This blog contains all the articles that wouldn't fit in anywhere else. You can expect it to be fairly random!
Wow... was it really August the last time I posted on here? This year has definitely been a busy one, but I didn't think that I'd abandoned this website for that long. Sorry, folks. On the plus side, I have collected together a lot of stuff over the last couple of months that will fit on here nicely, from kilts to kinks and beaches to barbecues, so I'll start posting all that very soon.
In the meantime, if there are any stories you'd like to share on here then please email me either using our Contact NINR form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org directly. Please have a look at our Submission Guidelines, especially if you are sending in any photographs.
Where did you get naked during the summer? Was it your first time? Did you introduce someone to social nudity for their first time? Have you tried anything new or found that something was a lot more fun than you expected? We're interested in everything, so drop us a line and tell us your tales.
You probably know by now that I teach dance, specifically I teach modern jive and Argentine tango. I also tend to get naked quite a lot (also no surprise), and so obviously something I've been thinking about recently is whether there's a market for combining the two. Naked partner-dance classes or naked dance themed events seem to me like an excellent way to spend an evening, so I started to put together some ideas and contact people about how, when, and where to host such things. But the responses I've been getting have surprised me.
Individuals I have spoken to about this seem to be largely in favour of it. Some dance already and some like the idea of learning to dance. Some have partners that they would like to bring along with them, and some would like to come on their own. In fact the response of generally naked people to the idea of naked dancing has been exactly what I expected, and mirrors the response I get in the clothed world to my traditional classes.
But what really surprised me has been the responses given by naturist and nudist clubs.
Almost universally they dismissed the idea of partner-dancing events as unworkable because "people don't generally arrive as couples", or because "everyone is naked" (uh... really?), or because "no-one wants to get that close to another naked person they don't really know". They gave all sorts of excuses and reasons, but what they all boiled down to is "Dancing with another naked person? That's not something we do."
Okay, so partner-dancing is something that gets you pretty close to the person you are dancing with and there is no doubt that you have to be fairly relaxed about the concept of personal space. But that's true whenever you dance, not just when dancing naked. Depending on the type of dance you are doing you can be anywhere from holding both hands face-to-face or in full-body-contact with your partner, and given that a lot of dancers eschew underwear for aesthetic or comfort reasons there can be very little physically separating you at times. But you both know that this is an illusion of closeness that only lasts for the three and a half minutes of a track, and as soon as it's over you break apart. The dance itself can be sexy, but that's not the same as sexual. It's a game. A suspension of reality. A moment to let go and have a bit of fun.
So why not do it naked? If naked is normal, what's wrong with dance?
Saying that it's a problem because of the nudity is the sort of attitude I'd expect from people who see nudity as sexual and something that should be kept between partners. But from people who spend their whole lives preaching that nudity is just another outfit and that there is nothing sexual about it at all, what's wrong with dancing? Why is dancing any different to anything else that people do naked together? No, this doesn't make sense. This is saying that there are artificial limits on how close you can get when naked, on what you can do before you cross some sort of line. This is saying that nudity is fine so long as you keep your distance.
So what does this mean about the message that the clubs are promoting? Is the whole idea that "nude is normal" just a sham?
Clubs in general have come under fire a lot in recent years, as much for keeping nudity locked up behind closed doors as they do for their existence. The general public see them as funny and anachronistic, and yet they do nothing to change that opinion as they appear to cater only for the older established membership without doing anything to draw in new blood. More and more people are getting naked on holiday and at home now, and yet club membership is largely static. The fenced-in nature of clubs and all their arbitrary (if originally well-meaning) rules promotes the idea that nudity is strange, that it needs to be hidden away in case anyone sees it. But surely this is the exact opposite of the message we are trying to get across.
Clubs need to embrace the new, and if that means trying something that might make the established membership a little uncomfortable then so be it. For all they know, a naked partner-dancing evening might be just what all the potential new members might be waiting for.
Photo: This was taken from a video of naked Argentine tango and we are probably about as close as it's possible to get on a dance floor. But other forms of dancing are available, and some are a simple hand to hand hold with no body contact at all.
I live at the bottom of a valley, with houses built all around me at different levels. My back garden slopes up from the rear of the house so the end of the garden is higher than the top of the roof, and this combination of angles means that there is nowhere outside that isn't overlooked, even right next to the house. This isn't a problem for most of the time as the neighbours are fairly non-intrusive and don't do that "peering over the fence" thing that some seem to do, but it does mean that if I want to sit outside in a state of reduced clothing for a while, there hasn't been anywhere for me to do that. Until now.
Because of the steep slope, I had to build a landing outside my shed / office so I can get into it safely, and that is just large enough for a chair and a small table. With the addition of a bit of screening on the top of the steps there is now a small area where the only bits that can be seen if I'm sitting down are all above the waist.
Finally, I can spend a few minutes nude in the garden without panicking the neighbours.
Social nudity and the general cultural acceptance of nakedness has a lot of hurdles to overcome before it will be a part of normal everyday life. The tendency of religion to use shame as a method of control, advertising companies sexualising everything for profit, the media's desire for sensationalism and their inability to print the word NAKED in anything other than all capitals all play a part in this, and there are ways we can help to influence them in the future. But the biggest problem we have with our nudity not being accepted into everyday culture is one of our own making.
We have described ourselves in terms of an -ism.
Naturism and nudism are divisive terms. We use them to say "I am not like you", and then ask people to accept us as part of their routine. We pigeonhole ourselves into what many people see as a cult, lock ourselves away behind fences and on secluded beaches, then when we do finally get around to telling someone we say "I'm a naturist and it's perfectly normal."
Yeah, right. So if it's that 'normal', why do we need an -ist or an -ism to describe ourselves? And why do some of us call ourselves 'naturist' and some 'nudist'? We keep telling people that the words mean the same thing, but then we insist that we are one or the other, and anyway the general public sees them as very different in nature.
For nudity to be generally accepted we need to talk about it - and talk about ourselves - in a new way. We need to distance ourselves from the perception that we are a 'club' or somehow 'different'. Nude is normal, and the people who sexualise it or are afraid of it are the ones that need an -ist word to describe them. We don't need a label because we aren't the ones with a problem. If they want to call us 'nudists' then fine but we should be avoiding labels amongst ourselves wherever possible and not making it easy for everyone else to pigeonhole us.
Anyone who works in a reasonably sized company and has ever read their employer's HR handbook will know that it probably contains somewhere a sentence like "employees will dress appropriately at all times". But what is 'appropriate'? For me, it means fitting in with those around you and your location, and if that means going naked then that's just fine.
A few years ago I had the surreal experience of being in a naked project planning meeting. We needed to get together to work out some scheduling issues on a film project I was a part of, and we were looking for somewhere to meet. Claire was organising it, and she was bringing someone else from her side (whose name I can't remember), and when I asked where she wanted us to get together, she said "It's going to be a nice day tomorrow, so why not at that beach you told me about?"
The only beach I'd mentioned to her was Shellness on Sheppey, so double-checking that she hadn't got that wrong and that she knew it was a nude beach, I said that worked fine for me and we picked a time. When I got there, Claire and her colleague were already on the beach and nude, so we said "Hi", I stripped off and got out my notes, and we had the meeting. Looking back on it the whole experience was quite surreal, and I do wonder if any of the other beach users wondered what was going on, but actually it made perfect sense. None of us were office-bound; we were all used to working in coffee shops, parks, and occasional beaches on our own, so why not together? And the naked thing made sense because of the weather.
So there's your challenge. This year, arrange a naked business meeting and tell us how it went.
I recently saw an online poll taken by one of the major tabloid newspapers in the UK, that was looking at attitudes to naked selfies and nude photography in general. This could have been an interesting window into the general views on nudity, but once again the questions were clearly slanted in one particular direction. The question and the possible answers were...
- Yes, I often send them to my partner
- Yes, but I regretted it
- No, I have never
You see the problem? Where's the option for "Yes, I send them to my partner and s/he shows them to all her/his mates. It's great fun!", or "Yes, I post them online all the time"? Why are they mixing the whole yes/no question in with how you feel about what happened? This is not a straightforward yes/no question even if you give two options for Yes.
So we thought we would do our own version. The link below takes you to a short survey hosted on Google Forms that should take about a minute to complete. We'll post the results here as they come in, so please help us out and tell us about your attitude to nude selfies.
Not everyone can find somewhere local to go walking naked, and a trip to Germany or some other nude-friendly forest location is out of reach for most people. But if you want to find out what it's like, then for me the next best thing is go go for a walk in a kilt without underwear. It feels right when walking; when you sit down it's you that's in contact with what you're sitting on, not your clothes; and you get no complaints from other users of the paths! If you're not used to skirts or kilts then you may want someone with you to tell you how exposed you are when climbing over stiles or up stairs, and you have a conscious decision to make as to whether or not to worry about up-draughts (ask any woman who wears skirts regularly how she deals with these issues if you want, as there's nothing unique to the kilt), but other than that a kilt is pretty much the perfect solution.
They're also cheap, machine washable (if you get an acrylic one), and available in a huge range of styles. The one I got was from The Kilt Clan (link here) but there are any number of other companies that do similar ones.
Get yourself a kilt. You won't regret it.
I like nudity in all its aspects. I like getting naked with other people. I like getting naked on my own. I never remember to close doors or curtains until it's way too late, and I've taken and featured in any number of photographs where I have been nude on one side of the lens or the other. I like looking at fine-art nudes with incredible attention to detail, and I like looking at mobile phone selfies that people have snapped in the bath or in changing rooms. I like watching sex (if it's interesting), and I like all sorts of things that people consider to be "fetish" like pee-play, bondage, and exhibitionism. So with all this nakedness around me, where do I draw the line between nudity and porn? Or is there actually a line at all?
I like looking at pictures of naked people. I don't care whether they are walking the dog, posing on their sofa, lying in a field, or having sex, if the image is interesting then I enjoy looking at it. That last part is critical, by the way. For me to enjoy an image or a film it has to be interesting. Two people humping for twenty minutes isn't interesting. Anyway, for some people, this broad approach to nude acceptance is enough to make me "not a real naturist" (which is why I never use labels), whereas for others it is proof that naturists and nudists were in it for the sex all along. My love of images that some consider pornographic or explicit has got me barred from certain "naturist" groups over the years, and yet at the same time this website and my Tumblr feed get followed by people looking for hardcore porn all the time. They, it has to be said, will be disappointed.
The image on the top of this post got me blocked from a naturist forum a while back because it clearly "wasn't naturist". When I pressed for reasons, all I got was "Well, look at it..." but no actual information, and then a few days later I found I was blocked because I left the photo on my profile. Fair enough... it was a free forum and in places like that the hosts set the rules, but it did get me thinking. What makes an image "naturist"? When does it become "explicit"?
This photo was taken in Mimi's house towards the end of a shoot when we were just chatting. We had been looking at some of my other photos, including several of me modelling nude, and so by the time we got to that part of the day we were pretty relaxed. She was on the sofa... I was on the floor sorting out lenses... and occasionally I'd snap a shot of her as we talked. This was one of those, a casual photo in a chilled situation that was about as erotic as making the tea. I love the photo - I had a B&W print of it on my wall for ages - but I have never seen it as even slightly sexual.
But some people do. And therein lies the problem. In some cultures showing too much leg is considered pornographic, whereas elsewhere it's only mildly surprising when contestants dance naked on the local version of Strictly Come Dancing. Art that has been around for millennia is being reclassified as "adult", and yet every other teenager with a phone is publishing nudes online without a thought. With a baseline as wide as that how can we possibly make an absolute judgement on what is porn and what is simple nudity?
We can't. All we can do is enjoy what we like and if someone posts something that crosses our personal line just look away.
Spring is finally here, and at last it's warm enough to leave the heating off and get up and without having to bother about getting dressed. I can get my coffee, make breakfast, and have a think about what I'm going to wear for the day whilst I watch the world hurry past the window for a while. There's the neighbour who stands in her back garden for a cigarette, just wearing a fluffy white dressing gown that's not always as tightly done up as you might expect. There's the guy who sometimes wears jeans and a T-shirt, and sometimes a dress and high heels. The other neighbours whose front window is almost floor-to-ceiling, and you regularly see them in their underwear as they like to keep the curtains open. There's the girl with the very long legs and very short skirts who rarely seems to bother with underwear and yet manages to bend over a lot as she's getting into her car. And there are any number of runners, walkers, and cyclists whose lycra is so revealing it's little more than a coat of paint.
But this is fairly routine compared to a town I lived in a few years ago. If the weather was warm, my neighbour would come home from work, strip down to her underwear, and go and stand in the garden with a cup of tea or a glass of wine to unwind. Another neighbour whose back garden I could see from my house used to have friends round every Friday, and in the summer they would frequently all end up naked sitting on her decking as they watched the stars. It was common to see people getting changed in front of open windows, and you would occasionally spot someone putting the bins out or getting something from their car in whatever they were - or weren't - wearing at the time.
These were both suburban semi-rural towns, and I can guarantee that if you asked these people if they considered themselves "nudists" or "naturists" the answer would be a definite "NO!". But what it does show is that public acceptance of casual nudity is a lot higher than we are often led to believe. If nudity just happens then no-one cares. It's only when someone asks them about it that they remember they are supposed to disapprove and get all 'offended'.
It is the age-old discussion... are you a naturist or a nudist? Do they mean the same thing? Why does it matter anyway what you call yourself so long as you are not trying to offend anyone, because everyone knows what you mean?
Or do they?
A number of years ago, an earlier version of nudeisnotrude.com ran a short survey to find out how people who considered themselves neither nudist nor naturist perceived the terms, and whether they immediately formed any different preconceptions about the person depending on which of the terms was used. We were expecting to find that the term itself, whether 'naturist' or 'nudist' did not matter as both would be considered equally unusual and perhaps a little weird, but the results that came through were somewhat surprising. It showed quite clearly that people who identified as neither saw nudists and naturists as quite different things, but that they largely agreed on what those things were.
Naturists, we found, were perceived as being more in tune with the environment, were likely to spend a lot of time sunbathinng and swimming with the occasionall game of frisbee or other beach activities, but that was generally believed to be the extent of their nude activities. Naturists were seen as the sort of people who would go for a walk in the countryside and strip off to go for a swim in a stream, but after lying around on the bank to dry off they would almost certainly get dressed again to continue walking. A naturist may be nude around the home, but probably only when between activities that already involve nudity, such as sleeping and having a shower. They probably would not watch the television in the nude. Naturists were also thought to be more spiritual, with their liking of nudity coming from their connection to the environment.
Nudists, on the other hand, were seen as far more militant or proselytising. Someone who said they were a nudist would usually be naked around the house and would only very reluctantly get dressed if people came round to visit that were not comfortable in a naked environment. A nudist is someone who goes on long-distance naked hikes through Germany in the summer, and spends their entire social life hanging out with other nudists or trying to persuade people to become nudists. They spend a lot of time in clubs that forbid clothing anywhere on the premises, and are likely to have a sign on their front door at home that says something like "If you are offended by nudity then you are at the wrong house".
So the non-nude perception of the two terms can be very different. Naturists have a hippie-vibe, whereas nudists are politically militant. Naturists are a bit live-and-let-live, but nudists want to convert everyone.
But why does this matter? Why do we care what people think the words mean, so long as we know what we mean?
This world relies on labels. Almost the first thing anyone says to you when you meet them for the first time is "What do you do?" so before they have got to know you at all, they have already assigned you a label. You are a teacher, a plumber, a lawyer, an engineer... it does not matter that you may do several different things, because the first thing you tell them is how they will think of you forever.
So if the perceived meaning of naturist or nudist fits the way you want to be seeen then by all means continue to use them. But if not then you might want to consider a different way of introducing yourself.