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 7)

Final Installment

By now, we hope you may have found the courage, conviction and strategies to be open about your nudism or naturism with more people in your life. This should be an on-going process so that an increasing segment of society not only understands what nudism really means but are also motivated to try nude recreation themselves.  Part VII ends this series.  It offers two final disclosure strategies along with suggestions for acknowledging positive support and evaluating your approaches to see what has worked or to create new and different strategies that you can share with others.

Using positive deviance and personal stories

Positive deviance refers to an uncommon action that differs from 'the way things are usually done,' but whose outcome is well intended and successful. Nudists are often considered different than others because they believe in their right and privilege to be clothing free with their friends.  Actually, the nudist community and their national organizations use positive deviance frequently in public relations events such as sponsored beach cleanups and skinny dips; wearing clothes or displaying items with pro-nudist slogans like "I'm a nudist and I vote;" and even the occasional peaceful public protest. 

Intentional communities (or special interest groups) are typically subsets of a broad cross section of society that share a particular activity or characteristic, i.e., vegetarians, sport enthusiasts, volunteers for particular charities and the like. Each group embraces its particular interest area with enthusiasm and the desire to share this with others. Their personal stories are often very persuasive in involving people in their cause, recruiting others into their group or helping others understand the basis of their passion.  This equally applies to nudists.  Nudists represent all segments of society but are viewed as different because they share the unique characteristic of enjoying freedom from clothing when socializing with their friends. Most nudists have a story about how their life, or the life of someone they know, has been dramatically improved by the body acceptance, increased self-confidence, self esteem and supportive community that come naturally with nude living and recreation. Continuing to tell these stories demonstrates that a nudist's life may actually be better and more fulfilling than that of the general population. 

Acknowledging acceptance

More often than not, good friends, family and colleagues will accept the disclosure of your nudism in a matter of fact manner.  It is equally important to acknowledge their acceptance, providing positive reinforcement for both of you.  The exercise below contains suggested responses to a listener's positive statement.  You can also initiate the acknowledgement by stating, "Thank you for letting me share something that is truly meaningful to me.  There are so many misconceptions about nudists and nude recreation it is good to be able to tell it like it is and dispel the myths.  I wish everybody could understand the benefits that we derive from the right to be clothing free with our friends."

Recipient's positive comment

Reciprocal affirmations

Thank you for sharing this information.

I expected you would be perfectly ok with it and it is so much more comfortable to be able to talk about this important part of my life.

I had a hunch that both of you were nudists.

We really want people to know how positive and healthy this lifestyle is.

I never thought about the benefits that come with nudism or naturism.

       OR

You make it sound wonderful.

Truly, it provides us with relaxation, a sense of freedom, self-acceptance and esteem...I could go on and on about this.

Who knows...perhaps I would consider it some day.

It would be wonderful to have you meet the friendly folks at our camp.  And most people who try nude recreation end up saying, "I wish I had done this years ago."

I had my doubts about children being in a nudist environment.

Children are natural nudists. It is healthy for them to see that most of us do not look like the models on TV and in the movies.  And at our facility we safeguard the wellbeing of all of our guests and visitors, but particularly our children

I assumed that most religions would frown on naturism.

There are some that do, but we have devout, conservative members who feel that their nudism is compatible with their religious beliefs. In fact there is a Christian Nudists Association.

You know, a lot of people aren't going to accept this as well as I did.

You are right...that's why we hope folks like you will be able to dispel some of the misconceptions that others hold.

Evaluating your success

Evaluation of your approaches and results should be the final step.  If you have learned a new technique...such as a particularly effective verbal response, story or slogan...share this with fellow nudists and AANR/TNS so that they can be shared more broadly with other nudists/naturists. Every situation is different, and as such, you should identify which approaches work best for a particular situation, exactly how to use them, and when to apply them.  With practice, you will figure out how individuals might react to information that differs from their attitudes or that alters their belief about their influence and control over you. And despite all good intention, there is always the possibility of unknown factors negatively affecting the outcome you desired.  If this occurs, try to analyze the cause and remember that being prepared with contingency plans should always be part of the strategy.

Summary

The information that has been presented throughout the series can be used to successfully tell the world you are a nudist, educate them about nudism and naturism and then thank them for their positive acceptance as reinforcement.  Using the philosophy of public health, our goal should be 'the greatest good for the greatest number.' Thus, each of us has a role in promoting the right and privilege to be clothing free in acceptable places and in greatly increasing those places deemed to be acceptable!  Even those who legitimately are unable to reveal their nudist way of life can help to change public attitudes toward nude recreation by writing letters to legislators or commenting positively and factually in blog posts and news articles.

Robbie Collins, the second major American team player to openly acknowledge being gay recently said: 'The more people that choose to live an honest and genuine life, the better it is for everyone ... [and the more it] will change people's perceptions and challenge the misconceptions out there."  This is a message for all of us.

PS: How long should you wait to tell the world you're a nudist?  The answer is NOW!! 

 

Editor’s Note: This article and other articles in this series are based on the work of the Joint AANR/TNS Ad Hoc Committee on Sharing your Naturism.