By Sylv T

I am definitely a comfy clothes type of person. Pyjamas, sweatpants, T-shirts and hoodies – give me all of them!

But, as much as I’d love for everyone to enjoy the benefits of comfy clothes, there are some people who don’t find them attractive at all (cue the mock shock and horror). In fact, they’d prefer not to wear any clothes. At all.  This nudist or naturalist phenomenon is on the rise, but is it for you?  

What Exactly Is It? 

This practice of not wearing clothes is generally restricted to legally designated areas, including homes and privately rented spaces, and some common public locations such as nudist beaches, parks and resorts.  Similarly, individuals can choose if they want to participate in this activity alone, with a select group, or to open it up to anyone.

Aside from sunbathing at beaches, generally the more familiar face of nudism, many adopters practise it alongside everyday activities such as cooking, picnicking and yoga. Nudist groups also organise frequent events – outdoor ones like festivals, bike rides, treks and sports tournaments, with indoor activities having educational options like museum tours.

How Did It Come About?

Being naked is not new. We are born naked, and in some tribes around the world, it is still considered a normal part of life. In the western world, nudism started in the late 19th century as a German working-class’ way of refuting the “immoral and materialistic” mechanisation and urbanisation process. Going naked symbolised their desire to return back to a more natural lifestyle, compared to the rise of artificial factories and man-made products. 

Over the decades, it gained acceptance across European countries and reached America by the 1930s. Now international, it retains its original ideals of naturalistic clean living, non-sexual relaxation, and the initial values of acceptance, harmony, openness and self-love.

Current Global Reception

More than 100 years later, it’s no surprise that European states and their Western counterparts (America and Australia) still embrace and celebrate nudism the most. In Spain, people can go anywhere without clothes while other nations may permit some but not be big fans. 

In Asia, the Philippines disallows public nudity, and people must be careful to only practise nudism at designated locations while, in the vast majority of other countries,  nudism is illegal. In Singapore, for instance, even being seen walking around your house without clothes on is an offence under the law! 

Despite varying degrees of openness to this practice, nudists have long sung its praises but, there have also been concerns raised about its possible negative implications. I take a look at both sides of the story.

Some Professed Benefits

Body acceptance: The myth of the perfect body is rapidly dispelled, as war wounds, pregnancy scars, and the natural effects of ageing are fully exposed. Instead of stressing about measuring up to unattainable body standards, nudists may experience a more peaceful sense of “zen” and relief – we aren’t abnormal, inadequate or flawed after all…

Deeper connections with your community: During a nudist gathering, the façade of outer appearances, including attire, accessories, shoes and make-up, is (quite literally) stripped away. With this levelling effect, individuals have found themselves connecting more easily on deeper emotional levels. When everyone stops hiding behind their outer garb, they also realise that they have been making assumptions about each other all along. This leads to a shedding of preconceived notions, allowing people to see and care for each other as they are.

Possible Concerns

Dubious spectators: According to scientists, the rational part of a human’s brain isn’t fully developed until around the age of 25. Hence, many children and youth who follow their parents into family-nude events might not fully understand the implications of such a decision until much later. Just last year, individuals frequenting a nudist park complained about voyeurs, exhibitionists, and perverts hiding in bushes. Also, the likelihood of “children being naked around adults neither their parents or themselves know”, plus the dreaded prospect of ill-intentioned individuals lurking around, should make parents seriously consider how such events could affect their kids.

A warped view of the human body: Despite nudism’s original intention to promote self-love and acceptance, we live in a time when books like Fifty Shades of Grey are breaking global records, and some celebrities go all out to flaunt their flesh. Children and youth are highly impressionable, so parents must take extra caution to remind them that they are much more than just what their bodies look like.

Having weighed up these pros and cons, I understand nudism probably isn’t for everyone. I, for one, still hear my sweatpants calling out to me. I’m grateful, however, for the reminder that we are all different and that forming deep connections with others is so important.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, we now have extra time at home – the perfect opportunity to build deeper relationships with those we cherish. Zoom calls, (fully clothed) here I come!