How Long Should You Wait To Tell The World You're A Nudist?

First in a series

Have you ever thought about why you enjoy being a nudist or naturist so much? If so, you probably used terms like a "sense of freedom," "pleasure," "relaxation," and "self-acceptance." Or, you may have thought of naturism as a safe, natural and healthy environment for children. It could be the welcoming atmosphere no matter which club or beach you visit or the friendly, supportive, and caring friends you have met. You probably can think of many more reasons. Surely you have wished that everyone could feel the same as you and that you could say without reservation "Hey world, I'm a nudist!"

Acknowledging an alternative way of life (or "coming out") as a nudist or naturist may make you feel vulnerable because you are sharing personal information or feelings with others without truly knowing how they will react. Many naturists keep their nude activities secret from their parents, children, other relatives and even friends. They often worry that someone will accidentally find out, or that people will ask about the "camp" they go to on weekends, ask to be invited or say they want to come along on one of the next trips. Unfortunately, when you can't be totally honest, you find yourself lying, making excuses or being forced to tell the truth under very unfavorable circumstances. This is not only stressful but also harmful to relationships, especially if the other party finds out and recognizes your lack of trust in them. In addition, keeping your nudism a secret gives the appearance of an admission of guilt..."Why else wouldn't you have told me?" Most agree it would be far more beneficial if naturists could discuss their mode of living openly and without fear of repercussion.

There are many benefits to being "out." These are just a few examples:

  • Allows you to retain integrity knowing you are being genuine with family, friends and those you care about.
  • Being truthful and open can produce feelings of trust and confidence that build strong bonds.
  • Eliminates the anxiety about having your nudist activities divulged by an individual who accidentally discovers your involvement while browsing the Internet.
  • Allows you to feel comfortable with your way of life.
  • Eliminates the fear of meeting a friend or coworker at a nudist event.
  • You can freely speak of your activities with pride and enthusiasm.
  • Puts you in control of how and when you share your information.
  • You can be an advocate for nude recreation and recruit different populations such as families, friends, and young adults.
  • Facilitates full participation in all aspects of nudist activities and use of one's full name or a photo in nudist publications.
  • You won't feel guilty because you prefer to be with your nudist friends because you can invite your non-nudist friends to join you.
  • Lastly, once most of your friends know, you will have the pleasure of watching others' reactions when you casually mention something that suggests you are a nudist.

As each person publicly discloses his or her nudism, it begins to create a more positive opinion among non-nudists. Friends, relatives and colleagues will now realize they know someone who both practices naturism but is also the very same person they may have known for years and have come to admire, respect or love. Additionally, as nudism becomes a more understood and acceptable mode of living, it helps to alter the archaic restrictive rules that governments and societies have foisted upon the nudist community. In turn, it ultimately leads to a more safe, secure and nonjudgmental existence for all of us who enjoy the right to be clothes-free in appropriate places.

Barriers To Acknowledging Your Nudism

Of course, there are instances when not disclosing that you are a nudist seems to be the safest choice. Some naturists do not expect to ever reveal their nudist activities because they work for employers or belong to religious organizations that would never approve. Today, the Internet and social media such as Facebook and Twitter are rapidly eroding the expectation or guarantee of privacy, and the chance of someone's "cover being blown" increases almost daily. Sharing that you are a nudist is a serious decision, especially if you are part of the group who would suffer unacceptable consequences even if your admission were proper and sensitively framed. This population includes teachers in communities with moral turpitude laws, employees of religious groups or small privately owned businesses with strong dogmatic opposition to nudity, and individuals whose relatives have deep-seated religious or cultural views against nudity.

To better prepare for unexpected disclosure, people who might encounter punitive responses should analyze potential situations and plan their responses in advance, using some of the strategies that will be shared in future articles. For example, they may consider gaining experience and confidence by telling a few people with whom they feel safe. If they have friends with influence on an employer or organization, they should consider them allies and include them as well because in sensitive situations, it is often effective when a respected individual states, "I've known for years that he was a nudist. You've always considered him a valuable employee/member. Nothing has changed, so what is your concern?"

An important objective when discussing your naturism is to promote knowledge, a positive attitude and comfort with the fact that you enjoy nude recreation and believe it to be a normal, wholesome activity. It is tempting to try convincing people that they too should become nudists and perhaps at a later and more opportune time you might consider the challenge of inviting friends to experience nude recreation. However, your goal at this time is acceptance. Disclosure is not an all or nothing process. You can initially come out only to your "safest" friends and then, as you feel comfortable, progress to others. Before you know it, you will be sharing with numerous friends. And what if one of them tells someone else? No problem. They will probably do it in a casual conversation that implies they are totally cool with it—and they will have saved you the effort of telling the person yourself.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, most of us are much safer out in the open than living with a secret. Often, individuals whose nudism has been disclosed without their permission recognize too late that being secretive has given their opponent total control of how their way of life was revealed. You can begin the sharing process by asking yourself, "Why am I a nudist?" It's amazing how many people can't answer that question! Just think about it, write it all down and then edit it into a 30-second "elevator speech" that you are prepared to give should the situation arise. This technique is just one of many that will appear in the next issue's Part II to help you inform people you are a nudist, feel less vulnerable when you are doing so, and produce a more positive outcome. As for how long you should wait to tell people—by the end of the series you should be able to answer that question for yourself!

How Long Should You Wait To Tell The World You're A Nudist? (Part 3)

Third in a series

Parts I and II hopefully convinced you that being open about your nudism is something to strive for and helped you prepare valid and spontaneous responses to challenging comments. Part III addresses understanding the barriers to acknowledging your nudism and some strategies for successful disclosure.

Sharing your information

Why do so many nudists and naturists cringe at the thought of coming out? Most likely the reasons stem from the negative myths and stereotypes they assume the outside world believes about this mode of living. They believe that nudity is sinful; nudism is illegal; nudists are swingers; or, children in nudist camps are at risk for abuse. Even without the extremely pejorative stereotypes, nudists and naturists may be considered strange, members of a cult and on the fringe of society. These damaging opinions exist because non-nudists are often uninformed about the positive benefits of nudism, the wide variety of society who enjoys clothes-free living and the stringent behavioral expectations and philosophy posed by AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) and TNS (The Naturist Society). Moreover, until the general public learns the truth about nudism, those who practice it may continue to suffer undeserved repercussions such as fear of discovery, discrimination, criticism and job loss.
 
If you master the techniques presented in this series, your listeners are more likely to accept your information with approval and in a positive fashion. However, there still remains the possibility of disapproval, anger, rejection or other negative reactions. Since there is often some uncertainty about the factors that could affect the outcome, the key to success is identifying the most beneficial techniques for each situation and having an alternative approach in case things don't go as expected.

A natural instinct when telling someone for the first time that you are a nudist is to find a private place and nervously say, "You're my best friend and there's something you really should know. You're the only person I'm telling so please don't tell anyone else."

You then "confess" to being a nudist and when the listener reacts with shock or horror, you spend the rest of the conversation trying to convince him or her that nudism is really OK. This approach is likely to be ineffective because your body language suggests shame or guilt about an activity some believe to be immodest, immoral or illegal. For this reason, other approaches are recommended in most situations.

Before sharing your information, analyze the psychology of the situation and try to anticipate the person's possible responses to different approaches. If you are telling parents or elders, they may feel an obligation to "correct" or "protect" you if they think you are doing something you may later regret. People having stature in the community (professor, doctor, pastor, community leader, business executive) may also feel you should respect their opinion. Either case can be challenging if their way of thinking differs from yours as they may try to convince you to accept their "superior judgment." However, with people who hold you in esteem, telling them may be less difficult because they are more likely to accept your judgment even if they do not agree with it.

Personality should also be taken into account. If your listeners are open-minded, thoughtful, tolerant, adventurous, willing to take risks or try new things, successfully telling them may be relatively easy. If they tend to be closed-minded, quick to jump to conclusions, intolerant, opinionated or resistant to change, successfully telling them may be more challenging.

When considering whom to tell, make the risk-to-reward ratio one of the factors in your decision. If you feel the risks are high and the rewards low, you can choose to delay sharing your information until you have gained competence. Or, you may also choose to withhold the information. However, with situations where you have decided the risks are low and the rewards high, telling this population should not be an issue.

Whom to tell first depends on several variables. If you live far away from family and relatives, your circle of friends may not have contact with them and may be a good place to start. If these friends are likely to be receptive and easy to tell, you can begin practicing some casual approaches and gaining experience and confidence before telling more challenging people. If, however, your casual friends interact with close friends who may be less receptive to the information, consider telling the latter first. This requires more preparation, but avoids having someone else mention it before you do, insinuating that you weren't trustful enough to tell them yourself.

Sharing personal information for the first time is stressful because of uncertainty in how listeners will respond. You may feel less vulnerable by beginning with casual friends and those who seem likely to accept the information positively. With experience, confidence and success, you can gradually include the most challenging folks.

Part IV provides some strategies for telling friends who are likely to receive your revelation

Editors Note: This article and the articles that follow in the series are based on the work of the Joint AANR/TNS Ad Hoc Committee on Sharing Your Naturism.