Musings about Clothing-Optional 2.0 – Naked Wanderings

  • February 11, 2023

We received a message on our YouTube channel today. Someone asked whether “it is okay to wear only boxers when visiting a naturist place“. We explained that it is not. In fact, that the only types of clothing that really are considered a big no-no are underwear and bathing suits. Well, visibly that is, if it’s freezing outside and you’re wearing pants and a jacket, feel free to wear some undies too. But only boxers? Nope.


This got us thinking. Why would someone want to walk around in only boxers? Interestingly, we have no issues at all being naked among other people at any venue that allows it, but the thought of wearing only underwear feels kinda awkward. We believe that we would feel more naked in underwear than if we were actually naked. Is that strange? Have we gotten too deep into naturism?



Sexy on the nude beach

We feel the same about thongs and tiny bikinis, by the way, which are not an uncommon sight on nude beaches. Those things won’t keep you warm nor will they protect you from anything. The only reasons that we can come up with are the shame of going full monty or to sexualize your body. When we did a bit of research about this, we stumbled upon the lingerie website Clovia, which claims that their thongs “enhance your sex appeal, self-confidence and make you feel super sexy“. That’s all very nice, but the nude beach isn’t really a place where you are expected to “feel super sexy”.


So we could conclude that the people who want to wear underwear in naturist places would either do so for the wrong reasons or out of shame. This element of shame is really interesting. Some people wear a thong because they’re ashamed to be completely naked. While we would be ashamed wearing nothing but a thong, and not when we’re completely naked. Where does that difference come from?


We believe that it’s in the power of habit. When we think back about our non-naturist days, we probably would have worn a plastic bag if it meant that we didn’t have to be naked. Only by spending more and more time without clothes in naturist environments, we learned to appreciate our bare skin more than any type of clothes (or plastic for that matter). But this has taken some time.



What’s practical?

Back in the day, there wasn’t really much of an in between. Either you were at a naturist place and expected to be totally naked, or you were at a non-naturist place and expected to be everything but totally naked. But the times are changing and the concept of clothing-optional has sneaked its way into naturism. Sometimes quite straightforward, in the sense of resorts calling themselves “clothing-optional”. Other times more gently, like at the French naturist campsites where dressing up for dinner seems to be more accepted than dining naked, even if it’s still 35°C.


It can also be the other way around. We, naturists, like to stand behind the slogan “nude when practical, clothed when necessary”, but who are we to define for someone else what is practical? Is 20°C still practical? How about 15°C? Or 5°C? We kid you not, we’ve seen naked people at 5°C. Kudos to them, but the day that they become the benchmark, we’re moving to a tropical place.


Which brings us back to shame. Shame is an extreme form of discomfort and discomfort is all but practical. So we could argue that feeling ashamed of your nudity would be a valid reason to wear clothes. But then how will you get rid of that shame?



Away with clothing-optional

Die-hard naturists will tell you that clothing-optional is the devil. Or at least that it’s good for absolutely nothing. It’s the nude way or the highway, just as it has been dictated at naturist venues for centuries. In a way, they are right. We took our first steps into social nudity in a nude spa where the rules were very strict: all clothes go off in the dressing room. Period. You are allowed to wear a bathrobe to walk between the facilities, but in the pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and whatever other warm and humid things they provide, you shall be naked.


It’s the trick with the band-aid on the hairy body part. Pulling it off slowly will only give you more opportunities to stop. While one hard pull may hurt like hell, at least it’ll be over quickly. Should we go back to the traditional naturist club where you put your clothes in a locker at the reception? Nudity is a pillar of naturism, so why not just ban clothes completely at naturist places?


This may sound like an ideal solution, but it has a big flaw. It makes the first steps into naturism much larger. We’ve talked to numerous people who visit nude beaches but are reluctant to go to a naturist resort. The main reason why is almost unanimous. They don’t want to feel pressured to be naked at times or in circumstances when they don’t feel like it.



What if the spa was clothing-optional?

We wonder if that nude spa, back in the day, had been a clothing-optional one, whether we would have gotten naked too. As this was our first time, and we had no idea what to expect, we would definitely have brought bathing suits. And we would have been wearing them when entering the spa.


If everyone else was naked, the awkward feeling of being the only bathing suit in the room would probably have drawn us over the line pretty quickly. We would have silently sneaked into a corner, quickly undress, and act as if we never wore clothes before.


If half was naked and half was clothed, we’d probably not get naked on the first visit. But we might have the second time (or maybe the 5th) because seeing those naked people enjoy the jacuzzi would tickle our curiosity to also want to experience this.


If more than let’s say 60% of the others were in bathing suits, we’re pretty certain that we would have kept ours on as well. Then the naked people would be a minority. They would be the strange ones. And that’s where the whole philosophy of clothing-optional falls apart.



The pink gym shorts

Over the years, we’ve learned to be comfortably naked in any given circumstance. But not everyone has the privilege of spending a significant amount of time at places where nudity is accepted. We’ve met people who have been going on naturist vacations for 20 years, and still find the first couple of minutes after the clothes go off a bit awkward. Being surrounded by naked people is an encouragement. If most others would be clothed, it would just increase the discomfort.


We’re a bit in a chicken or egg situation here. Giving people the chance to choose when to get naked and when not will definitely improve the odds that they’ll go to a naturist resort in the first place. But too many clothed people will only discourage others to get naked. We need to create a balance that is comfortable for everybody.


The question is “how?”. You can’t really ask visitors on arrival when exactly they plan to undress. Maybe we should allow guests to only wear clothes provided by the resort. Like when you forgot your sports clothes for gym class and had to wear oversized pink shorts with flowers. That’ll encourage them to get naked!



Clothing-optional 2.0

There is a better solution though, and one that is being applied a lot at large naturist campsites in France. Technically, they maintain a clothing-optional policy, but nudity is obligatory in and around the water facilities. In other words, if you want to do the cool stuff, you got to get naked. We were talking to the owners of such a resort one day, who employ students during the summer months. We asked them if any of the students were naturists. They replied: “Not yet, but wait until it gets 40°C“.


We believe that this is the way forward. We shouldn’t just start allowing clothes at naturist places in general, but neither should we keep enforcing nudity “when practical”. Instead, we should give people a reason to get naked. Thinking back about that day in the spa, we actually could have remained covered if we wanted to. We had the bathrobe. We could have just wandered around all day with our hands in our pockets. The reason why we didn’t, is because we wanted to get into the jacuzzi and the sauna. The reason why those students will eventually get naked is that one day or another, they won’t be able to resist the call from the pool.


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