Author Archives: TBarthel

Naturism and The Pursuit of Happiness

Whether it is in a Finnish sauna or a Japanese onsen or a European naturist spa or an American backyard hot tub, people find comfort, relaxation and joy in non-sexual, socially nude recreation.  Visitors to family friendly AANR resorts report a convivial atmosphere and the genuinely happy condition of Naturists being clothes-free. Several research papers have been published characterizing the positive effects of social nudism on self-esteem, body image and mental well-being. 1   Collectively, the evidence is strong that social nudism has a positive effect on a person’s sense of happiness.  Why and how recreating in the buff with others can make people happy is what we would like to explore with this post. 

Philosophers, theologians and social scientists have studied and debated happiness for millennia.  Many causes and factors have been identified, but a conclusive understanding of this emotional state remains elusive.  One knows it when they have it, and it usually involves a mix of things that uniquely come together for each individual (relationships, economic security, personal achievement, and so on).  Naturism does not appear on the usual lists of factors, but perhaps it should.

The late neuroscientist and philosopher, Walter Freeman, advanced the scientific study of happiness and illuminated insights on certain factors that facilitate it.  These factors, it turns out, are inherent to social nudism.  Freeman’s paper, titled “Happiness doesn’t come in bottles. Neuroscientists learn that joy comes through dancing, not drugs.” presents his ideas in an everyday readable format.  A link to it is provided below. 2  Please read it.

Freeman’s paper is not about Naturism.  It is not even about dancing specifically.  According to Freeman, happiness is not simply a chemical reaction in the brain but a state of mind and consciousness attained by overlapping one’s unique personal life experience with others.   It involves a combination of two elements: Communion and Trust. Communion is established when people share activities and experiences that cause them to have thoughts or feelings in common.  Trust emerges when cooperative activity is intensive enough for one to gain confidence in their communal partners’ predictable actions and behavior.  Bonding experiences such as dancing, team sports, parenting, combat, road trips, etc. are the types of things that fit this model.

Naturism is fundamentally a Trust-Instilling Communion.  To remove the socially protective layer of one’s clothing and reveal one’s authentic and vulnerable self to others and then to experience the mutually accepting, respectful and reciprocal behavior of those others establishes a common bond and trust.   The shared experience of easy-going moral conduct, decency and basic humanity generates a sense of comfort, confidence and relaxation amongst the communal.  It converts nakedness (which can feel vulnerable) into nudity (which can feel safe).  To those who have not experienced it, this can be hard to believe.  Yet, this is the culture and atmosphere that exists in Ethical Naturist settings.

The common bond of social nudism also enables what social scientists call a bridging network.  People with varied economic backgrounds, ethnicities, political persuasions and other diversities obtain a way to see past their differences and become able to engage in cooperative behavior and get along.  Bridging differences enough to become and feel part of a community helps happiness.

It is important to note that the converse of this is also true.  Creepiness, predatory behavior, voyeurism, exhibitionism, overt sexual activity and other unsuitable actions can erase trust and break communion.  Trust is the essential ingredient that must be present and free of doubt.  This is why Naturists can be so adamant about etiquette and enforcing proper conduct.

While Freeman focuses on communion amongst people, Naturists also find value in communion with Nature.  Connecting to and harmonizing with the natural world reminds us that we are a part of all living creation and not separate from it.  Internalizing this and sensing that we are in relationship with the earth comforts the spirit and provides a respite from the artificiality of urban/suburban and technological life.  Feeling more in harmony with Nature is helpful to happiness.

The pursuit of happiness is a struggle for many people today, especially the young.  Despite general material well-being, there is a complex array of rapidly changing technological, cultural and social conditions that are isolating, disorienting and confusing, if not dangerous.  Loneliness is a major issue as many people lack authentic, stable, quality friendships, family relations and community engagements.   Their sense of self and belonging is not well anchored. 3  

It is a constant theme of ours that Ethical Naturism can promote a healthy mind in a healthy body with a bright spirit.  We all want to be happy.  The pursuit of happiness is held to be an unalienable right.  While Naturism alone is not sufficient to sustain happiness, its ability to establish Trust-Instilling Communion with others offers a potent building block for a happy life.  Engaging in socially-oriented Naturist activities or finding a Naturist community that accepts you as you are can have a very positive impact on your life.







Aetas Aurea – The Golden Age

In his epic work Metamorphoses, the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD) describes the first age of humanity as a Golden Age (Aetas Aurea).  It was golden because, in this time, people lived as innocents in a state of harmony with each other and with Nature.  Artists of the Renaissance were so inspired by this vision that they captured it in a series of beautiful engravings, some of which are presented below along with a translation from Ovid’s poem.

by Johann Wilhelm Baur (1703)

Metamorphoses, BOOK I, verses 89-112

First emerged the golden age in which faith and virtue spontaneously flourished of their own accord without authorities or laws.

Punishment and fear were absent, as were threatening words fixed in bronze, nor did people fear the stern face of the judge, but all were safe even in the absence of protection.

Not yet was the pine tree cut from its mountain to descend upon the seas so people could travel to far-away lands, and none knew any but their own shores.

Not yet did deep moats encircle cities; there were no war-trumpets, no coiled horns,
no swords and helmets. Without the use of military force, people passed their lives in sweet peace and security.

The earth herself, untouched by the hoe and unscarred by the plough, also gave freely all things from herself.  People, happy to gather food that grew without work, collected arbutus fruit, mountain strawberries, cornelian cherries, blackberries clinging to the tough brambles, and acorns fallen from Jupiter’s spreading oak-tree.

Spring was eternal, and gentle winds caressed the wildflowers with warm breezes. 

Soon the untilled earth even bore grains, and without needing renewal, the fields whitened with heavy ears of corn.

Rivers of milk and streams of nectar flowed, and golden honey dripped from the green holm oak.

by Antonio Tempesta (1606)

The idea of Aetas Aurea, of a perfect state that once existed but was lost never to be regained, is a powerful one.  It served the polytheistic Romans in the same way the Garden of Eden serves monotheistic Judeo-Christians to this day.  It reveals the cost of human imperfection while instilling a subconscious longing to find a way to its unreachable but desirable potential.   As an archetype deeply embedded in our psyche, it has provided motive force to religious, political and cultural movements through the ages.  The Naturist Movement itself is clearly rooted in Aetas Aurea idealism. One only has to look at the International Naturist Federation’s definition of Naturism, “a way of life in harmony with nature characterized by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment,” to see a direct appeal to live as in the Golden Age. 

by Adriaen Collaert (1561)

These images and Ovid’s poem should resonate with Ethical Naturist readers.  Not only do the scenes of non-sexual nudity in Nature resemble sunny days at a bucolic Naturist venue, but also the description of a convivial, non-judgmental community, where respectful behavior and safety are the norm despite the vulnerability of nakedness, should be familiar.  We do not live in a Golden Age, but a healthy Naturist setting, like an oasis in the desert, is where one can experience something closer to Aetas Aurea than what is typical in everyday life.

by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1530)

We live in an imperfect world, and our modern society and all of us are tainted by flaws, troubles and sins.  It is therefore good to have a model of a more perfect world, and it is healthy to have a tool that enlivens us to its possibilities and guides us toward it in the right direction.   The Golden Age/Garden of Eden is such a model, and Ethical Naturism is such a tool.  By stripping away the raiment of society and communing with others and with Nature as our authentic selves, we conform to this model and directly experience aspects of it in real life.   In turn, we internalize these ideals and move closer to living them generally.  It may be absurd, but one can imagine a more benevolent and harmonious age that could arise if a critical mass of the world embraced Ethical Naturism as a life philosophy.


There are several translations of Ovid’s poem, all of which are similar but different in their word choice and phrasing.  The text presented above borrows principally from the translation of Anthony S. Kline.  A few edits have been made to make it more presentable in modern English to the contemporary reader.


Thong Bikinis – Progress or Prurience?

It has been a long, sweltering summer, and on U.S. beaches, women attired in “thong” bikinis have been a common sight. While still in the minority, this fashion choice has grown over the past few summers and now appears to be an established trend. Naturists inevitably have two minds about this and can only wonder if this is progress or prurience.

For more than 150 years, society has been on a march toward women’s body freedom and body confidence. Bathing attire has undergone a slow process of reducing clothed coverage to increase skin exposure. Along the way, standards for modesty and acceptable body exhibition have relaxed. At each stage, the revelation of more skin has initially been viewed as morally loose and risqué only to become an accepted norm with the passage of time. Naturists and nudists can view this history favorably as it harkens to a day when a healthy and widely acceptable nude body culture can exist. The thong bikini (I wish it had a different name…) shows promise as the next logical step in this process.

Women’s bodies have long been a battleground for social control, both between the sexes and amongst the female gender itself. Women constantly explore fashion to coalesce around shifting norms for beauty and acceptable, proper body presentation, while at the same time, negotiating boundaries of attractive desirability and modesty with men. It is an ongoing cultural dialog that moves society through issues of gender identity as well as equity. Bathing wear, given the inherent absurdity of wearing anything at all to bathe, is a key focal point of this dialog.

There are presently three female body areas (genitals, breasts, and buttocks) that society calls to cover up for modesty’s sake. (There are effectively only two for men.)  Everything else, which is substantially the same for both sexes (arms, noses, etc.), is free for exposure. As behinds are also substantially the same between the two genders, it is not a stretch that exposure of the backside would be explored for possible normalization. Why not? Only time will tell if butt cheeks on the beach achieves broad acceptance and normalcy (and whether men adopt this fashion in some way). If it does, it would be progress toward full body freedom and thus would benefit the Nudist/Naturist Movement.

On the other hand, it is also fair to question the thong as potentially decadent. The adventurous individuals sporting these bikinis today are often doing so to sexualize their bodies and attract attention. The fashion is revealing by design and has the effect of titillating a fair share of onlookers. This sexualized intention and effect is, to put it frankly, prurient (but arguably only mildly so). Given that society’s conflation of nudity with sex is an enormous barrier to widespread adoption of Nudist culture, this prurient element presents a conflict toward Naturist ideals. While revealing more of the body is a step forward, the increased sexualization driving the change is also a step backward.

Consequently, all things considered, Naturists/Nudists can view the thong bikini as both progress and prurience. That females broadly feel safe, comfortable, and enthused to bare more of their bodies is definite progress toward a Naturist culture. That they may be doing so to flash their wares and excite does not align with our values but can serve the cause if the sexual effect diminishes over time. Assuming history repeats, wide adoption of this fashion will dramatically reduce its ability to tantalize. The motivation of thong wearers today may be to get sexy, but ultimately their effort may render this revealed body part commonplace and ordinary. Time will tell. It is also possible that this fashion is nothing more than a decadent fad that fades away, potentially a disappointment for the Naturist cause.

Two other points are worth mentioning. First, men’s swimwear remains unaffected by this trend so far. There was a time in the last century when a minimal swimsuit, referred to as the “speedo,” became popular. If the ladies’ thong bikini becomes permanent, perhaps a time may come when men follow suit, probably at the behest of their lady friends, and start putting some color in their cheeks. Secondly, while the Top Free Movement advances in fits and starts, progress continues, and one can anticipate a day when women and men are equal in baring their chests. At such a point, it is possible that beachwear fashion could become truly equal, unisex, and minimal… thongs for all. This naturally would set the stage for culture to advance to the ultimate destination… normalized nudity. It may never happen, or it may take a generation or two, but today’s Naturists/Nudists can entertain a vision of this future as a real possibility and view the thong as an imperfect step in the right direction.


Leaving 2021 Behind

The image below seems a fitting end to an unusual and challenging year.  We are happy to move on and say goodbye to it.

If one searches the web for “things to do in the nude,” a lot of activities (not to mention ads…) will turn up.  However, undersea scootering is not likely to be among them.  Leave it to a bunch of crazy Naturists to figure out that submarining is best done the buff!  It is not our practice to post pictures, but this one is just too good!  LOL.  We should all open our minds in the New Year and find creative ways to experience our Naturist selves.

Principles and Standards of The American League for Physical Culture

Presented below are the principles and standards of The American League for Physical Culture (ALFPC) as published in 1932.  Founded by nudist pioneer Kurt Barthel, the ALFPC was the first organization of its kind in the United States, and this document is probably the first formalized statement of nudist ethics in the country.  Its core idea, which should come as no surprise, is that nudism is healthy for the mind and body.  We discuss this concept often here, and it is as relevant today as it was then.  The statement also makes a moral comment citing that the body is not an object of shame nor a subject for levity or erotic exploitation.  It views this practice as not just physical, cultural or aesthetic but a union of all three and invites participation by people of good character representing the whole of society.

Our last post also presented a statement of nudist ethics and values, the American Sunbathing Association (ASA) resolution of 1948, passed 16 years after this statement below.  Comparing the two is interesting because the ASA document appears to build upon and evolve from the foundation laid out by the ALFPC.  Both are products of their time, one coming during the Great Depression and the other in the aftermath of WWII.  Both present core nudist values.  But whereas the ALFPC statement comes from a perspective of Health (including moral health), the ASA document grounds itself in Morality.  It states that the ideals of Nudism are not merely concerned with the physical (health) but also the moral, intellectual and political effort to build a brotherhood of man.  It is a document with big ideas that reflect the ambitions of an institution on the right track.  What becomes clear is that the nudist pioneers’ views changed and evolved in the years following the Movement’s founding.  Gaining the experience of nudist life affected them internally in a philosophical way and externally as they weathered the fight for legitimacy in clothed society.

So, we add this piece to our historical understanding of nudist culture and how its ethos developed.  Both the ALFPC and ASA perspectives have their merits, as do today’s more recreational attitudes. 

Be It Further Resolved

The leaders of the early Nudist movement in America were principled individuals.  They viewed the practice of Nudism not only as a healthful recreation but also as an embodiment of certain morals and human values.  To them, it was an exercise in and expression of a convivial and just life philosophy. 

Presented below is a resolution of the American Sunbathing Association (now known as AANR) published in the November 1948 edition of Sunshine & Health.  On one page, it proclaims on behalf of all Nudists, a rejection of discrimination, an opposition to war, an endorsement of the pursuit of physical vigor, a call for friendship and goodwill and support for the arts.  It is not a complete listing of Ethical Naturist values, but it is enough to pack a punch. 

It is marvelous that after more than 70 and several generations, Ethical Naturist principles of today are, with few exceptions, consistent with those of the Nudist Movement’s early founders.  We must be on to something.


Meditations for Ethical Naturists from the Gospel of Thomas

In prior posts, we have expressed a view that Ethical Naturism offers benefits not only to the mind and body but also to the spirit. (  By uncloaking in community with others or in Nature, we can shed the raiment, artifices, and social constructs of everyday life to reveal a truer version of ourselves.  It can effectively be a ritual with symbolic power that, at times, awakens our senses to meaningful truths about life and being.  For the secular, this can be helpful.  For the religious, it can connect to and augment one’s religious beliefs and understanding. 

In this regard, the Christian Gospel of Thomas may be a good example.  It is collection of remarks attributed to Jesus, and among them are a few that include references fitting to the Naturist idea (clothing, the body, self-revelation, self-knowledge).  Notably, Jesus used metaphor and parable to share his truth.  So, his remarks have a provocative quality that forces reflection and meditation.  You are not told the way it is or what to do directly but must engage your own consciousness to discern his message and meaning.  Consequently, the passages below are remarkable because Naturist experience and the Naturist idea can actually help you to better grasp what Jesus was trying to say.  Please read them and consider how Naturism may have instilled in you a measure of understanding that aligns or resonates with their message.


Saying 6: Public Ritual

His disciples said to him, “Do you want us to fast? And how should we pray? Should we make donations? And what food should we avoid?”

Jesus said, “Don’t lie, and don’t do what you hate, because everything is revealed in the sight of heaven; for there’s nothing hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing covered up that will stay secret.”

Saying 37: Seeing Jesus

His disciples said, “When will you appear to us? When will we see you?”

Jesus said, “When you strip naked without being ashamed, and throw your clothes on the ground and stomp on them as little children would, then [you’ll] see the Son of the Living One and won’t be afraid.”

Saying 29: Spirit and Body

Jesus said, “If the flesh came into existence because of spirit, that’s amazing. If spirit came into existence because of the body, that’s really amazing! But I’m amazed at how [such] great wealth has been placed in this poverty.”

Saying 36: Anxiety

Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious from morning to evening or from evening to morning about what you’ll wear.”

Saying 27: Fasting and Sabbath

“If you don’t fast from the world, you won’t find the kingdom. If you don’t make the Sabbath into a Sabbath, you won’t see the Father.”

Saying 78: Into the Desert

Jesus said, “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed shaken by the wind? A [person] wearing fancy clothes, [like your] rulers and powerful people? They (wear) fancy [clothes] but can’t know the truth.”

Saying 3: Seeking Within

Jesus said, “If your leaders tell you, ‘Look, the kingdom is in heaven,’ then the birds of heaven will precede you. If they tell you, ‘It’s in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and outside of you.

“When you know yourselves, then you’ll be known, and you’ll realize that you’re the children of the living Father. But if you don’t know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”


The Gospel of Thomas is not included in the canonical Christian Bible and was effectively unknown until it was discovered in 1945 at the Nag Hammadi archeological site in Egypt.  Thomas, you may recall, was the skeptical apostle (doubting Thomas) who needed to stick his finger in Jesus’ wound to believe the resurrection.  As a collection of sayings rather than a testament to Jesus’ life story, this gospel is unlike the bible gospels.  The passages above come from a translation by Mark M. Mattison, which is in sufficiently everyday English to be easily readable (  We hope that, as a Naturist, you found reading them relevant and perhaps agreeable.


The Iceman on The Body’s Innate Ability to Protect and Heal Itself

The spring equinox is upon us, but in many parts of the country, it still feels like winter with serious cold and snow.  Many Naturists remain indoors or are flocking south for warmth.  However, if one listens to Wim Hoff, famously known as “the Iceman”, we should be getting outside and going for polar bear swims instead!  The video link below is an interview of Hoff by the actor/comedian Russell Brand.  It is not a Nudist video, but in our view, Hoff’s ideas are indeed “Naturist.”  

Hoff believes that the human body’s innate capacity to protect and heal itself has been impaired by the wearing of clothes.  We evolved with our skin exposed to the elements, and the challenges of volatile climate conditions shaped our nervous system, immune system and other body functions to be highly adaptable and responsive.   Unfortunately, the covering and insulating effects of clothes over many generations has caused these systems to get out of balance and out of shape.  Hoff has successfully developed a practice of cold baths and breathing techniques to reinvigorate these health promoting capabilities.

Hoff is a remarkable individual that has defied common understanding of what the human body can endure.   Through numerous athletic feats in hostile, cold environments as well as subjecting himself to scientific experimentation, he has demonstrated that the body is able to adapt to challenging climates and that these adaptations have positive effects on health.  He believes that all people can do this and has successfully trained others in his methods.

A core theme here is that Naturism promotes a healthy mind in a healthy body with a bright spirit.  We find this idea very much present in Hoff’s remarks.   In addition to sharing the health benefits of his work, he also notes the clarity of mind and spiritual aspects of his experience.  Naturists should be interested in what he has to say.  Perhaps after watching this, you will be inspired to head outside for a naked snow angel, a brisk free-hike or a skinny dip in the nearest body of cool water… or maybe not!


The Rapture of Being Alive

The winter solstice has passed here in the North, and a tough year is over.  The holiday season is finishing up when many faith traditions reflect on matters of the spirit.  Given our belief that Ethical Naturism helps to promote a bright spirit together with a healthy mind in a healthy body, we would like to devote a few remarks to the ways in which Naturism can feed us spiritually.  By spirit we are not simply referring to one’s mood or sense of happiness but to the enigmatic, animating spark within that moves us and makes us feel alive. 

An abundance of testimony has been published over the years by people sharing experiences of Naturism that stirred their souls.  The authors have reported many things including: an awakening of their senses, an honest self-awareness and comfort from self-acceptance, a sense of belonging to a community, and a deep connection and harmony with Nature.  We have submitted a few of these testimonies in earlier posts: Initiation , Like One Reborn  and Halcyon Memories  When you hear Naturists use words like joy, peace, and freedom to describe their experience, they are giving voice to spiritual aspects of Naturism. 

We believe these moments of animated Naturist experience are effectively what the late mythologist Joseph Campbell referred to as The Rapture of Being Alive.  He articulates this idea in the following (non-nudist) video:

Campbell’s comments focus on the power of myth, as symbolic narrative, to evoke the spirit.  There are other tools in addition to narrative that accomplish this, and we believe symbolic ritual also has this power.  Religious rituals such as prayer, communion, various ceremonies and even non-religious but spiritual practices such as meditation are ways in which people reach beyond their everyday life to try and tap into the transcendent.  Ethical Naturism is not a religion, of course, but the act of removing one’s clothing can serve as a ritualistic practice that has evocative symbolic power. 

Clothing is vested with various potent symbolic meanings (authority, social class, wealth, tribal affiliation, conformity, rebellion, masquerade and so on).  Uncloaking one’s physical self, particularly in a communal Naturist setting, is therefore a revelation.  It sheds socially constructed identity to the bare essence.  The authenticity and truth of this is deeply personal and yet liberating. It brings forth a core of one’s humanity and by doing so opens a window for spiritual discovery. 

Additionally, the practice of going naked in Nature can be experienced as symbolically purifying.  Modern life in today’s urban and technological settings is to an extant an un-natural construct and artifice.  Stripping it all away, if only for a while, to exist in a wholly natural state amongst the living, natural earth can be spiritually restorative.  It stirs a deeply primordial sense of one’s participation in and relationship to the web of life and puts one in tune with it. 

It is also appropriate here to mention the Ethical Naturist Triad (See image below and ).  Respect for self, respect for others and respect for Nature are all components of the Golden Rule to treat others as you would treat yourself.  The Golden Rule is a principal that is doctrinal and embraced across religious faith traditions and is also embodied in the values of secular humanism.  While Ethical Naturism is not a religion, its appropriate practice and lived experience can, perhaps surprisingly, resonate with and complement the teachings of many faiths and life philosophies.

                                                                                                      Image by Stéphane Deschênes

The bottom line is that Ethical Naturism has power as a spiritual tool.  The ritual uncloaking of the self in community with others or in Nature sheds the raiment, artifices, and social constructs of modern life and, like Campbell’s myths, can provide clues to the spiritual potentialities of one’s life.  Integrating positive, empathetic, and harmonious attitudes to oneself, to others and to Nature is not only healthy for the body and the mind but also the spirit.    This is, however, not simply a matter of taking off one’s clothes.  It is in doing so with a mindfulness that awakens one to the bigger and more profound meanings of the practice that is a source of positive change.


P.S.  For purely recreational nudists, this post may come across as passionate and preachy.  To be fair, nude time is often simply mundane or just plain fun with no spiritual component whatsoever.  We do not take ourselves too seriously here.  However, we have experienced the spiritual richness of Naturism and do feel moved to share its bigger possibilities.

Let the Lizard Sleep

The inner-most layer of the human brain is casually referred to as the Reptilian or Lizard Brain.  It is so called because its key functions are evolutionarily comparable to… well… a lizard.  It manages unconscious actions, such as breathing and hunger, as well as fight or flight survival instincts.  With some help from another layer, called the Limbic Brain, it also activates the sex drive. 

The Lizard Brain is quite powerful and essential to life, but it is also the source of challenging issues that entangle and limit the Nudist/Naturist Movement.  One such issue is that society associates nudity with sex and consequently views social nudism with discomfort and skepticism.  To be fair, a measure of doubt is justified.  Even amongst Nudists themselves, stories are commonplace concerning experiences with creeps, gawkers, voyeurs, social media trolls, indiscreet libertines and so forth.  It is hard to reconcile the joys and benefits Naturists experience, which can be the antithesis of prurience, to the obscene behaviors of some and society’s somewhat justifiable viewpoint.

The reality is that the powerful sex drive of the Lizard Brain is inherent to the human condition and serves a good and useful purpose.  However, it can also cause people to behave in ways that stray from the acceptable norms of civil society.  It is true that nudity does indeed activate the sex drive, but it is also true that mere nudity does not always and everywhere trigger it.  There are many excellent, working examples of social nudism that are wholesome, non-sexual, and family friendly.  The key is that there are other factors, besides the absence of clothing, that play a role in governing whether and when a person experiences nudity as sexual or not.

It so happens that the human brain evolved beyond that of the lizard and developed higher order capabilities.  Outer layers of the brain, such as the neo-cortex, handle processes such as problem solving, social behavior, language, and abstract thinking.  These layers are commonly referred to as the “Rational Brain” and they have allowed us to develop the moral, rules-based cultures that enable civilized society.

In general, our Rational Brains run the show and make different, usually superior decisions than our Lizard Brains would.  When Naturists use terms such as “acceptance” and “respect”, they are referencing higher order principles from the Rational Brain.  Our Lizard Brains, however, are still with us and are ready to engage our most basic instincts.  This means that for everyone there is a set of conditions that will activate their Lizard Brain and perhaps even over-ride their rational self.  For some, the mere thought of a nude human is enough to conjure up powerful erotic desires.  For others, it takes a more particular context, and mere nudity is simply associated with a variety of enjoyable but non-sexual pastimes. 

Nudity can heat things up…                                             or cool things off.  There is a difference!

We believe that cultural conditioning is a key determinant of what activates one person’s Lizard Brain versus another. People who mostly experience nudity in a sexual way or receive messaging to that effect will have nude sensitive Lizard Brains.  Others who often experience a variety of non-sexual nude activities and receive nude normal messaging will have less nude sensitive Lizard Brains.  Importantly, at least as far as Naturism is concerned, this nude sensitivity does not appear to be static or permanent.  One can start out sexually sensitive to nudity, but with the right set of experiences and messaging become less so over time.

Unfortunately, society conditions people from early childhood with messaging that associates the nude body with sex.  These messages range from labeling genitals “private parts” to sexualizing ads for the latest fashions to outright pornography.  While this conditioning may be useful for commercial exploitation or to assert various power relationships, it is not particularly healthy.  A variety of social ills, including harassment, sexual abuse, eating disorders and porn addiction, can be connected in some degree with societal sexualization of the body.  It is therefore no surprise that there are people who act out their sexual impulses in disrespectful or socially dis-functional ways.  Nor is it surprising that descent, textile folks, particularly females, are cautious concerning social nudity.  Their Lizard Brains are tuned in an unfortunate way. 

Experienced Nudists and Naturists, on the other hand, have managed to overcome this conditioning and possess a broader set of normalized nude conditions than most textile people.  They have internalized an understanding that nudity is non-sexual at certain times in certain places.  Their Lizard Brains sleep quietly while they enjoy the company of their family and friends in nude recreation.  It is in this environment that many of the enriching benefits of Naturist life emerge.  Obviously, they still have sex like everyone else, but they rely on other, more precise cues than mere nudity to wake up their Lizard Brains when it is appropriate.

Given all this, a few points can be made concerning the Lizard Brain and its implications for the Nudist/Naturist Movement:

One, by letting the lizard sleep, it is possible for people to engage in social nudism with norms of behavior that are equivalent or superior to those of textile society.  Wholesome Naturist norms may in fact be essential to facilitating the proliferation of Nudist culture so it can reach a critical mass of social acceptance.   Establishing really good clarity on and broad awareness of the places and times where wholesome Naturist norms are present and enforced will be key in this regard.

Two, organizations that promote Naturist values and healthy body culture should be supported.  These include not only national entities (AANR, TNS) but also local clubs and resorts as well as free beach associations.  In this way, right messaging will be continuously disseminated to society at large and safe, controlled settings will be made available to serve both rookie and veteran Naturists in a positive way. 

Three, as individuals we can model sound Naturist values and even evangelize for the Movement.  Practice your Naturism in appropriate settings at appropriate times for the broadest, reasonable set of life activities.  To the degree possible, share your Naturist story and teach these ways to others.  Join a club, become a beach ambassador, or just embody a healthy body culture that models not only letting your lizard sleep but also an ethic of acceptance and respect that is much needed in the world.  If you happen to possess more liberal or unconventional sexual attitudes, that is fine; just contain your tastes behind closed doors while acting perfectly polite and normal in public socially nude settings.

Four, given the structure of the human brain and how it works, there will always be people whose behavior gets misguided by their Lizard Brains.  Naturists must be vigilant and responsive to situations where someone is acting inappropriately.  Every Naturist has a role to play in enforcing good social norms and responding if someone gets out of line.  With a little leadership and the collective will of a community, it is pretty straightforward to create an environment where Rational Brains prevail, and Lizard Brains are left to sleep. 

Five, this is not about opposing sexuality (we’re all for it!) but about helping people to apply better contextual cues than clothes to de-sexualize social interactions. Great sex, close bonding relationships and babies happen when we let our Lizard Brains roam freely.  This is a good thing.  The fulfilling experience of Naturism, on the other hand, happens when we let our lizards sleep.  This is also a good thing.  It is possible to know the difference and have both rather than either/or.

Obviously, there is a long way to go.  It may take generations to achieve a world where Ethical Naturist culture is commonplace.  However, by letting the lizard sleep, supporting Naturist organizations and modeling sound Naturist behavior, we can build a foundation for the future that allows this wonderful way of living to grow.