Why I am a Young, Body Acceptance Advocate and Not a Nudist!
I am in the younger generation that is so often spoken about by older nudists; that we are to be sought to maintain club numbers and the existence of a clothes-free lifestyle. I discovered clothes-freedom when I was 15. Sitting outside with my mother and brother on a hot summer’s evening, my brother and I were in our underwear and had been splashing each other with water trying to cool off. I found my underwear wet, warm and saggy. It was at that moment I simply thought, why was I putting up with the discomfort? I stood up, removed my underwear and sat back down. Of course, my younger brother joked and my mother gave me a curious look, but I was not shamed and I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. While my parents were not nudists, luckily I grew up in a body positive environment where they bathed with us as kids, slept nude and incidental nudity when getting dressed was a non-issue. This gave me the confidence to question the need for clothing in the safe environment of my family.
A couple of years later I found a local nudist group online and my partner at the time and I joined. By far the youngest members, we enjoyed the opportunity to swim and socialise with people who shared our interest. Throughout that time, however, I did not feel comfortable referring to myself as a nudist. To me, a nudist was the other people in the club; older and who preferred a more relaxed lifestyle. Reading naturist magazines did nothing to dispel this; constant articles referring to idle games of petanque, miniten and sitting around beaches, BBQs and dinner parties reinforced the message.
The events that interested me as a young person were more about physical activity and socialisation; beach games, World Naked Bike Rides, Bare to Breakers, Spencer Tunick, Perth Skinny Dip and the Winter Solstice Nude Swim. Young people were largely represented and they did not necessarily define themselves as nudists, they were simply enjoying an opportunity for social nude recreation.
These days, as a mid-thirties parent, my enjoyment of clothes-freedom is not structured. Clubs no longer exist where I live and opportunities for nude recreation are confined to my home, where my toddler's preferred default is “rudie nudie” playtime with mum and dad. I am still uncomfortable with referring to myself as a nudist. Even the branding “clothes free” could be improved. Yes, it demonstrates freedom, but the focus is on the clothes; the focus should be the body or the experience itself. I now prefer to say I enjoy body freedom when describing my nude recreation.
Looking back on my time in a club, I would have preferred more organic and active social nudity; events like hiking, body painting, beach games, 4WD and mud runs. Social media did not exist when I was discovering nudism, but it is apparent today that I am not alone. There are young, body positive people out there, whether they be on Get Naked Australia, a “feel the freedom of flashing” group or getting tagged in an article on nude beaches by their friends for skinny dipping. These people also share an enjoyment of clothes-free recreation but do not necessarily define themselves as nudists. Any group that has nudist or naturist in their name fails the “elevator pitch” in attracting these people.
Interested in further thoughts on branding? Check out "Does nudism need a re-brand for a new generation?"