An acquaintance and I had a discussion maybe two months ago and the title question was the subject of our discourse. I’m unsure as to how the topic arose, but he was adamant that “there is no such thing as a modest nudist.” He continued his tirade with the statement that all nudists are closeted exhibitionists so the two cannot be compatible. I work with this individual and he is aware that in my leisure time, I am a bare practitioner (naturist/nudist).
Before I even began to question his authority on the issue, I asked him how many nudists did he know personally. His reply said wonders about his credibility on this particular topic. He responded to my inquiry with a nod of his head and answered: “One. You.” I need to add here that although he does know my husband, Aaron, he is totally unaware that he also prefers to be clothes-free.
Now this co-worker has, to my knowledge, never seen me naked. I do know that I’ve never seen him without his clothes. I continued my interrogation of him with another several questions: “Since you’ve never seen me nude, how can you say for a fact that I’m an exhibitionist? And how do you know that I’m not modest when I’m nude?”
He merely shrugged his shoulders and looked elsewhere. He had no idea how to reply to my questions. Needless to say, this discussion was essentially over. This person doesn’t like to lose any argument, whether it’s with me or with our school’s dean. He always wants to have the final say on every topic.
Like any other segment of the population, the naturist/nudist community is as diverse as there are no rigid qualifying criteria for membership. There are some who are very shy about their bodies (especially in front of the opposite gender). I should know, I’m happily married to one of them. Aaron has no problems being seen naked by hundreds of men, but let a woman (nude or not) into the mix and his hands rapidly cover his genitalia. Why? I have no idea nor does he, except that a woman is present.
As strange as it may appear to some, there are within the naturist/nudist community those persons who are somewhat uncomfortable about their body being completely exposed for all to see. This phenomena isn’t necessarily a product of body-shame or of a puritanical legacy. It may be a natural reaction on their part in not drawing undue attention to themselves in any situation. I can relate to this as I’m not always the most outgoing person in certain circumstances and there are occasions when I appreciate the anonymity that withdrawal provides. My typical response may not be as extreme as covering my genitalia when in a bare environment, but it may involve me trying to “blend” in with others and back-stepping from the fore-front.
For someone to make a very authoritative and judgmental statement concerning naturists/nudists and nudity, as did my colleague, is unfounded and based on complete ignorance. My coworker has never even tried social nudity and, aside from myself, doesn’t even know anyone who is a bare practitioner. In academia, most of us are all to aware that if one is unfamiliar with the subject matter, it is best to not to make pronouncements on the material. I feel my fellow staff member should keep his opinions to himself or, at the very least, discuss his personal views on social nudity behind my back rather than if front of my face.
As to modesty and nudity, my philosophy has always been to each his own. There is no master blueprint on how we are supposed to live our lives. None of us are in a position to dictate how others choose to live. Regarding nudity, each of us has to function at our own comfort level: with or without clothes. There is no “supreme pontiff of nudity” to issue pronouncements on what or isn’t acceptable in the clothes-free world. What may be natural for one may be uncomfortable for another. For example, some are not bothered to walk around in their bare feet. Others prefer the protection of sandals or other footwear in order to prevent foot injury and for their personal comfort.
It is the prerogative of each one of us to be as relaxed with our nakedness according to our own level of comfort. We’re all bare because it feels good. Let’s enjoy the experience, each in his or her own way!