It ain’t no typo, ya’ nuderstand? If you nuderstand me, you stand by me in nude solidarity! It’s a nuder understanding, an understanding without the underwear!
Words are tools of thought. Sometimes, to express new thoughts, or even to refresh old ones, we need new tools. The language that we use to speak and write about naturism and nudism is key in helping textiles move toward an understanding of why living nude is not only fun but vital. That understanding is what I’d like to think of as nuderstanding!
There are some great terms in the nudist/naturist world that were coined precisely to accommodate new nuderstandings. I’m thinking of The Naturist Society founder Lee Baxandall’s insistence on the term topfree (about the right to bare one’s chest) over topless (often though not always about sex). With a similar emphasis on freedom, the folks who produce Nudes in the News have been popularizing the term clothesfree for about a decade now. TNS activist and writer Mark Storey has popularized canuding and other forms of nudification. AANR has cleverly maketed the idea of a nakation to attract more vacationers to that option. Through this blog and twitter feed I’ve come up with a few more terms, though perhaps others have already coined them: nudelore and clothes-trophobic.
Neologisms shouldn’t overwhelm the discourse. If you create too much of a jargon, then you’ve set up a wall for keeping out the unitiated, when what you want to do is the opposite: attract folks to something that may well be an unknown practice, an unexperienced way of being in the world. But creating a new but nuderstandable term, like clothesfree or nakation, can help put a positive spin on the unknown experience, a try-something-new shine, while reconciling the old (for example, canoeing) with the new (doing it nude = canuding).
And just as much to the point, naturists and nudists should shy away from the many euphemisms for our body parts that I won’t even attempt to list or engage here. Body acceptance means accepting our bodies completely, including labias and penises, vulvas and scrotums, buttocks, nipples and breasts.
In Co-ed Naked Philosophy the students who take Dr. Ross’s clothesfree Aesthetics of the Body course decide to form an activist group they call the CRM, Corporal Rights Movement. One of their goals is to “Reclaim the Image” of the nude human body from the porn industry. Their professors coin the term innudators to refer to the group’s innovative members, and also the term uncovery to describe the moment of epiphany when a textile first experiences the liberation of social nudism!
As always, “the medium is the message.” The CRM students learn that leaving your clothes behind whenever possible, while engaging in normal, ethical, everyday activities, is the best message. But words help get the message across, before, during, and after. Please feel free to respond in the comments with more examples of nude-ologisms (oops, another one)!