Nudists Are Not As Uncommon As You Think

by Christine Burke
Originally Published: 
Westend61/Getty Images Dan Jorge Suarez/ Getty Images

I think I’d make a terrible nudist.

In fact, I’m sure of it.

While I’m no prude in the privacy of my own home, I am not someone who is willing to bare it all in locker rooms and swim clubs. Sure, I work out on the regular and try to keep my mom hips from overflowing my jeans, but let’s just say that no one needs to see my mom-sized fun bags in anything less than a bathing suit. You’re welcome.

One of the biggest shocks I had when I turned 40 was finding out that women pretty much give zero fucks when it comes to modesty in the gym locker room. My local gym locker room is a sea of soft mom hips out and proud, along with boobs wild and unrestrained. I get a headache from trying to avoid staring into the headlights of the bush brigade parading around me.

Being naked in front of strangers is so not my bag. I’ll just be over here, covered up in a towel while you prance around n-e-k-k-i-d, ladies. It’s fine. No judgment. Also, love what you’ve done with your lady garden since I last saw you. #NotSureWhereToLook

While I’m a tiny bit envious of women who are comfortable enough in their own skin to bare it all to those around them, I can say with authority that I’ve never felt the need to go topless on a beach or strip down and take a walk in the woods. Frankly, I just don’t have the time for poison ivy in my lady bits, if I’m being perfectly honest.

But, it turns out, nudist colonies and nudism aren’t as uncommon as you’d think. And, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who feel comfortable enough in their own skin to do everything from playing volleyball to running a 5K in the nude.

In fact, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), nude recreation has grown into a $400 million industry, and there are over 270 clubs where people can strip down and be free to recreate in the buff. The AANR states that their mission is to “advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment.”

And, before you judge your neighbor for stripping down next to their pool, there are approximately 213,000 people who do the same in their own yards and in nude recreation clubs across the country.

Nudism is legal at AANR clubs and resorts, and the AANR is always working with local authorities to preserve nude recreation in approved public areas with adequate signage. Nudists are not perverts who want to corrupt your children in the grocery store or the local park. Rather, they are a group of people who see the body as strong and beautiful and who want to live life free of the inhibitions that society has placed on clothing.

So, what’s the big deal?

Why are we so quick to judge those who want to experience life unencumbered by clothing?

Before I researched this topic, I assumed — quite incorrectly, I might add — that nudist resorts were basically places for people to shed their clothing and just hang out naked. And of course, that there were lots of, shall we say, public displays of affection going on.

However, it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Nudism is a lifestyle choice and a way of life that many find relaxing and soothing in today’s busy world. And, it has nothing to do with sex or feeling sexual around others who are naked. By stripping away clothing and signs of wealth, nudists are able to accept each other regardless of social standing and class distinctions. Many nudists feel their self-esteem is enhanced by accepting those around them as they really are.

We could all use a little more acceptance and social tolerance in our lives, right?

And, there’s nude etiquette, too.

At most clubs, according to Mental Floss, guests of nude resorts must have a towel with them at all times, for sanitary reasons. Guests may also wear shoes for obvious reasons and jewelry isn’t off limits. And, many clubs have “clothing optional” gatherings for newbies where newcomers can wear clothing until they feel comfortable enough with their surroundings go full on buck. Oh, and you can forget cameras for obvious reasons.

Perhaps most surprising to me was that most nudist clubs prefer that couples join, rather than singles, in an effort to keep the male to female ratio even. And, public displays of affection are off limits. Nudists are very clear to point out that their desire to hang out in their birthday suits is not a sexual experience.

While I freely admit that I say no to exposing my crack to anyone other than my husband, I admire nudists and naturists for celebrating the human body as beautiful and normal in any shape and size. And the thought of not wearing a bra during a weeklong visit to a nude resort certainly has its merits. That alone would be liberating AF, am I right, ladies?

So, while I am not going to hurry to book my next vacation at one of the almost 300 nude resorts in the U.S., I would consider going topless at an appropriate beach location. Because sitting on a sunny beach, bra-free and with a good book, sounds like a perfect way to spend my time. Maybe.

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