Our friends over at Naked Wanderings posted another great article entitled Nudism 2.0, part of an informal series they have penned addressing the future of nudism. They are good, thought provoking posts, as most all of us bloggers are shooting for. I encourage you to go over and give them a read if you haven’t already. (Naked Wanderings) And oh yeah…if you have something to add, make a comment. We bloggers love comments, especially when they add something to the conversation. Anyway….back to our regularly scheduled program.
I’ve addressed the topic of where naturism is headed in a general sense a couple of times throughout Naturist Thoughts. But as a general summation and in agreement with Naked Wanderings, I definitely believe the future of nudism and naturism is changing. The key word is changing, not dying.
In order for something to endure, it has to have a certain degree of flexibility. Call it evolution, growth, keeping up with the times, morphing…whatever. The point is that it can’t remain static and rigid. Things that do, tend to fall out of touch, are increasingly viewed as “old school”, wither on the vine, and fall out of favor, particularly with younger generations.
Consequently, the fact that naturism is changing and adapting, is a positive. It keeps naturism vibrant. However, many of the changes observers focus on, particularly in the United States, don’t seem very positive on the surface — aging naturist population, closed naturist clubs, declining formal naturist organization memberships, decreased ability to enjoy public lands nude, and lack of growth of nude beaches. To some, these serve as indicators of the decline of naturism, perhaps even its eventual demise.
However, focusing on lagging indicators such as these can be misleading and discouraging. Among leading indicators, I find a great deal of optimism for naturism. One of the primary reasons for my optimistic attitude is an increased acceptance of nudity among younger generations. Now, as soon as some people read that, they will come up with 20 data points they believe prove just the opposite, that nudity is less accepted, even demonized today. Ok, got it. On occasion it undoubtedly has been. But among younger generations today, I see a much more casual, laissez faire, “it’s not a big deal” approach to simple nudity. Not everywhere, not everyone. But compared to say, 30 years ago, it’s definitely more accepted. These younger generations seem to have a greater awareness and acceptance of the benefits of naturism. In other words, they seem to get it — being nude can be harmless, fun, and an overall good thing for a persons mental and physical well being, and our culture as a whole.
Look at television — Naked and Afraid, Naked Dating…. Where were those 30 years ago? Even among mainstream shows, the sight of a nude buttocks was unheard of. Now, it’s acceptable. How about movies — what would have garnered a R rating in my youth, any nudity no matter how brief, now may only earn PG-13. The taboo of male frontal nudity and the X rating it would have earned, is slowly, very slowly, becoming more acceptable. Furthermore, celebrity nudity is more prevalent, like it or hate it. Yes, not all depictions of nudity in the media, in fact most depictions, are far from positive and have second and third order effects, namely the continued sexualization or simple nudity. But the point is that nudity isn’t the “third rail” it used to be.
So, how do I see the naturist future? In some areas, some cultures, and among some populations (my caveat of “it depends”), I see a growing “live and let live” approach where simple, casual, non-sexual nudity may become more acceptable and common — Increased clothing optional beaches, more laissez faire approach to nudity on public lands, continued easing of what is viewed as obscene and inappropriate on television and movies (I’m still hoping for a non-pixilated version of Naked and Afraid). Can I point to data showing that to be the case? No, I can’t. Undotunately, there is more data that states the opposite. But the data for the years to come has yet to be written. This is just my gut feeling.
Additionally, I see younger generations taking naturism into a more active, athletic, outdoors, social activity. This doesn’t mean naturists will turn away from lazing by a pool or on a beach. That will always be popular. And it doesn’t mean younger generations will unblushing and abandon their electronic gadgets and games. But things like nude hiking, boating, running, cruising, parties, BBQs with friends, volleyball, biking, will be viewed less as a strange fringe activity. Nude resorts, or mainstream resorts with nude options will grow and become more common. The idea of a nakation will grow, as will simply including nude activities or options on otherwise non-naturist vacations. It will be less about simply being nude and more about doing something while nude.
Budding naturists today have the power of the Internet at their disposal. They can read and learn. They can ask questions. They can find out where to go to experience naturism. They can get “first time” advice. That empowering of new naturists should be seen as a gift to the naturist community, to help it grow.
Without taking Naturist Thoughts into the political realm, I do have concerns over the recent direction of the United States culture. The decreased role of listening, accepting, and understanding other views certainly doesn’t lend itself to naturism gaining tolerance or acceptance among critics. The angry rhetoric and unwillingness to even listen to, let alone, accept ideas other than your own is very worrying. But, I have faith than freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will prevail. Accordingly, the naturist evolution will continue.
So, will more naturist clubs close? Will Naturist Organization membership decrease? Will the naturist population continue to age? Unfortunately, yes, perhaps, to all three. But likewise, will younger generations continue to become more non-chalant toward nudity? Will outdoor nude activities grow in number, frequency, and attendance? Will non-sexual nudity continue to find its place in mainstream media such as Television and the Movies? Yes, once again, to all three. So, I don’t see naturism as dying. Naturism is simply evolving and changing. The question is, can we have any impact on where it’s headed?
Our job is to help put a face on naturism. To help non-naturists understand that nudity is a positive, not a threat. We can help enable future naturists through our writings, through our word, and through our actions. We can support naturist organizations who advocate for our views. We can help new generations understand the role such organizations play and how their existence and support helps naturism as a whole. We need to not fear the evolution of naturism. We need to understand it, help shape and guide it where necessary, but ultimately support it if naturism is going to survive.