to be able to go to a resort or club and enjoy nudity completely carefree, without concern. I’m of the opinion that both worlds can easily coexist.
Consequently, is the aging naturist population really a sign of declining interest in naturism, or an shift in where and how people enjoy being nude? I tend to think it’s more of the latter. There are dozens of examples of youth and young adults embracing naturism — nude restaurants, topless movements, naked parties, naked runs, naked TV shows, naked bike rides, body painting, etc. You have to wonder, are these simply over reported? Are they just marketing and advertising campaigns? Or are they representative of a normalizing, among a segment of the population, of nudity.
It’s probably a mix of all those observations and more. But among many segments of the American population I definitely see a lessening of negative attitudes toward nudity. My favorite example of that is the TV show, Naked and Afraid. When I was growing up, seeing any nudity on mainstream television, short of an occasional glimpse on imported PBS shows, was unheard of. But today, nudity is much more common with multiple shows having nudity as a central ingredient. While they do “fuzz” out everything but their butts (something that drives me crazy), nudity is still a key part of the show.
The reason I single out Naked and Afraid over other “naked TV shows” is how nudity is treated — as a non event. It’s a survival show, where they happen to be naked. My favorite part of the show is when the two people meet, naked, for the first time. It’s awkward for about 5 minutes. They quickly get over it, get to know each other as people, and get to the task at hand — surviving. They don’t continue to obsess with the other persons naked body. That message is a good one — people can be nude together and quickly and easily get past the nudity. “So maybe nude isn’t always about sex??”
So, I don’t see the naturist world as on its deathbed. Yes, it’s definitely in a period of transition. Will the more secluded rustic clubs survive? Some will. Some won’t. How about the organizations like AANR and TNS? Maybe. It’s hard to say. And yes, there are examples of locations where nudity was once allowed or tolerated, now being restricted or completely prohibited. But there are also places where it has grown. When you take a step back and look at where society has come, nudity is increasingly embraced. One last example — swimming suit trends. Look at beach ware in the Victorian era and look at today. Quite a shift.
While preparing this post I came across an article dealing with many of the same themes but in France. Definitely worth a read.
What are your thoughts?