I firmly believe that if you want to experience euphoria sans drugs, all you have to do is take off your bra after a long workday. And post-shower, you can often find me wrestling my freshly-lotioned legs into a pair of jeans , muttering questions like, "Why can't I just live my life naked? And some people do. Nudists and naturists participate in plenty of normal activities like swimming, camping, and karaoke without clothes. The degrees of nudity vary—some people are naked pretty much all the time, while others reserve it for social events every so often.
But to hear them tell it, life is much better in the nude. While you may have heard of nudists, chances are you're a little less familiar with naturists. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, some people believe certain nuances classify them as two different bodies. But when they can, they do, and they enjoy the hell out of it. Sometimes it's easiest to define naturism by describing what it's not.
Stateside nudism and naturism have their roots in the American Association for Nude Recreation , which was founded in With an spotlight on "wholesome nude family recreation," the organization's mission is "to advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment," according to their website.
Similar institutions cropped up after, like The Naturist Society , which was founded in If you're like, wait, record scratch, people are advocating me getting naked with my family? But as someone who grew up in a home where bodies weren't a thing to be hidden—we weren't naturists by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn't taught to fear or shame nudity—I can see why this is worthwhile.
So can Felicity, who grew up with a nudity-embracing family in New Jersey and laughingly calls herself a "third-generation naturist. In addition to raising awareness about naturism, they put on events like the nude, public Bodypainting Day this coming July 9 in New York and Amsterdam, which they're currently raising funds for on Kickstarter.
Misconceptions about the naturist lifestyle can have far-reaching implications. And while running YNA is her full-time job, her partner and co-founder works in sales. Even though naturism's intentions are innocent, it can be hard for people to see it that way. So, no, naturism isn't a cover for massive, wild orgies. Felicity and her co-founder started it in the hopes of filling a void in modern nudity-focused communities. Naturism fits beautifully into a society that's increasingly open to the idea that "perfection" doesn't exist.
Growing up as a black girl, she loathed the color of her skin and the texture of her hair. Nudity has changed my life. Like basically everything else in the 21st century, she's using the Internet to do it. She stumbled upon the idea when she answered a friend's Skype call while in the nude. Then, they got to talking about where this deeply ingrained negative reaction to nudity comes from. So, Naked Skype was born," Serenity explains. No labels, no facade, no judgments, just openness and embracing your true self.
That emphasis on healthy self-image is a cornerstone of YNA's philosophy. That's largely because Felicity realized how beneficial nudity had been to her growing up when she and her family attended the Rock Lodge Nudist Club in northern New Jersey. This is especially important for women.
Growing up as a naturist, she was able to appreciate how broad the private-part spectrum is. That alleviates a lot of body shame and anxiety," she says. Given that American teenagers are more frequently asking for their labia to be trimmed , this message is more crucial than ever.
Especially because in general, women's labia are perfect just the way they are. Another essential part of naturism is bonding with the environment. Although naturism celebrates acceptance, it's not as diverse as some would like. Serenity has called the dearth of varied racial representation in the naturist community "daunting at times. Instead of letting that feeling edge her out of the lifestyle, she's working to make it more inclusive.
As a trans woman , Sheila is also navigating what it's like to be a minority in the naturist community. She's on hormone replacement therapy and is hoping to get gender affirming surgery, but since insurance often considers it optional, for now it's too expensive. Although she says "mostly everyone" has been accepting, she has still encountered some prejudice. I have run into a few transphobic people on and offline," she says. To fuel their ideas, they call upon misguided notions, like that trans individuals are hypersexual.
Some people have also been resistant to Sheila's trans status, as they believe her true gender is based on her genitals. Luckily, Sheila's made good friends who stick up for her whether she's around or not. And the prejudice isn't common enough to run her off—if anything, she's more likely to get confused reactions that fade into acceptance. Even before talking to these women, I considered myself extremely accepting of nudity. But after digging deeper and discovering the lifestyle's confidence-related benefits, I see that nudity can solve so much more than the fact that pants can feel like leg prisons.
I have to admit that when Felicity invited me to participate in the upcoming Bodypainting Day event, the opportunity sparked some temptation. But in the end, I had to say no. Even though my self-esteem is quite solid, I'm not brave enough to show the world everything I've got. Although I'll be keeping the rest of my clothes on, my hat's off to anyone who is. Let's clear one thing up: Naturism's not about sex. She has spent her career as a reporter and editor covering women's lives with a focus on wellness.
Zahra specializes in sexual, reproductive, and mental health, all with the goal of destigmatizing Read more. SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional. Topics body image pop culture nudity.