Zen Mischief

World Naked Bike Ride
World Naked Bike Ride
Nude Knits
Nude Knits
Older Naturists
Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

On Nudity and Naturism

Nude when possible; clothed when necessary

As anyone who follows my weblog knows I am a great believer that sexuality and nudity need to be normalised rather than criminalised and marginalised. If only we could be more open and accepting of nudity and our bodies it would bring many health benefits; we would be more able to talk freely with our doctors and hence would have better health outcomes.

The same applies to sexuality. Free, open and frank acknowledgement of sex and sexuality is actually a benefit, as the Dutch demonstrate. By being relaxed about sex and sex education the Dutch have the lowest incidence of unplanned teen pregnancy in the western world. By contrast the repressed and disgusted USA has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world (closely followed by the UK) — several times higher than the Dutch. (See also here and here.)

Nudity is a part of body acceptance and acceptance of sexuality. Nudity is normal and healthy. And no, it is not dirty or sexy or provocative or disgusting except in the mind of the disgusted.

We all have a body. Yes they come in two basic variants, but they are essentially all the same — mine is much the same as yours. Give or take the odd mole and scar we all know what's underneath that t-shirt and jeans. So where is the problem?

The problem is basically in the mind of the perceiver. In general these people are not comfortable with their own bodies, often viewing them as inadequate or somehow dirty and disgusting. Bodies are not dirty, disgusting or obscene of themselves; these are constructs which our minds put on them if we allow them to. And there is no evidence that social nudity leads to either rampant orgies or child abuse.

This is the problem we have to solve. We need to get everyone to be comfortable with their body and in their own skin before they can be comfortable with general social nudity. Some countries, specifically Scandinavia and Holland, can manage this. So why can't we all?

We can. It isn't going to be easy. It will be a long road of education and culture change. But it can be done. It needs people like me and like you to start the process. It needs organisations like British Naturism to explain the evidence and show the model works. But most of all it needs enlightened parents to be comfortable with their and their children's nudity at home and not hide their bodies behind towels or locked shower doors. For if children are brought up to view nudity as a normal part of life then they tend to keep that with them as adults.

I'm lucky, I had bohemian parents who not only treated nudity as normal but took me on holiday several times to a nudist club. So I know from experience that nudity doesn't adversely affect children. If anything children are more accepting of nudity than adults; they have to be taught, by us, to abhor nudity. In fact in 2008 British Naturism looked at the whole area of children and nudity and found there is no evidence that nudity causes harm, alarm or distress; on the contrary there is is evidence of benefit. Their briefing paper makes interesting reading.

Nudity is not just good for our social attitudes, it is actually good for our health. We were designed by Nature to be nude; that's why we are largely hairless. So why do we want to encase our bodies in sweaty clothes? Worse, sweaty clothes made of non-breathable artificial fibres? Air on the skin is good. It means you don't get so horrible and sweaty in all the cracks, which in turn means the skin is better and you have less in the way of fungal infections etc.

There's another way, too, in which body acceptance and nudity are good for our health. The more comfortable we are with out bodies, and the more comfortable we are talking about bodies, nudity and sexuality, then the easier we are going to find it to discuss problems with our doctors. Too many people shy away from discussing "bodily functions" with their doctor because they think "it's not nice" or embarrassing. (They forget that doctors have seen and heard it all before.) This leads to people not getting diagnosed with serious illnesses often until too late. If we are able to talk with our healthcare providers then we are going to see an improvement in overall health and also likely some cost savings for the health service.

Then add sunshine. Mix and repeat. Sun on the skin does two things, beyond just the advantages of fresh air. The UV will help kill off and manage unwanted microbes — so again fewer skin problems. And the sunshine is also needed for the body to make vitamin D. It is widely thought that these days we get so little exposure to the sun we don't make enough vitamin D — and this is made worse by the over-enthusiastic use of sunblock. Vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets and can impair the immune system.

We all feel better for a bit of sunbathing. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? The skin needs to breathe and it needs sunshine to make vitamin D. The brain needs the sunshine too.

All of this is why I'm a nudist. I'm not one to spend my time at naturist clubs or on beaches; for one I'm really not into clubs and as I don't drive travel to remote locations is a challenge. But I do spend as much of my time at home as I can in the nude — I keep a pair of shorts or a dressing gown to hand in case the doorbell rings. I'm comfortable in my body (although of course there are bits I would like to improve). And I'm comfortable with anyone else's body too. I know my skin is better than if I keep it wrapped in clothes all the time. And although I am not a great one for lying cooking in the sun, the air and sunshine I do get outside make me feel better — I should do more of it.

Besides, if it was good enough for Benjamin Franklin it is good enough for me!

We need to normalise nudity (and sexuality) not marginalise and criminalise it.

So how about other people follow my lead: Nude when possible; clothed when necessary

And just so you should not go away with the impression I'm ploughing a lone furrow, I've put together a few quotes on nudity and naturism and their benefits.


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