Naturist or Nudist?

18 Jan 2017 - by Graham

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.


Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: Blog  Naturist  Nudist  Labels  Terminology  


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