Learning About Body Confidence Living in a Nudist Community
This last summer, this crazy COVID summer of 2020, I lived with my parents in a nudist community deep in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. I learned about body positivity and freedom in a way I hadn?t expected.
My Parents are Nudists
My parents came out to me as nudists seven years ago. My siblings and I knew something was up as they seemed to have a lot of new friends and always had plans on the weekends. My stepbrother mistakenly thought they were swingers, but we later found out they were nudists. My aging parents had found a community of like-minded folks and spent a lot of time at the resort. They were happy, and it had nothing to do with us kids or grandkids. I was a little confused but happy for them.
Since then, they have built a house in the nudist community, and I have visited several times. This year due to moving back to the states and COVID, I found myself living on their property in the nudist community. My daughters and I lived in their fifth-wheel camping trailer beside their house for the better part of the summer.
My parents are nudists, but they are not nudists around my kids or me. (It?s my dad, gross). My teen was unfazed by our new neighborhood. She is half Italian and has visited nude beaches and spas with her Italian family during European vacations. And my three-year-old spends much of her day half-dressed regardless of where we live; like most toddlers, she loves to be naked and wild.
We didn?t go to the resort much, but bare bum activity isn?t confined to the resort. We often saw neighbors mowing lawns, riding bikes, going for walks, and one time using a chainsaw in their birthday suits.
I can?t stress enough how nonsexual the community is. It is a respectful set up in a beautiful part of the country with deep rich pink sunsets and spotted deer tiptoeing around pine forests. It was a great place to quarantine during COVID summer as we readjusted to life in the US.
The nudist community is made up of about twenty houses spread out on a beautiful patch of fertile land. Each house has a few acres with some common wildlife areas that belong to the community.
It is a gated community, and inside the gate, past all the houses at the end of the road, there is a family-run nudist resort. This popular nudist resort looks like any other campground. There is a lodge, RV spots, pools (one indoor one outdoor), campsites, and many hiking trails to explore. The only thing that sets it apart is that people are walking around au natural.
The resort is a popular place in the summer and often full. There are outdoor concerts, festivals, and fun runs. But, this COVID summer, it was quieter than usual.
The Neighbors and Community
I met many of their neighbors over the summer who are, of course, nudists and got to know a few of them. They shared stories of how the community has grown and changed. Out here, everyone knows each other and gets along. They celebrate milestones and have a potluck for every occasion. They tell me stories about wild Christmas parties past and Halloween hijinx. And everyone has a story about almost getting arrested for nudity. The neighbors are funny and warm, with broad smiles and bare bums. I wanted to learn more.
I was curious about why people choose this lifestyle, so I invited a few members over for a socially distanced summer happy hour. About six of them came, all couples. They let me ask them questions and told their stories. I promised no pictures or names, just their stories.
Freedom, Acceptance, and Confidence
I was surprised to learn that nudism has zero to do with sexuality, and instead, I learned it is about freedom, acceptance, and confidence.
The community members come from a variety of backgrounds, from engineers to nurses to Navy pilots. They were open to my questions and told me their stories of how they got involved in the community. Their stories are similar, married couples who were looking for something but not sure exactly what.
The three wives I talked to all said the same thing. They were not interested but decided to be open-minded. In one case, her husband took her on a surprise weekend trip, and she didn?t know it was to a nudist resort until they got there. She was angry but decided to do the quick tour anyway, she didn?t want to be rude, and by the time the tour finished, she stripped down and never looked back.
Another woman said she wishes she had known the freedom and acceptance of a nudist community earlier. She and her husband joined the community in their late thirties. The third couple came from a hippy background and already embraced nudity as a lifestyle. This couple started a local chapter of the nudist group in the mid-90s and quietly engineered this new housing association.
Conflict of Lifestyle
All the couples who live here are now retired, but they struggled to keep their lifestyle secret when they were still working. One man, a neonatal nurse, was outed by a nasty coworker, and instead of letting it get him down, he opened up a dialogue and gave out pamphlets to his coworkers. He kept his head high despite snickers. He said many of his colleagues came up to him later in private, with questions and curiosities about the lifestyle.
A common theme that everyone talked about is acceptance of this lifestyle. I heard over and over again that feeling accepted is a huge draw. It doesn?t matter who you are. There are no pretenses or socio-economic hierarchies when you are socializing in the buff.
The grown children of the community members have varying levels of acceptance. Some are, like me, and open to it and happy to see their parents living their best life in a thriving community, but many barely tolerate it, only visiting for special occasions with strict rules about when grandkids can visit. One son of a member is a born-again Christian and refuses to set foot inside the gate due to the community?s ?devilish ways?.
We talked about common misconceptions. The most prevalent one is the idea that nudists are overly sexed predators. ?We are not swingers or sexual predators,? said a retired Navy pilot, who looks like Hemingway?s taller older brother. So much so that his wife tells me that tourists often stop them and ask for photos when they are wintering in Florida.
He explains that nudism is not connected to sexual perversion; it?s about freedom and acceptance. Granted, it?s a common misconception because there are nudist resorts that cater to different sexual appetites. These adult-only resorts are much different from the family-friendly ones like this community which is a part of the American Association for Nude Recreation or the AANR.
This resort and community, like many others throughout the U.S., is focused on a family-friendly atmosphere. There are specific, strictly enforced rules when entering. These rules are designed to keep the community safe and keep predators and, as one woman says, ?looky Lou?s? out.
One question that comes up repeatedly (pun intended) is what to do if a man gets aroused? It?s a pretty simple answer; everyone has their own towel that they always have to cover up if needed. The personal towel policy also functions as a way to keep shared spaces clean and sanitary.
Growing the Community
Many in the small community out here would love it to grow and see new members, but it has been slow lately. COVID and social distancing have taken a bit of a toll, but the members are optimistic.
Hemingway?s older brother tells me that most friends he has spoken to about it are interested but say they can?t until they lose some weight. He finds this attitude frustrating because it?s not about body shapes and size; it?s about freedom and being together. He encourages people of all shapes and sizes to visit a nudist community. Another neighbor chimed in; there is no judgment. It is about being your authentic self. Everyone is welcome here.
The group shares stories about other friends and members who have had double mastectomies or have physical disabilities. Their friends have shared that this community is the first time they have felt normal.
We had a good conversation, and I learned more about why people choose to live their lives au natural. And, I mean, I get it. I?m a bit of a nudist myself, but in my own home, not socializing with strangers, but I get it. There is no judgment from me.
Be kind, don?t hurt others, and if you want to weed your garden in your gardening gloves and nothing else, do it. If you want to ride your bike around the neighborhood with a bike helmet and nothing else, fine. If you want to start a chainsaw in work boots and nothing else, well, have fun, and I?ll call the ambulance when you need it.
We all want to feel free. Some of us feel the seduction of freedom while speeding down the freeway on a motorcycle, others by dancing on tables tops. But for some, all it takes is to remove every stitch and be who they are; that?s true freedom and genuine honesty. I can get behind that.