We try and keep the content of this website upbeat and bathed in sunshine - you can get your fix of grumbling and grey skies elsewhere, but here at BN we always have a smile on our faces. After all, Naturism is an exhilarating, uplifting and fun experience that makes you feel great! Sometimes we hear worthy, serious debates on the issues that face us, the challenges, stories of persecution, the law being misunderstood and we all know the trials of making people understand Naturism, but there is another growing trend that threatens our very existence.
Clothes. In Naturist places.
I’m lucky to travel a fair bit in my work, both in the UK and overseas. Having been a Naturist since the early 1990s I also have more than a few years of experience - and I don’t like what I’m seeing.
Newcomers could be forgiven for imagining that a changing room exists behind the entrance to a Naturist resort, and everyone is forced, perhaps under the gaze of a particularly strict headmistress-type to undress fully and immediately. Of course, that’s not the case, and in the main, people are left to grow accustomed to the surroundings and strip off when they feel ready.
But for most of us, once the clothes are off, they are off and we revel in the need not to think about what to wear. The climate sometimes dictates that you put something on but one imagines that a Naturist resort is selected because of the desire to be nude. And, yes, I know that there are new people, hesitant people, reluctant partners, children and teenagers - but nudity is what marketing people call our ‘USP’ (Unique Selling Proposition) and so perhaps like a windsurfing or golfing holiday where you’d expect to see lots of windsurfers and golfers, being nude and being amongst nude people is the default position.
But what’s happening is that there are more people in resorts dressed than nude and the only place where you are likely to encounter the opposite is the swimming pool where nudity is obligatory (hallelujah!) or the beach. It can make a lovely change from the home routine to dress for dinner, but equally, so is taking advantage and experiencing the joy of eating without a stitch on, contrary to our behaviour in 99% of the world’s eating places.
So what’s it all about?
The main culprit is the resorts themselves. On one recent trip, it was made clear that nudity was not permitted in the restaurant (all day, not just the evening), the onsite shop, reception and even the beach bar. You don’t always plan in advance your visit to those places and so you have to spend your day in a state of prepared-ness. This has the effect of people not only having to carry a cover up or more, but in many cases, they don’t bother to undress at all. Many people passed me on my (nude) travels around the site with t-shirt and shorts on. I even saw a woman cycling to the shop one morning in a one-piece bathing costume. Newcomers will naturally pick up clues about etiquette or ‘normal’ behaviour and the more that dress, the more will follow that lead. Even I have felt uncomfortable being naked in a Naturist resort…crazy. I whipped off my T-shirt dancing to the band in the bar one night as I felt hot…no one followed my lead.
Sometimes I have found that the rules are not enforced. I’ll often visit the site shop naked and wait to be told off, but I never have been, the same in reception areas. I expect the rule is often a local authority thing - a bye-law that the site have to at least pay lip service to by putting up signs. I’m no anarchist, but of course, most people will obey them.
I’ve attended fitness classes, yoga and pilates, mid-summer in beautifully hot places, the sea shimmering in the distance - but everyone sweating fully dressed in lycra, leotards and t-shirts. An onsite spa didn’t insist that bikinis were left in lockers though at one place, I did discover that volleyball must be played naked, even by children and teens.
Resorts that have scuba or sailing schools often advertise them outside the resort and non-residents come and take advantage. That’s fine, great actually, for normalising nudity but of course they keep their kit on, including on the beach after their session. Sometimes restaurants are open to non-residents and the rule is not ‘When in Rome’ but that the Romans must put their clobber on.
Actually, eating and drinking is a particularly interesting subject to study. I can’t fathom if it is based on rules, custom, or practice (I guess it differs from place to place) but almost all of the places I’ve been people dress to eat. Is it as simple as wanting to enjoy their meat and two veg without looking at, er, someone else’s? German and Dutch Naturists I know look at me boggle-eyed when I talk about eating nude as if I’ve suggested they coat themselves in raspberry jam and dance a tango.
Sometimes people say they are dressed in deference to the staff. You’d never really expect staff to undress - it’s hard enough to find good people without adding that requirement, but surely if they’ve taken a job in a Naturist place they’ve accepted the dress code. You do see some of them naked round the pool or on the beach. One resort does insist all staff work without clothes and they are inundated with applications every year. The owner of that resort has also written an article about how the sarong is the destroyer of Naturist worlds. Good man. And while I’m on other authors on this same subject, please see the article ‘French Dressing’ in BN208, Summer 2016. BN Members can download it from the BN website.
Some places have a rule about dressing after a certain time of day, or when inside the buildings. They are popular places so it can’t be a problem, but it means you need a much bigger suitcase…
Many Naturists champion the idea of ‘clothes-optional’ places and especially beaches populated by the swimsuited, the topless and the nude, happily co-existing. However, when we choose a Naturist resort for a holiday it’s not unreasonable to expect nudity not to be limited or only tolerated. It’s easy for me to sound like a grumpy old man, but we have relatively few places already to relax without our clothes without that freedom being eroded inside those very places.
Thanks to Rob Hargreaves for the image which whilst not taken with this article in mind, perfectly illustrates the point!