As naturists, there are certain false assumptions we hear over and over again, and myths that are perpetuated by the media. Here we debunk 10 popular myths about naturism and naturists.
Myth #1. Naturists / nudists are naked all the time.
Most of us can’t be naked all the time. Even if we live in a nudist club, it’s still necessary to venture outside, and that usually requires pants. How often one can be naked depends on climate, location, what nudist spots are nearby, etc.
Also, many nudists don’t want or don’t have a need to be naked all the time. Some people get home and immediately undress out of constricting uncomfortable work clothes. Others switch into pajamas or take off only their top or bottom. Of course, there are also those who can’t be home nudists because of whom they live with. Many are happy to just partake in nudie time outdoors when it’s hot out.
Myth #2. Naturists and nudists want to be naked everywhere.
I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in being naked on a New York City subway train. Naked is fun, but not everywhere. Most nudists are happy to have their own section of a beach. But it would be nice if it weren’t a serious crime to be seen naked, without any lewd behavior involved. We find it obscene and oppressive that it’s illegal to simply show body parts that most people have and that most people have seen.
Myth #3. Nudists are “this” and naturists are “that.” As in, there are set definitions of “nudist” and “naturist” within the community.
I asked nine leaders in the nudist community what it means to be a nudist, and I got nine different answers. I’ve also written up my own definitions before. But it just goes to show, there are no set definitions in the community at large. Most people can agree that as a basic definition, “nudist” and “naturist” refer to people who enjoy being nude in a non-sexual setting. I often use these terms interchangeably.
Myth #4. Nudists live in colonies.
There are no nudist colonies. Nudists don’t colonize. Nobody in the nudist world says “colony.” This is a term that the media keeps using, and it just won’t die. The proper terms are nudist resorts or clubs.
Myth #5. “Nudism is sexual” and “nudism is not sexual.”
Nudism is not about sex, but it can also be a bit disingenuous to say it’s “not sexual.” Given the strong association between nudity and sex in our culture, many nudists are quick to insist that nudism is not sexual, but almost to the point of rendering themselves asexual. Most humans are sexual beings. It’s not as if we enter a nudist setting, and our sexuality disappears (nor is it suddenly an uncontrollable force).
Nudists have sex, still experience sexual attraction and express affection in public, whether naked or not. The point is, nudist settings are no more sexual than public textile settings. Most people on nude beaches behave the same way they would on a textile beach. They socialize, swim, laugh, play in the sand, sunbathe nude. People can control their behavior whether naked or clothed. There’s a time and place for everything.
Myth # 6. Nudist couples’ sex lives must be diminished because they see each other naked all the time OR nudists have more sex because they see each other naked all the time.
Sexuality is in the mind, and your sexiest body part is actually…your brain. There are many things that trigger arousal and people don’t need nudity to get turned on. If the first part of this myth were true, we’d all be doomed to sexless marriages and relationships. But there are couples who have been married for 40+ years and still have healthy sex lives.
As for the second part, we’d say nudists probably have better sex because they tend to be more comfortable with their bodies. But do they have more sex than the average person? We’d have to do a study to find out.
As explained in myth #5, nudists don’t become super aroused and jump each other the minute their clothes come off. They have sex in private settings just like everyone else.
Myth #7. The nudist / naturist population is primarily made up of old, retired people.
Nudists can be found all over the world and range in age from newborns to centennials. Some nudist clubs or clothing-optional locations are filled with young naturists in their 20’s and 30’s.
Other clubs have predominantly older, retired empty-nesters.
Many would say the latter describes most clubs in the U.S., and we might agree with that. But the nudist demographic all depends on where you go. In the U.S., nude beaches and clothing-optional hot springs tend to have a lot more young people. In European countries such as France, there are large resorts and beaches that are very popular among young people. As a fact, there is no lack of young people in the nudie world.
Myth #8. Nudism is dying.
There have been quite a few articles in the last few years that report on how old nudists are trying to get more young people involved to keep nudism alive. But nudism is not some outdated, obscure lifestyle that’s about to vanish as all the elderly nudists head to their graves.
Certain nudist clubs and organizations may be losing members, but naturism is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. And that’s not about to change. Many young people are into naturism, but for many reasons, many of them aren’t joining clubs, resorts or organizations.
When clubs and resorts close down, I believe it’s because they failed at business and marketing. They likely failed to attract any new members for some time, let alone young ones. As for organizations, a diminishing membership means that some things aren’t working, and changes are needed. But none of this means that naturism itself is dying.
Myth #9. The people on the nude beach are always the people you “don’t want to see naked.”
No, man. You’re just being confronted with the reality of what bodies actually look like. What were you expecting, the scene of a Playboy photo shoot? This is real life. There is no Photoshop or airbrushing.
To get a dose of naked beach body reality, check out The Real Nude Beach Photography Project where I introduce different people who visit and enjoy Gunnison nude beach.
Oftentimes, when a person is “disgusted” by average bodies, it is just a reflection of their own discomfort with their appearance. As Bob Belcher once said, “Nude beaches are full of overweight, out of shape old bodies and I don’t wanna go there and realize I look exactly like that.” (In actuality there are people of all different body types and ages at a nude beach, but you get the point.)
So work on your body image and try to do a little less judging of others.
Also, if you’re going to the nude beach for the purpose of looking at others’ bodies for your own sexual gratification, that’s called a voyeur. Naturists don’t like voyeurs.
Myth #10. You have to have a slim and toned body to join a naturist club or place.
Naturism is not about showing off how fit, toned and tanned you are. It’s about acceptance of people just as they are, regardless of what they look like. On a nude beach, no body is perfect, and everyone has flaws.
There are all types of bodies, and no one should feel like they’re not good-looking enough to be there. A naturist setting is the one place where you can feel like you are good enough!
Felicity Jones, author of Felicity's Blog, is a 3rd-generation nudie, avid reader, and feminist. When she's not busy eating, she writes about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. She likes feedback, so find her here: Facebook Instagram Twitter