As with all labels, the answer depends on who you are asking and whether you are actively participating in the community. The two terms are somewhat interchangeable in Canada.
The term “naturalist” is the preferred term for those who enjoy walking naked in public. At the same time, the term “nudists” can be used to describe people who are fun, but less involved in the spiritual and medical aspects of the practice. It can also have negative connotations.
Have a look at this video for a quick understanding of what nudism and naturism mean:
According to the Nude Recreation Association of America, there are at least three nude summer camps and about 260 nude family resorts in North America, nearly double what they were a decade ago. Do you want to know what life is like as a nudist?
Keep reading to know more.
What does nudism mean?
Nudism is the social, non-sexual act of nudity, usually in a mixed group, usually in a designated place, such as a nude beach or a nude club.
Nudism can be distinguished from the practice of voluntary or privately bathing in the nude (“skinny dipping”) in that it is not a voluntary decision to be naked but for an ongoing, conscious, systematic philosophical or lifestyle choice.
Nudism began in Germany in the early 20th century and spread throughout Europe, the United States, and Australia.
The point people drive in nudism is that it pushes this sense of freedom. According to Dave Arter, a member of the nude resort Squaw Mountain Ranch, being nude brings a sense of being one with whatever environment you’re in.
Of course, this type of bold display is often met with criticism from the general public. Being naked with a group of people who have the same beliefs as you is one thing, but being naked among a group of strangers is another. The criticisms see to be rooted in religious views, but some just find it uncomfortable to see people they don’t know nude.
However, with criticism come valid defenses. This paper writes several valid points in defense of nudism, beginning with that it does not pose any severe health threats and restricting someone’s right to be naked would be unfair.
What is the purpose of naturism?
The main purpose of naturism is to promote the stability and wholesomeness of the human mind, spirit, and body. They do this by the act of removing clothes and being naked and “free”.
Primarily, naturists have a perspective that naturism is quite useful because it contains benefits associated with mental health and physical body shape, which helps in enhancing self-esteem and releasing stress.
Its major tenants are linked closely to the harmony with nature, spirituality, and above all family participation – therefore it’s not only targeted towards adults but for all ages.
Furthermore, naturism is considered as a non-sexual activity where the naturists (parents) encourage their children to appreciate their bodies as a significant part of their natural environment.
There was an interesting statement by Stephane Deschenes (a nudity law expert at University of Toronto) in 2016 that Naturism focuses on creating emotional, psychological, and equality between the creations of the God, as all men and women are similar to their own gender, and to achieve that equality it would be unfair if someone is dressed and the other’s are standing nude in a nude beach.
Characteristics of Naturists:
|Ecological or environmental||Respect for the natural world.|
|Health||Enjoying the benefits of the sun and fresh air.|
|Diet||Many people moderate or avoid alcohol, meat, and tobacco intake.|
|Psychologically||Respect and accept all races of humanity.|
|Spirituality||Embracing your nudity and being close to nature.|
|Pedagogy||Respect children as equals.|
|Equality||If you take off your clothes you limit social barriers.|
|Liberty||Everyone has the right to not wear clothes.|
Is a naturist and a nudist the same?
Some would argue that a naturist and a nudist are the same. Some even use the two terms interchangeably. However, the intent behind both these words is completely different and therefore they cannot be considered to be the same thing.
Nudists are people who enjoy being nude as part of their lifestyle, whether it’s to accept their body more or for the fun of it. Naturists believe that being nude is much more, that is a way in being part of the environment.
And while nudists also believe that being naked would be a way of being part of the environment, they’re not as dedicated to it as naturists. On top of being naked, naturists apply specific diets and certain routines to amplify the spiritual connection between them and nature.
In short, the term “nudists” can be used to describe people who are fun, but less involved in the spiritual and medical aspects of the practice. It can also have negative connotations.
However, despite which one you choose to believe in, there will be people who will be against your nakedness. Usually for the following reasons:
- Religious reasons
- It’s unhygienic
- Unsafe for children
Due to those reasons, being nude in public spaces is mostly illegal. So if you’re planning on participating in this lifestyle, make sure you do it in a place where you’re allowed to.
Why do people like to be a naturist?
Aside from personal beliefs, people take part in naturism due to the claims that it may improve self-esteem and mental health. Some people also believe that is a way of connecting with nature.
A study shows that taking part in the ways of naturists actually has improvements when it came to personal satisfaction, along with higher self-esteem. This is an important finding as people nowadays often find themselves unsatisfied with their own bodies.
But according to the study, participating in naturist activities has its positive effects, especially when it came to body image.
Naturists believe that being naked is the natural state of humans. They also believe that living a “naked” life would result in a better spiritual connection with nature. While there’s no scientific study that can back up the claim that nakedness would connect you better with nature, there’s no study disproving it either.
It all comes down to personal beliefs, and personally, I think that if an activity harms no one, then it isn’t really bad. Of course, the discomfort of the general public is another thing to consider and I don’t believe in shoving ideals down anyone’s throat to be a good thing.
So the best thing to do, if you believe in naturism and nudism, is to participate with a group of people who share the same ideas as you in a safe place where you’re allowed to.
Naturism isn’t intended to be sexual, but people who know nothing about naturism would think otherwise, therefore the safest option is to practice your belief in private.
The difference between a nudist and a naturist isn’t much. In fact, they’re often confused to be the same thing. However, despite being almost the same, they do have their differences.
A nudist believes in the idea that being naked is “freedom” and a way to be one with the environment. They apply nudity to their lifestyle, but they don’t follow certain rules, unlike that of a naturist.
A naturist believes in a similar idea, where being nude brings you closer to your environment and spiritually sets you free. However, with a naturist, you have to follow certain actions to accompany the act of being nude. Nudism is more of a lifestyle, whereas naturism is a philosophy.
Either way, they both believe that nakedness can have a positive effect on your life, despite the negative criticisms both ideas receive.
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Click here to learn more about nudism and naturism in a summarized version.