Searching for answers, in order to make plans for naturism's revival
Yours is a US perspective where mine is UK, but I think there a few similarities that make for relevance.
When I (a fellow “boomer” was young we played outside till we were called home, and parents hardly knew where we were. By the ‘90s parents were worrying where their children were, keeping them
In, and fretting that every passing stranger was a paedophile.
Children growing up able to explore the world have worried less about trying things - like nudity - than those who’ve been taught a base level of fear.
My experience in Ontario, Canada is that Naturism is booming here specifically. Things like The Naturist Living Show, Stephane and The Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park are the main driving factors.
Those of us that participate here eagerly listen to The Naturist Living Show as it is a positive expression of the way we think and of the lifestyle in general. The show breaks down topics into personal experience and there is an emotional connection to his audience and his guests.
We need more of this for the movement to grow.
Yes, we certainly need more like that - especially in the U.S. In Canada's southern neighbor there's a strong and growing trend against any kind of body freedom, including naturism. For instance, Twitter just kicked out Stephane's place without any justification or even explanation.
One thing that has changed since the boomers were growing up is the prevalence and acceptance of nudity associated with physical education. When I was at school in the 60s and 70s showers after sports were compulsory, and hence we got to commune naked with our peers at least 3 times a week during school terms (and almost daily for those of us who were involved in sports teams). Also common during those times (especially I believe in the US, and for males) was nude swimming - either in school pools or YMCAs.
Growing up in this sort of environment means that most kids grew up with a reasonably nonchalant attitude towards nudity (at least once the initial 'bare bum' experience had been passed at the start of secondary school), which then made skinny dipping with mates far less of an issue. Three or four mates from school out for a hike would've found it far less intimidating in the 1980s to peel off and go for a dip in a lake/river than their counterparts today.
And the reason for the change in schools - the paranoia over child abuse coupled with the arrival of phones with cameras on them.
Very interesting, thought provoking article. I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but I find that a segment of the “younger generation” of today is interested in finding and being a part of a philosophy. Many doubt this — labeling them as self centered in contrast. But I see a desire to connect with something bigger — health, social issues, communities. Religion used to provide that for some. Less so today.
Presenting naturism as nothing more than a lazy, poolside, activity doesn’t connect with this whatsoever. Sure, it’s nice now and again. But I see a generation looking for something that makes them whole, engages them, makes them better, connects them. That’s great news because naturism does just that! We, and the organic that supposedly champion naturism, need to get that message out there, be visible, be active, explain a culture, a philosophy. Recreation is fine. But it’s more than that.
I'm a Boomer (1949). My girlfriend was the one who suggested exploring my family's woods nude, although I had already been doing that for a long time. I learned about nudism while watching an episode of the game show "What's My Line?" that featured nudist club owner Alois Knapp. I also watched TV Personality Art Linkletter interview at least two nudists. I thought that nudism was about the best idea I'd ever heard. That must have been about the time that nudist magazines were allowed to go through the mail, but it seems like nudism was just on the public mind. I definitely buy into the idea that home economics, especially two-income households, have dampened participation in nudism. Trying to keep a house presentable while both parents are working full-time has kept my clothes on more than I wish. My son is an older millennial who told me at twelve or so that he didn't think he was a nudist. Recently I said something to him about his generation's being more comfortable with sexual nonconformity and the range of body types. He said that while that is true, they are getting a lot less sex. I'm not sure exactly how that fits, except to suggest that the zeitgeist is finely grained and chaotic.
Are you retired, Tom? At some point there comes a time for people to adopt the outlook expressed in the title of a Feynman book: What Do You Care What Other People Think?
I hope it's not confusing that I'm replying in reverse order to your comments. Anyhow, when will you start writing in your Substack?
Human societies have always been more or less chaotic. Russians have always had a strong barbarian streak. but that's hardly unique.
Generations are twenty years because that a nice round number that roughly lines up with the age a woman would typically get married and pregnant in most of the last half of the 20th century. The time to generate a replacement. It no longer matches that period as women delay childbirth longer and longer. But it is still traditional.
However a named generation (GenX, Millenials, Gen Z, is typically a ten year range) is not defined by how long it takes to "generate" a replacement. They are usually divided up according to the historical event that shaped their attitudes. The lost generation was dominated by WWI. The greatest generation was shaped by WWII. The silent generation was shaped by the McCarthyism, Cold War, and Korea. The boomers can be divided up in the early (1945-54) and late boomers (1955-1964.) Late boomers just missed the draft but had to be worried about it as teenagers.
The pill, urbanization, a large college population and the gradual replacement of religion by science and technology allowed the sexual revolution to flourish.
Boomers were shaped by Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, and unprecedented education, wealth and numbers. They had the freedom to be idealistic and hedonistic and the numbers to actually be a force. Unfortunately they were often not welcome in organized nudism.
If I were gay, some people would think that I'm a pervert, but some would recognize that I'm wired for sex and romance with other men. My fear is that my nudism would make people think I'm shallow.
Fashion is a form of self-expression and autonomy in a certain period and in a certain context of clothing, shoes, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle and body posture. This term implies an appearance defined by the fashion industry as one that is trending. Everything that is considered fashion is accessible and popularized by the fashion system (industry and media).
en.wikipedia.org . Young people have always followed fashion. It is enough to make naturism a fashion trend and young people will love naturism.
"Now we need a similar new idea."
Sure, that would be good. So what do you suggest?
The problem with fads - which the "Hippie movement" was - is that they have a short shelf life and don't last. Social changes that can endure need to have real substance. Why is that? It's because things that challenge social norms - even bad norms - are heavily resisted by the larger society. Consider how long it's been to achieve racial equality. That's still being fought over.
Late to the party on this post, but I just found your substack through Evan, read through your past post and as a 36 year old, I think I should comment on my observations. A lot has already been said about the decline of communal showers in the 90s (though I still have found memories of them, from when I was young. Even as late as the early 00 at an overnight camp) to which I think is because of the fear of the media hype "stranger danger", that got parents to fear sex abuse in the locker rooms, leaving a generation without non-sexual nudity.
However, I am.also optimistic too. The resort I have been attending for the past 5 years, Solair in Woodstock, CT, had seen a increase of young college age people traveling out in groups, more so then when I started going to nude places 10 years ago, when I was in my 20s.
Another thing about the "wave" Solair did have a huge family population in the late 90s till early 00s. They had about 40 family members, who also brought their friends, and the beach would be crowded with kids. When those kids become 20 somethings and went off to college, they wanted to do there own thing, and ofcourse the numbers dropped off, to a point, for awhile Solair had no families. However, now in their 30s many of those 'kids" are coming back with families and kids of their own who are embracing it.