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 5)

Fifth in a Series

Part IV explained how to tell people who are likely to respond positively to the information about your being a nudist. Part V offers some strategies for situations that may be more difficult.

More complex situations

A greater challenge exists when you tell a family member, relative or close friend who may have some initial doubts but who you expect will ultimately be OK with your choice.

If you have a close family relationship and expect their acceptance of your way of living, consider telling them first, especially if you plan to tell mutual friends who might reveal it to them. Family members might feel hurt if they learn from others you were withholding information out of distrust. If your family has strong cultural or religious beliefs against nudity, consider holding off telling them until you have confidently shared with others who do not know them and are unlikely to reveal the information.

"Steer the conversation so that your disclosure seems a natural part of the conversation."

Arrange some quality time where you can spend a few hours by yourselves without being interrupted, such as during a meal, a long drive, golf twosome, fishing in a boat or just relaxing in a quiet place.  Allow time to talk about other things before and after you tell them, and avoid any possible implication that you are meeting just to talk about your nudism. Steer the conversation so that your disclosure seems a natural part of the conversation.

Dropping some hints before the actual conversation can also be helpful. You can allude to your nudism by sharing something from your personal experience, for example: "My friend and I had a great vacation in Florida.  We went to a beach where we could go skinny-dipping and my friend found an incredible piece of sea glass that she will use for jewelry.  Are you familiar with sea glass?"  Here you can hint you are a nudist, but don’t really say it.

Giving little clues over a period of weeks or months should cause the person to begin to wonder, "Could 'Tom' or 'Stacey' actually be a nudist?” This technique is effective in many situations, particularly with someone who tends to react quickly without taking time to thoughtfully analyze unfamiliar information.

Difficult Situations

Difficult situations exist when you need to tell someone who is likely to disagree with your choice and whom you may not be able to convince that your activities are OK (that is, morally, legally, religiously or socially acceptable). Your goal is having them agree to disagree and continue to respect you as the same person and friend they knew previously.

Telling people who may disagree with you requires preparation and planning and possibly some role-playing with a friend. Re-read and practice the assertiveness and inoculation sections in Part II until you are comfortable using both.  If those you are telling tend to be opinionated or to react spontaneously without taking time to process new information, consider dropping hints over time about your interest in social nudity, naturism or skinny dipping. Since they may never have thought about nudism in positive terms, providing hints gives them time to reflect on it.  Then, as described for complex situations, arrange to meet and plan your conversation so it appears only as a casual chat.  Talk about what led up to your present activities and involve your listener in the discussion as much as possible. Read the section on cognitive dissonance and social norming in Part VI for additional useful techniques to support your position.

A particular challenge is telling authority figures who feel they have control over you or the obligation to correct you if they think you are making a poor decision that you may later regret. Here, it may be useful to enlist the help of someone whose judgment they respect and who can convey the information in your absence or be there with you as a support during your disclosure. In the case of a parent who is unlikely to be receptive, consider telling the more accepting parent and asking advice from him or her. The supportive parent may want to be the one to share the information, to decide on the appropriate time to do so or to be present during your conversation.

Part VI will address telling your employer and additional strategies to promote acceptance.

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.