Relax in Freedom where Natural is Nude
A quiet phenomenon is emerging:
Millions worldwide are shedding their clothes to unwind.
Following generations of Victorian discomfort about the unclad human form, the attitudes of Western cultures have changed quietly but dramatically in the past 25 years. Once enjoyed only by daring innovators in secluded circumstances, mixed social nudity has now been experienced by over 30 million Americans, according to several surveys.
Private clubs and popular beaches in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia also attract large numbers of nude participants, and across the Atlantic a BBC television documentary on the subject estimated that 50 million Europeans are recreational naturists.
Clothes-optional alternatives are growing in variety and popularity.
Americans have been introduced to diversified naturist lifestyles at popular nude beaches, private clubs and resorts, in backyard pools and hot tubs, at natural hot springs, informal spas and personal growth centers, on ocean cruises and wilderness hikes, and even at clothing-optional condominium and apartment complexes.
Europeans, who have tended to disrobe on a somewhat grander scale, have developed impressive nude resort areas around their sunniest coastlines. The largest in southern France, contains banks, hotels, shops, restaurants and seasonal tourist facilities serving up to 40 thousand vacationing naturists of all ages and nationalities.
Naturists choose clothes-free leisure as a life-enhancing experience.
Drawn from widely diverse backgrounds and all generations, they elude traditional stereotyping. They are part of a a growing number of people who trust their own intuition and experience when evaluating lifestyle choices. They seek to enrich the quality of their lives and those they care about. Being self-confident enough themselves to explore new ideas and learn from life's feedback, they tend to appreciate the unique qualities of all people. Most would respect both sexes as human equals of wonderfully different design.
Although they may not label themselves as "naturists," they have all learned that being nude in comfortable situations feels good enough to make it a regular leisure option. Having come to accept their own and other's bodies as entirely natural, they have shed irrational taboos along with their clothes.
In opening themselves to a more complete realization of individual freedom, they especially enjoy the uniquely refreshing sensation of total immersion in sun, air and water. Many adopt the lifestyle because they find it to be a care-draining method of relaxation that is far superior to artificial tranquilizers.
For others social values are paramount. In removing the physical impediment of clothes, naturists lower an important symbolic barrier to interpersonal communications. Their meet people just being themselves and make connections to a world-wide network of similarly enlightened freedom-lovers.
Pushing past fears and conditioning uncovers a profoundly liberating understanding.
Whether worn for purposes of warmth, protection, style, uniformity, status, modesty or disguise, clothes make a certain statement of personal identity. It is understandably difficult for some people to conceive of removing such an important "cover" in the company of others. Traditional cultural values, warped by puritanism and pornography, have not provided a very balanced view of human body images, much less the widespread opportunity to experience nudity in a relaxed social context.
If they've not seen many nude bodies, people often imagine that their own physique can't measure up to a fantasy standard, or perhaps they feel singularly disfigured by the scars of living. Several transforming insights are possible from an initial experience in an unclothed gathering.
People discover in the realm of naked reality that every body, being unique, has "flaws" and see that humans come in amazing varieties of shapes, sizes and hues. They might also observe how bodies vary less with age than care and realize that for the moment each is ideal for the being it contains.
Many are inspired by a heightened body awareness to pursue a better balance of exercise and nutrition. Each individual finds confirmation of being an acceptable, whole person with nothing added ... a full-fledged member of the human race as it existed before animal skins, fig leaves, and the origin of shame.
Naturists see whole people instead of fragmented fantasy objects.
A naturist perception offers a positive alternative to pop-culture's impossible double-bind regarding the body's "forbidden" parts. Breasts, buttocks and genitals have been de-humanized and isolated as marketable sexual objects through the contradictory messages of compulsive covering and titillating exposure. Citizens can still be arrested for revealing what others exploit legally for profit.
Such impersonal eroticism has contributed to a particular risk in being female and engendered negative feelings in both sexes about the body's natural pleasure centers. Very few have been taught to actually like the complete body they were born with and are living in.
Naturists have learned that once patches of cloth no longer focus attention on that which is hidden, all parts of the body blend together forming the perception of a whole person. Tabooed symbols lose their charge, and each integral body is accepted for what it is ... a miraculous gift of life.
Nudity is a great human equalizer. Natural characteristics are readily accepted, and most status factors aren't apparent or important. Posturing or gamesmanship seems too ridiculous to attempt, and being naked discourages aggressive behavior. It is far easier to relax and just be one's self.
Simple social ethics create a comfortable naturist environment.
Because being nude with people means accepting a leveling sense of mutual vulnerability, it also creates feelings of trust and openness not usually experienced from behind cultural, gender or role costumes. The social ambience within a naturist group is far more likely to feel tranquil than erotic, as men, who erroneously fear embarrassing arousal, universally discover during their first disrobing.
Conduct is usually governed by ordinary social courtesies, including a fundamental agreement to limit sexuality to consenting adults in private. Uncomfortable behavior is rarely encountered, and being sanctuaries from stress, all reputable naturist establishments would treat sexist harassment with immediate expulsion of the offender.
If the situation and the relationship comfortably permit it, naturists do express their loving feelings in tactile fashion. Most find it easy to exchange a caring hug or a relaxing massage without erotic intention or conclusion.
The activities and interactions of naturists at play or at rest are really not different from people in comparable clothed situations. Moreover, they readily dress whenever common sense or personal comfort suggest doing so.
Naturists find values in distinguishing nudity and sexuality.
Removing the tension of sexual expectations from a group of nude people creates a uniquely free and enlightening social situation. In the absence of anatomical curiosity or sexual concern people just naturally seem to become more open, relaxed and playful. Many rediscover joys unfelt since childhood.
Despite differences of age, gender, race and background that would probably separate them in ordinary circumstances, naturists find it easy to accept themselves and relate to others as special individuals within a greater human family. This family feeling creates a safe context for honest communications and close friendships not possible in a sexually charged environment.
When the time, place and partner are appropriate, however, naturists are certainly not anti-sexual, and the benefits of a freer perspective indirectly influence the private domain of physical intimacy. Greater body acceptance can only improve sexual self-image and sensitivity.
After sharing the soothing experience of bathing in the natural elements, many couples return home with a heightened consciousness of their bodies. This awakening of the senses often opens new dimensions of pleasure to explore within their relationship.
Children of naturist parents learn to appreciate their bodies without shame.
An infant's resistance to diapering suggests that humans are born naturists. To curb this instinct children are taught that particular parts of their bodies are socially unacceptable, and the messages, received at impressionable ages, create enduring cultural scars.
Sadly, the unconcealed human form, so magnificently created or evolved, is still regarded in various quarters as obscene, illegal, immoral or otherwise shameful. No other species teaches their young such self-destructive notions as rejecting the physical basis of their fragile survival on the planet.
Young people in a naturist environment learn a non-judgmental perspective which respects and appreciates their integral being. They can observe within natural circumstances the incredible variety of human beings, including those in puberty as well as old age, and anticipate their own growth with less anxiety. They learn to see people, not just bodies.
They enjoy their bodies as total sensors of their surroundings and experience an exhilarting sense of freedom in wholesome play with peers. They also interact with relaxed, unpretentious elders who tend to treat others, including the youngest, with courtesy and easy acceptance. Often they can teach the adults that it's never too late for a happy childhood.
Advice for nervous first-timers: Take a deep breath and plunge right in.
A few people, when presented with a naturist opportunity, are eager to try the experience. Many more are intrigued by the notion, but are anxious about the initial prospect, especially in the midst of strangers.
While first-time anxiety is normal, self-consciousness invariably passes a few minutes after undressing. A few hide modestly behind a towel until they realize that being nude with people is not such a big deal. Most people find that getting undressed quickly is far preferable to the lingering discomfort of remaining conspicuously covered until courage emerges.
Location and company are keys to enjoying the first group experience au naturel. Many prefer the ambience of beaches or hot springs. Others appreciate the recreation facilities, conveniences and safety of a naturist resort where they know that participants are screened by a common ethic. Sharing the feeling with family and friends is special wherever it's done.
At many naturist clubs, clothing is optional except in pools, spas, saunas and other places where dress seems completely irrational. Naturists usually prefer to be nude whenever the weather and the situation make it possible, so club policies generally assume that visitors come prepared to participate rather than sight-see. Some have an orientation process to make initial visits more comfortable for everyone.
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