One encouraging result of the Fall Arts Festival at Oaklake Trails is that one of the artists who attended has decided to make naturism the topic of her research paper in a sociology course. She asked to interview me, so we did, but the tape recorder wasn’t working properly and so I wrote a summary of the main ideas we discussed – that summary starts below this paragraph. But I also recommended to her the recent, very well-written posts by Sky Clad Therapist and the blogger for East Texas Area Naturists. These posts provide great insight into exactly what we gain and what we lose in our attempts to define what it is we are and what it is we do.
People go to a naturist park for freedom, above all. Even though there are people of many different political stripes (Green, Democrat, Libertarian, Republican, etc.) and religious backgrounds, they all strongly support the basic agreement: that if the weather is nice, they shouldn’t have to wear clothes. That’s the basic agreement, and around that are built some rules. An example of a rule is: no tolerance for overt sexual activity, just as there would not be most anywhere else. Another rule is no photography without consent.
Also from the basic agreement of freedom from clothes there spring some corollaries. An example of a corollary is that people observe more openness and tolerance – a democratic effect accompanying social nudism that means that you “can’t tell the baker from the banker” since clothing as a status marker is gone.
While it’s true that Arkansas law is too strict to allow the existence of such a place, most states do have parks like Oaklake Trails, all organized through the American Association for Nude Recreation and The Naturist Society. (The Naturist Society is more focused on advocating nude use of public lands.) Other countries have similar groups, like in Brazil, the Federação Brasileira de Naturismo and in Canada, the Federation of Canadian Naturists along with the Fédération Québécoise de Naturisme.
In my experience, younger people tend to be more cautious about joining anything / “committing to” anything, whether it’s a movement or a membership. Young Naturists America, Nurba, and Vita Nuda, however, are a few groups not based on a physical location that are gathering momentum lately among youth. Older people tend to have the attitude, the time, and the money, generally, to invest in the actual founding and upkeep of the special places that are naturist parks. Older people may tend to know better, with greater confidence from experience, what they want out of life, and arrive at a point in their lives when they have the resources to make a commitment. The right-hand column of this blog features many more links to sites and groups that honor the basic agreement of freedom from the tyranny of clothes.
For some people, skinny-dipping is a “bucket-list” kind of experience. Often, though, after just one time swimming “un-costumed,” people understand (or, nuderstand) better what it’s all about and seek opportunities for more such experiences. But what normally stops people from having even one naturist experience is a fear of shame that they have been conditioned to accept since they were children. As adults they lack either the will or the desire–or even the knowledge–to break out of that conditioned shame of the body (especially the nude body), so they end up preferring that very shame over what they perceive as a fear, or a crime, or a sin.