Seeing and Being Seen

“We come here because we like to see and be seen.  Really… if someone isn’t comfortable seeing or being seen… well, they shouldn’t come.”  So declared a nudist couple in a recent poolside conversation.  The comment initially struck us as odd and perhaps supporting the textile view that nudists are just voyeurs and exhibitionists.  However, these folks went on to explain with earnestness and sincerity why they held this view.  It was an interesting conversation that is worth sharing, so we have tried, as faithfully as memory allows, to capture the substance of it below.

First, they pointed out that in a nudist setting everybody looks, but nobody stares.  This in fact occurs in all communal groups whether people are wearing clothes or not.  It is human nature to be aware of those about you and to form impressions of who you are with.  Being nude adds a dimension and is better because people are presented and observed as they truly are not as an adorned or masqueraded version of themselves.  It is naked truth.  This couple basically said, “We like to be honest and authentic with others who are being honest and authentic with us.”

Second, they said that to see and be seen nude is like a relational bargain.  To be naked is to be vulnerable, and to present yourself in a vulnerable state to others is to make a declaration of trust.  They said it is like when a dog rolls over and invites you to rub its belly.  It is a gesture of trust that establishes a friendly bond and is graceful to the parties involved.  This couple was saying “We enjoy giving and receiving trust to make friends and experience being in community with others in this peaceful, friendly and cooperative way.”

Third, they pointed out that to be a nudist is to be in the minority.  Society at large does not embrace this practice.  Those that do know that it is good and like to mingle with others that see things the same way.  It is affirming.  Thus, the couple explained, “We like to recognize and be recognized by others as being part of this lifestyle that is right and good.”  It is an act of solidarity.

Not every nudist/naturist feels as motivated or ideological as these people do, but the points they made seem fair and reasonable.  They were thoughtful and were clearly engaging in Nudism for right reasons.  Even if you skinny dip just for fun, without any motivating philosophy, you will still, in all likelihood, experience or feel some sense of honesty, authenticity, trust and common bond when doing it with others.  This is what these folks were talking about.