AANR mission statement:
Our Mission: Simply put, we exist “To advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment.”
TNS mission statement:
The mission of The Naturist Society is to promote body, acceptance through clothing-optional recreation using the tools of education and community outreach.
“Body acceptance is the idea…Nude recreation is the way.” – TNS founder Lee Baxandall
Nude recreation and social nudism haven’t been central to my practice of naturism in quite a while. In the last decade those aspects have substantially decreased in importance to me and I’ve found that my own ideas about naturism and clothes-free living have aligned less and less with the nudist paradigm of the national nudist organizations, AANR and TNS.
Both AANR and TNS emphasize nude (clothing-optional) recreation in their mission statements. This seems to imply that engaging in recreational activities is a primary reason for being nude. Personally, I would like see a change in the direction of our national nudist organizations and their member clubs to promoting nudism and naturism as healthy lifestyles as opposed to being merely a recreational activity.
Many of my basic ideas and philosophies concerning naturism stem from the nudist and naturist movements in Europe in the early 20th century, especially the Freikörperkultur (FKK) in Germany though I’ve been somewhat influenced by some of the French naturist movements as well. I appreciated their emphasis on fitness and health although I don’t necessarily advocate group calisthenics and the like. I’m more of a proponent of individual discipline. Stéphane Deschênes, owner of the Bare Oaks Naturist Park in Canada, has also been an influence.
I envision a clothes-free lifestyle as one the promotes health and fitness, not to achieve some abstract aesthetic standard, but to enhance one’s health and physical abilities, and to benefit one’s own well-being. I regard body acceptance as a starting point rather than an end in itself. We have to accept things as they are before we can work to change them through our own efforts.
In my naturist vision, full nudity, though not absolutely essential, should be encouraged whenever possible. I consider being nude and incorporating nudity into our daily activities as much as possible to be extremely beneficial to one’s physical, psychological, and spiritual health. It starts with accepting our bodies and being comfortable in our own skin, then moving forward,
AANR’s mission statement talks about advocating “nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings”. Who determines which settings are appropriate and how do they make this determination? Settings I deem appropriate for nudity are often quite different from what society and the law deem appropriate. Why shouldn’t I be able to tend my garden or sunbathe in my backyard in the nude? Or wash my car, check my mail, relax on my deck, or take my garbage can to the curb? Who is harmed? Whose rights are being infringed?
I believe that casual nudity should be decriminalized and that there should be no criminal, legal, or civil sanctions for simply being unclothed in view of the public. I won’t argue about whether being nude is or isn’t a right but why should an activity that harms no one, infringes no one’s rights or property, and is generally beneficial to one’s overall health, be illegal?
I take issue with the secrecy that surrounds American nudism. Trying to make nude recreation and clothes-free living more acceptable and mainstream while keeping it secret from friends, family, and coworkers seems counterintuitive.
I lived and worked for 20 years in a “culture of secrecy” which bled into and negatively influenced my personal life. The resulting lack of transparency in personal matters has caused me a lot of grief over the years. I’ve worked to overcome its influence and I endeavor to be as open and transparent as possible.
I think it’s time we made peace with the camera. They are everywhere and nearly everyone has one built into their mobile phone. For better or for worse, we live in a society where virtually everything we do is subject to being photographed, recorded, and otherwise documented and potentially released into public media. By embracing our technology we have given up our expectations of privacy and once it gets on the Internet, there’s no getting it back or controlling what happens to it. This makes living with openness and transparency all the more important. It also becomes more important to be able to positively defend your lifestyle choices.