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What’s in a Name? In this case, traditions do the defining, but body acceptance is at the core of this 100-year old, non-denominational, non-sexist, equal rights social movement. Now in over 108 countries.
Through traditional and empirical observations, a nudist likes more to lay in the sun, or play volleyball or go swimming, at a nudist resort or on a private property. A naturist in somewhat contradistinction, may do the same, but “Naturism is a way of life, in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intentioon of encouraging respect for oneself, for others, and for the environment” (Federation of Canadian Naturists [FCN.org] [INF.org])
Further, “As stated in this definition from the International Naturist Federation, naturism is the practice of complete nudity in a social setting. Though nudity is the most obvious aspect of naturism, it is part of a much wider context.
The purpose of naturism is to promote wholesomeness and stability of the human body, mind and spirit. These come easily to those who shed the psychlogical and social encumbrance of clothing, to see and respect the human body as created.
Naturism also promotes optimal health through complete contact of the body with the natural elements. It is practised as much as possible in an environment free of pollution and stress of modern society. It is therefore associated with an enlightened, holistic approach to nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and social interaction.
Naturism is founded on family participation. Children in naturist families learn to appreciate the body as part of their natural environment. They grow up with healthful attitudes and accept the physical nature of both sexes and all ages withour fear or shame.
Nude living thus removes barriers to communication between people and fosters appreciation of the environment. It leads to healthier and more humane living, richer and simpler, enlightened by joy and freedom.” (FCN.org pamphlet)
Both nudists and naturists enjoy fewer divorces, fewer psychological difficulties, less body shame, a better self concept, a greater tolerance for diversity, and non-exploitation of the human body for profit or power.
See for example, Therapy, Nudity and Joy, by Aileen Goodson, PhD. Elysium Press.
https://i2.wp.com/zjuzdme.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Selection_614.jpg Nudism. Naturism. Is there a difference? I know that in most of the US of A the words are used interchangeably. Nudists or naturists? I also know that in Europe, for instance, the two words are used differently. Naturism appeared after nudism. I’ve been thinking about those two words recently. Thoughts on the difference. […]
Naturism is not:
- just sunbathing
- just visiting nudist clubs
- just going nude in or around the house
- just eating, washing and entertaining guests in the nude
- just camping, hiking, or canoeing in the nude
- just writing and talking about it.
Naturism is all of these things and more. It not only represents a value system shared by over 20 million people worldwide, it also represents a lifestyle, a way of life.
In more conservative Western societies such as Canada, England and the United States, naturism presents hurdles for those who embrace its gymnos philosophy – hurdles of public and private roles, image definition, balancing textile (clothed) and naturist behaviours, and of habitation arrangements regarding location, privacy and access.
As with other things people hold true or worthwhile, naturism is called upon to be defended or justified. Due to its basic value of body shamelessness, it is defended more frequently than believing in abortion, nuclear defense, or gay/lesbian rights. This is in part because strangers and even friends have never asked themselves: Are clothes necessary? Why? or, why must the moral majority prevail over this particularly primordial life ethos? What virtues has ‘civilised’ modern society gained over our ancient nude cultures to make our birth nakedness (as nature intended) now immoral, disgusting, lewd and to be hidden from view? What happened to those tens of thousands of years of body acceptance?
For some advocates today, naturism represents a kind of ‘social movement’, akin to Green Peace, Amnesty International, Pro-Choice, and so forth. It has several characteristics that help define it this way: 1. a defined philosophy, 2. a central political core (INF, FCN, INA), 3. active (several no deceased) protagonists (Erickson, Weinberg, Vais, Baxandall, Cunningham, Hill, Erlickmyer, Williams, Scheller), and 4. internal communication devices (INF Newsletter, Going Natural, ASA Bulletin, Australian H & E, Naturist Society N & N). It lacks however, several more defining aspects of a true movement: a) a shared and clearly defined set of strategies; b) effective charismatic and/or consistent leadership; c) a wide supportive economic base; d) unified human resources.
A ‘collective conscience’ across the world has never been achieved among naturists because:
- in several European countries (France, Denmark, Germany, Holland Bulgaria) it has not been necessary to coalesce because most practical naturist recreational needs have been met through protective by-laws or local ordinances;
- the sub-groups (ASA,BNS, INF, FCN, ANF, etc.) are fractured among themselves over issues of leadership, goals, and priorities;
- relatively few precedents in law have been won in most non-European countries (except Canada), through collective or cooperative efforts;
- there are great economic and inter-member organizational difficulties (travel costs, postage, exchange rates);
- many member groups and federations of naturists are too busy fighting issues at home to lend time and resources for INF (global body) objectives.
In these ways, naturism differs from religions, cults, clubs and international organizations.
Nonetheless, most naturists, politically active or not, perceive naturism as a lifestyle, not mere recreation or short-term sunbathing. They live nude as much as fences, by-laws, and neighbours will allow. This conscious choice sometimes forces naturists into the social role of ‘marginals, living in two worlds. Textile cultures enforce dress codes in most public places, whereas naturist (and nudist) resorts or communities enforce the opposite norm requiring nudity most of the time (weather and first-timers excluded). Naturists see nudity as a rational or logical lifestyle for beaches, cities, towns, or countryside, because body taboos, shame, modesty and over-sexualizing the body are psychologically damaging. Naturists stridently distinguish sexuality from sensuality in their groups, and social norms are created to control for harassment of any kind. Latent norms are so strong for example, that male erections are extremely rare, and if they do occur, a man is encouraged to sit down or cover himself until it subsides. They are not shamed, but helped to understand there is a time and place (naturists do not cease to sexual beings!). Research has shown children brought up in a naturist family or community, become much better adjusted psychologically than their textile counterparts. They would never pay money to go to a strip-bar, or to engage in viewing pornography.
Optimally, naturists can find enough at-home privacy that their lifestyle is minimally interfered with. Even the smallest of properties with properly erected fences, can protect their privacy rights. Suburbia presents the ‘toughest’ challenges however, to naturist living because of the proximity to the public. Solutions sometimes take the form of:
- telling your neighbours before you move in;
- joining a nearby club or group and curtailing your back-yard practices;
- moving to country property where you are completely out of view, and can install a lockable gate; (note: If you are private, but someone goes out of their way to see you, you are protected by law; also, in remote areas or parks the law protects you [Canada])
- move to nude communities that have apartments, condos, modular homes, for sale or rent, e.g., Cypress Cove, Cap d’Agde, and dozens more around the world.
In her famous book, Therapy, Nudity & Joy, Elysium Growth Press, 1991, Forward by Ashley Montagu, Dr. Aileen Goodson describes the therapeutic use of nudity through the ages from ancient ritual to modern psychology. The inner fly-leaf states:
“Therapy, Nudity & Joy is a brightly-written exploration of body-shame —– how it develops during infancy and childhood and later manifests in potentially debilitating problems such as guilt, loss of self-esteem, intimacy disorders and general stress symptoms. Author Aileen Goodson brings a fresh perspective to what she refers to as ‘an hysteria in our culture toward the natural unclothed body and its functions.”
Finally, a text endorsement is included as follows:
“This fascinating book is a ‘must read’ for parents who want their children to develop healthy attitudes and behaviors about their bodies and their sexuality. The ability to understand nudity and sexuality as separate, but sometimes compatible phenomena, will protect against sexual exploitation, guilt, and low self-esteem.”
- Loretta Haroian, PhD. Department Chair and Professor of Child and Adolescent Sexuality, The Institute for Advanced Study of Human sexuality, San Francisco, California
Naturism accepts wholeheartedly overweight or ultra-thin bodies, scarred bodies, young and old bodies, short and tall bodies, people with poor self-concept/body image problems, and black/white/all shades bodies. Naturists are poor, middle-class, wealthy, highly or not-so-highly educated, male/female/LGBT, physicians, supreme court judges, waitresses, pilots, truckers, hockey players, salespersons, Christians, yes…Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists/Humanists, and Hindu (I’ve met all of the above people described at resorts in Canada, US, England and France).
There are always risks associated with adopting a different lifestyle, naturism being no exception. The human body continues to be a formidable frontier for people bent on associating only carnal interpretations to social nudity. Women have gained the legal right in Ontario, and more recently in Montreal (February, 2016), to join men in being topless in public places. Equality rights and increased body acceptance are occurring, but disgust, patriarchy, shame, guilt, and exploitation are still associated with being totally or even partially nude. We have a long way to go. The media can be our best friends or our worst enemies in this quest.
“Naked is the best disguise” – Sherlock Holmes
“Oh, I’m my own Grandpa’…Yes I’m my own Grandpa’…”
Or so the song goes.
Some days I feel that way. When my Dad was 71 I used to think “Holy crap! He’s 71. He’s old!’ I would have been about 42. Even though he could still build steps down to the lake at the cottage. And shoot a partridge dead on at any distance with one shot. And fix his manifold pipe on his station-wagon. And catch the biggest muskie. My Mom at 71 could still go bowling, and make fantastic dinners, and oil paint, and play the accordion.
Dad always said “time speeds up the older you get”, and boy, was he right about that. It just feels like yesterday I had two horses, 2 goats, 9 steers, 100 chickens, and 32 racing pigeons while living on my old farm on the 2nd Concession. That was 38 years ago. But I can hear them, and smell them, and picture how I had to wash the horses down after we had a long ride, and free the goats horns from the page-wire fence ’cause she thought the grass was greener on the other side. And I remember the sauna parties we had on Saturday night, when 3-4 naked couples would polish off a case of beer and fry ourselves in the interest of cleanliness at +85C. Then jump in the snow at -20C. And in the Spring have to fish frogs out of the well. And plant our 40′ x 60” garden with enough veggies to get us through winter. And go to Community Center dances and dance to Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, and Bobby Curtola, with other men’s wives who by 11 pm had no idea who you were. Occasionally, I didn’t either, but those were the days when tomorrow was a sure thing.
But today, 6 years after having had prostate cancer (I’m still clear), and suffering the loss of two children 30-40 years ago to an inherited terminal disease, and not teaching university any more due to poverty salaries for part-time instructors, and losing a college director position because the college owners of 124 colleges in Canada and California went bankrupt, and losing three of my best buddies to disease in this past year; yet, enjoying my second marriage, my two grow daughters, and living in a large house I designed, on 100 private acres, with good friends as tenants, and a trout stream 100 feet away, and now doing consulting and publishing work – life has been good for the past 12 years. But time is accelerating.
Everyone has a story to tell. The psychology of self-change from external ‘beyond-your-control’ events, and of internal struggles along the way, is different yet similar with most people I have met. Adaptations of mood, of new talents and interests, of new relationships and responsibilities, of physical changes, of health and job and finance changes …..all figure prominently in the trajectory to older age we all experience. One’s life view, one’s values, interests, and community of friends, tend to solidify into a more manageable, smaller world, as we age. Things become more predictable yet often more significant when things go wrong, especially our health.
The people with whom we would trust our lives and deepest secrets we can now count on one hand. The obituaries become read more often, and eating ‘experimental food dishes’ becomes less interesting. At “retirement”, especially, one’s perspectives on mortality, sexuality, appearances, hobbies, routines, parenting/grand-parenting, and recreation, take on a whole new meaning. This “life review” process of reminiscing can be gratifying or can lead to despair, anxiety and depression depending on the amount and degree of regret experienced. But the life review process is neither universal nor specific to older age. because any number of events can trigger a review, e.g., loss of a loved one, personal bankruptcy, loss of a job, divorce, or major health concerns. Levinson’s (1978) “seasons of life” theory seems to more accurately reflect the ‘stage theory’ of life than those of Erikson, Piaget, Freud or Jung. Levinson suggests that we all go through four psycho-social ‘eras’: 1. childhood to the end of adolescence (age 0-22); 2. early adulthood (ages 17-45); 3. middle age (40-65); and 4. late adulthood (60 and over). Adjusting to and balancing changing personal circumstances and a changing social world, predicts how successful one’s development becomes.
So changes in cognition (intelligence, learning, memory) occur along the path of life. And physical changes may limit or enhance life experiences. My uncle and aunt lived to be 96 and 94 respectively, and were intellectually sharp and reasonably mobile before they died. My wife’s mother is 89 and still drives to the grocery store. And my friend’s mother is 100, lives alone, and can still win most of the time in a card game. Conversely, I have lost friends and relatives in their 50s, 60s, and 70s to health problems.
As well as being a lifelong process, ‘aging’ as stages is socially constructed rather than inevitable. Each of us is a product of time, pace and circumstance, and yet only broad generalizations can be made about what constitutes aging. One of my university students was 90 when she took my 2nd-year sociology of education course. Having sex at 80 is not uncommon. Climbing a tall tree at 75 has been done, I’m sure. And running a marathon at 77, sky-diving in the Andes at 76, and writing a famous book at 82 – have all been done.
We have to avoid the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ syndrome of assuming that because we have reached a certain age, we must act a certain way in spite of our psycho-social and physical integrity. Life can be too short, and can speed up too fast. There are many things to put in one’s “bucket list”. Tomorrow is a new day.
Source (2): Levinson, D. (1978). The Seasons of a Man’s Life. (1996). The Seasons of a Woman’s Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Apparently I have it, as diagnosed twice by an optometrist here in Thunder Bay. So I’m soon going next to an opthamologist to get the final word. Have to wear sunglasses and take vitamins with Lutein in them. But that may change after I see the specialist.
My aunt had it at 73, and was clinically blind by 81.
So here’s hoping all goes well.