Gymnophobia

by Karen Lahey
Gymnophobia is the name for the fear of nudity. It is an anxiety disorder and can be serious. Most people that are anti-nudist don’t suffer from gymnophobia. They suffer from ???. You can fill in the blanks.

It is interesting that there is a phobia about nudity. I wouldn’t have thought it until I was searching the internet for something to write about. This is a not too subtle hint that you ‘should’ be sending me content to publish.

What I did find was a a e-petition being proposed to criminalize gymnophobia. The justification was made that racism is a crime and homophobia is a crime so gymnophobia should be a crime. You can see this e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/73141
You can’t sign this petition unless you are a citizen of the UK.
I agree with most of the petition, but not with the very beginning. There is no way to legislate against hatred and prejudice. And certainly, one should not legislate against the sufferers of a disease. We can only legislate about how people act no matter how they feel about each other.

Really, please send me articles or ideas.

Karen

IMHO (in my humble opinion)

by Karen Lahey
I’ve got an idea on how we can better understand one another and be happier. We would all be better off if we assume the best of intentions from our fellows. Much of the time, when we hear something that doesn’t make sense, we immediately assume that it has been decided with some mean or manipulative reason. We don’t wait to get the facts. However, if we don’t jump to conclusions, we can realize that maybe we don’t know everything about the situation. Perhaps there are good reasons for such decisions. Maybe we don’t really understand the situation. Maybe we could wait to get answers to our questions. We can take time to confirm our assumptions. And sometimes we may just need to trust since there is a valid reason why our question shouldn’t be answered. One way to slow down our jump to a conclusion is to take the time to think of ways that the decision or action might make sense. As Alan Alda said, “Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are the windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile or the light won’t come in.” Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/assumptions.html#VxIMzleDfj65sXaH.99

Now I just need to remember to not jump to conclusions when someone else has jumped to a conclusion that I don’t agree with.

Persistent Prattlings

by Bob Campbell

While I was rummaging around in my alleged mind thinking about what subject I would discuss in this column, a recent piece by New York Times columnist David Brooks caught my attention. He wrote about the revulsion we all experienced over the beheading of two American journalists by Islamic terrorists.
In discussing this revulsion Brooks wrote, “The revulsion aroused by beheading is mostly a moral revulsion. A beheading feels like a defilement. It’s not just an injury or a crime. It is an indignity. A beheading is more like rape, castration or cannibalism. It is a defacement of something sacred that should be inviolable. But what is this sacred thing that is being violated? Well, the human body is sacred.”
The writer has hit upon something most nudists have known all along. He goes on by saying, “Most of us understand, even if we don’t think about it, or have a vocabulary to talk about it these days, that the human body is not just a piece of meat or a bunch of neurons and cells. The human body has a different moral status than a cow’s body or a piece of broccoli.”
He adds, “We’re repulsed by a beheading because the body has spiritual essence. The human head and body don’t just live and pass along genes. They paint, make ethical judgments, savor the beauty of a sunset and experience the transcendent. The body is material but surpasses the material. It’s spiritualized matter.”
Brooks’ column was right on target in his discussion of the human body. It’s no wonder the Islamic world is so heavily clothed. They don’t truly appreciate the magnificence of the wonderful human body. Hopefully most nudists do have that appreciation.
I do not take the subject of terrorist beheadings lightly. They are wrong. They are despicable. The perpetrators deserve to be punished similarly. And nudists should better appreciate just what we have in this country – the freedom to be nude.

Why I am a Nudist

I enjoyed hearing about how others “got started” in their naturist journey…I find it interesting.

My family was very open about our nudity. As a pre-kindergartener, I learned to swim at a nudist pool in CA where my mother would take my brother and me during the hot summer months. We often hiked and camped in the PNW and would skinny-dip as a family at lakes and creek pools. We often showered together after working in the yard. My mother was an artist and she an her artist friends would take turns posing nude for sketching sessions. So I grew up being very natural with my body and seeing others naked.

My wife and I learned early on about the benefits of spa life, massages, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs and natural hot springs and have incorporated those activities in our world travels and homelife. We built an indoor spa room in our home with shower and hot tub which we enjoy textile-free with friends. We had a lovely massage therapist who for over ten years would come to our home once a month to enjoy our hot tub and work in the nude with each of us…sometimes including us for 4-hand massage. I guess that was the inspiration for me to go to massage school, become licensed as an LMP in WA and to continue the art/science of naturist massage work. We enjoy traveling to Baden Baden Germany for the Roman-Irish bathes, Antigua, Cap d’ Agde and California for the nude beaches, Turkish bathes, and spa resorts like Living Waters in Desert Hot Springs and Alicante Spa Resort in Spain. We also enjoy naturist lounging and gardening in our secluded back yard. Many of our friends have joined us in our lifestyle and we’re meeting more and more wonderful people who enjoy and are comfortable with their nudity and bodies.

I guess I have my open-minded parents to thank for this lifestyle.

Cheers,
Wayne Dumas
Captain’s Table Massage (http://www.yellowpages.com/lynnwood-wa/mip/captains-table-massage-456868307)

How I got started

Recent news events of the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation prompted a memory… of the first time I went skinny dipping.

It was August 1974 and I was 19, with Michael, my fiance, visiting friends of his on Long Island in New York. We were staying at their home, and I don’t remember the circumstances now, but they had either gone out or gone to bed when Michael suggested we use their pool for a moonlit swim without clothes.

It was glorious. I loved the feel of the water gliding around my body. Still do. But it was a one-time thing back then.

It wasn’t until 1990 when I was up on Orcas for a singles weekend held at Camp Moran, that someone suggested at dinner that we go over to Doe Bay and use the hot tubs there. This was my first experience with co-ed social nudity – where I was getting naked with people whom I’d just met earlier that day. A little awkward, but still worth being naked in water…

Between 1991 and 2006, I was immersed in women’s groups and it became common to go to the spa together, or drum naked together, or participate in sweat lodges naked. So I was becoming more comfortable being naked around other women. What was amazing about this time was noticing all the different shapes and sizes women’s bodies come in.

In 2006, I began dating again and that August he invited me to a clothing-optional swim held out at the Redmond LongHouse. By this time I was ready and eager for any opportunity to swim naked. I met a SLUGS member there and we exchanged email addresses etc.

In February 2007, he and I were chatting on Yahoo Messenger when he asked me how the weather was up in my neighborhood (at the time he lived in Issaquah and I lived in North Seattle). It had been storming earlier, but I told him the weather had now cleared and then asked why.

His response changed my life: “Because there’s a nude swim I could go to up near you in Shoreline.”

My immediate response: “Really? Can you guest me in?” He did and that was my first (of many) swims at Larry’s. I was so comfortable by all the friendly SLUGS members that I sought out the president and asked how I could become a member. I really had no idea before this that there were places and people with whom I could be nude on a social basis.

Since between 1991 and 2006, I had gained quite a bit of weight, I had been having a hard time reconciling my current body image with the one I had carried all my life as tall and skinny.

The biggest benefit I have gotten from being a social nudist is the acceptance of my body just as it is. I mean, if I can let a bunch of relative strangers see me naked, and see their acceptance, then I achieve a deeper acceptance of myself.

In January 2013, I took on the responsibilities for Treasurer and Membership Officer of Sun Lovers Under Gray Skies (SLUGS) as a way to pay back all that I’ve gotten from them.

My tantalizing desire is to swim nude in the ocean someday. I loved to body surf as a child/teenager in the ocean near my home in Boston. The ocean here is just too cold!

Naturally yours,
Jane Smallman

Why am I a Nudist?

A discussion thread on the SLUGS list had people telling about how they became nudists. We all have different stories and this newsletter is a great way to share them. Being able to tell your story is a first step in being able to tell other people why nudism is great. If you would like your story published, please send it to president@aanr-nw.org. We will publish these essays as they are sent to us. Enjoy.

From BANX:
I just spent a glorious day at Wreck Beach yesterday. While sunning and swimming I reflected on the events that let me to naturism. Following the death of a friend I sought refuge hiking up the wild reaches of a river. I came to the trail’s end at the river bank. The opposite shore was a wide sandy beach. So inviting, it was calling to me. Not wanting to get my clothes wet fording the river I made the choice to strip down and cross. The cool mountain water and sun on my back felt incredible (I think you all know the feeling). When I reached the other side I hesitated before dressing and thought “what’s the point in dressing now?”. Skinny dipping was not new to me, however, I had always done it under the cover of darkness, away from prying eyes. Initially it seemed to me like all the world’s eyes were on me but then I realized that all of nature is naked, nothing covers themselves except humans (and maybe hermit crabs). I spent the next couple hours nude in meditation about my friend’s life and the question “what’s it all about”? We were both raised “Mormon” and that in and of itself raised concepts to consider during my time of reflection (perhaps more to write about later). What was clear to me in a few minutes was that here I am a nude human in nature. The scene could be taken from 30,000 BC, 100 AD, or in the future and little would change. I was in a slice in time that has and will be replayed as long as humans exist. Humans have that need to commune with nature in our most natural state-it is well documented. I thought of the 300 Spartans as they bathed naked before their battle at Thermopylae and Adamites worshipping in the nude. The experience left such an impact on me I felt I had to explore nudism more fully. Wreck beach certainly allows that opportunity on a communal level (Thank you Judy Williams and the Wreck Beach Preservation Society). I feel sorry for those that remained clothed since they are missing such a wonderful experience. Now I feel comfortable walking nude through the mass of people and comfortable sunning while textiles walk past. Perhaps the textiles will take courage in our example and eventually join in.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Nudity, Nudism and our Society – Part 8

by Mel Kanner
Number 7 in a series of articles examining the changes that I have observed to the practice of nudism over the years and our society’s view of nudity.

Archive: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7
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Clothing

We, as nudists, go without clothing when we can. Which when you stop and think about it, is very strange. With a few minor exceptions, all seven billion of us on this planet, live in a culture in which clothing is the norm, and is required.

In order to understand what we get from shedding our clothes, perhaps it would be valuable to look at some of the ways we use clothes in our society. And what that says about us.

Obviously, the primary use of clothing is for protection from the weather or from hazards. It is either too cold, or there is too much sun. As nudists we know that it is not a good idea to be nude while frying bacon or welding.

Our “need” for clothing goes beyond just protection. It is ingrained into our culture, our way of life. It contributes a significant amount to our economy and the vocabularies of our languages. Coats, hats, gloves, parkas, boots, sweaters, socks, stockings, vests, pants, jackets, shoes, etc. etc. When learning a foreign language, after learning how to count from one to ten, and the colors, you work on words for clothing. (The hat, le chapeau).

We use clothing to distinguish between different groups: our tribe from that other tribe (we wear blue feathers, they wear red feathers); our religion from that other religion (we wear skull caps, they wear turbans); our leader from the rest of us (s/he wears a crown, we don’t); our country from that other country (we wear lederhosen, they wear kilts).

We use clothing to distinguish between the sexes. In general, males wear pants, females wear skirts. There are exceptions, of course, and some variations in different cultures. We have particular customs, styles, ways of dressing that are different for men and women. On women’s jackets the buttons are on the left and the button holes on the right. For men it’s the reverse.

Over the centuries these styles have changed — the rules about the type of clothing permitted to be worn by the sexes have changed. Now, in our western culture women are allowed to wear pants, but men are not allowed to wear skirts (except for kilts) or dresses. Men wearing women’s clothing is a form of humor. We even have different styles of bicycles for men and women to accommodate the differences in clothing.

We use clothing to distinguish people by their function or occupation. Military uniforms are instantly recognizable. As are uniforms for police, nurses, judges, clergy. And for the employees at McDonalds and at my local big box hardware store.

We use clothing to distinguish a person’s class or status — where they are in the social order and how much money they have. In previous more class-ridden societies, such as in England during the Downton Abbey days, there were different standards of dress for each of the classes. In current North American society this is not as distinct, but it is still there. We still have white collar, blue collar.

Before I retired, I would often have to meet with customers in professional establishments. Slacks, dress shirt, and tie were considered the minimum acceptable attire. This was particularly true on the east coast. On the west coast, the tie was not necessary. Full “business” attire (for men) — suit, dress shirt, tie, dress shoes — is usually only worn by politicians, lawyers, and preachers (in the South).

(In the last couple of decades, a sort of reverse dress code emerged. Geeks developed a style of less formality, and a visiting geek (like me) who wore a tie, lost some credibility, even on the east coast. The CEO of Apple when presenting the latest and greatest Apple products does not wear a suit and tie.)

Notice that when I mentioned “dress shoes”, you knew what I meant. We have standards of formality of dress that is part of our culture. Clothing for different occasions — weddings, funerals, church, proms. Clothing for different activities — gardening, tennis, jogging. White tie, black tie, dressy, casual. We have standards as to what clothing can be worn for each occasion. Don’t be under-dressed, don’t be over-dressed. As we grow up, we are taught the appropriate “rules” for these different types of dressing. For example, look at the ads in advance of Easter to see what little girls and little boys are expected to wear.

We have standards as to what clothing can be worn with other clothing — one doesn’t wear a striped jacket with checkered pants. Some colors don’t go well with other colors. Except when it was a fad, men didn’t wear pink shoelaces. In general, even now, men don’t wear pink (except in a tie, sometimes).

I can’t speak for women here. Their clothing requirements are much more complicated. And what can and can’t go together is beyond me.

We use clothing to carry things. Pockets are very functional. Most men, for most occasions, can carry all of what they need without some sort of external purse or satchel. At least that is the way it used to be. Now with all the extra smart phones, tablets, etc. many men (including me) carry some sort of external bag. It is still not appropriate to call it a purse, but …

We use clothing for adornment, for decoration — a ribbon in the hair, a flower in a lapel, a scarf to add some color, a piece of jewelry — rings (fingers, toes, ears), watches, earrings, cuff links, tie clasps, lapel pins. A man’s tie has no other function.

I have not exhausted the list of the ways we use clothing. Stay tuned.

Nudity, Nudism and our Society – Part 7

by Mel Kanner
Number 7 in a series of articles examining the changes that I have observed to the practice of nudism over the years and our society’s view of nudity.

Archive: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6
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Community

One of the things that I like about nudist parks is that most of them are communities. Particularly the smaller parks with fewer than a couple hundred members.

Beaches can be very enjoyable. One usually goes for the day, enjoys the sun, sand, water, meeting with friends, and returns home. And although there may be clubs that meet at the beach often, like the Blacks Beach Bares, they are not communities.

The parks, in contrast, can be like small towns. Enclaves with gates and fences. We know everyone and their names (at least their first names. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s everyone was on a first name basis because of concerns that our activities could affect someone’s job if their full identity was known). We greet each other or wave when we pass each other on the street. We are concerned about what happens to others. We inquire about each other’s health. We watch out for each other’s kids. We gather in small and large groups to share meals and camaraderie.

Many of the parks are co-ops. That is, each member is a part owner of the club and has some responsibility towards its operation and maintenance. Most of the management is done by an elected board; most of the maintenance is done by volunteers. Even the proprietary clubs, with paid staff, have volunteers — for entertainment and events.

Many of the clubs have permanent residents, living in cottages, cabins, mobile homes, park models, trailers and other RV’s. Some (like Sun Meadow) have separate residential areas with elaborate custom built homes.

And many have part time residents — that is, members who choose to spend their weekends, and other free time at their park. Often also in RV’s that end up surrounded by decks, fences, flower beds.

Even many of the larger clubs with many hundreds of members and visitors, are like larger towns. Although one may not know everyone by name, nor socialize as one large group, they can be close knit communities. They often have a large number of permanent residences, some in elaborate mobile homes and condos.

At Cypress Cove, a large proprietary club/resort in Florida, where we often snowbird, we do not know everyone by name, but we still wave to each other when we pass on the street. We make friends with people who participate in the same activities we choose, or are staying in our neighborhoods. We get together for meals or social events. There are people to help us when we need it.

Some nudist parks/resorts are not communities at all. Some are like beaches where you share a space to enjoy some time without the encumbrances of clothes. But these parks without the community essence are not the norm.

In the past we have spent some time at one of the non-community nudist resorts, and have visited many others, both large and small, but have found them to be very unsatisfying. Our nudist participation now is almost exclusively at parks that have this community feel.

This sense of community is not unique to nudist parks. Many small towns, church groups, retirement living centers, have the same community focus. Even some neighborhoods in large cities are moving toward this. And some new developments are being designed with community in mind.

I consider this community aspect to be an important part of the nudist community. More later.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact me at rights-chair@aanr-nw.org or mel@melkanner.com

Nudity, Nudism and our Society – Part 6

by Mel Kanner
Number 6 in a series of articles examining the changes that I have observed to the practice of nudism over the years and our society’s view of nudity.

Archive: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

Another problem at our nudist beaches and parks is photography.

Many nudists have been reluctant to disclose that they were nudists because of the fear that they might face job discrimination or censure. School teachers typically fall into this category. Being photographed nude was taking an additional risk. As a result most nudist parks have had rules about photography — typically, only on special occasions, such as an event, only by designated photographers, only for a specific purpose, and only with signed permission forms. One does not take out a Kodak Brownie and just start taking pictures.

At beaches that was not as easy to control. At our Blacks Beach outing, we could see that our looky-loo (LL) had a large camera with a large lens. His intention was obvious. And he was successfully thwarted by the Blacks Beach Bares.

But that was 10 years ago. Photography has changed. We went digital a while back. You can no longer just rip out the film from a confiscated camera. (Big film making companies like Kodak have stopped making film.) Cameras have gotten smaller and smaller but are still noticeable.

But, for quite a while now, cameras have been embedded in cellphones. Many parks banned their use while on the grounds. But that is no longer feasible. Cellphones really shouldn’t be called phones, since making phone calls is only one the many functions of these personal electronic assistants. And for many, its least important. For many, their phone is absolutely necessary — calendars, text messages, email, notes, twitter feeds, Google searches, web sites, and occasionally phone calls. iPads and other tablets fall into the same category, they just have bigger screens.

And they all have cameras, usually two. And there really is no way to tell whether a person is taking a picture or just reading email. And that picture can be uploaded to the internet in seconds.

This revolution sneaked up on us while we weren’t looking. And the change is only going to increase. The electronics keeps getting smaller and faster (estimates are half the size and twice the speed every year and a half). You can already buy a pair of glasses that has almost all of your cellphone capabilities. With a camera. And a connection to the internet. You can tell it to take a picture, or movie, of anything you are looking at. (It’s called Google Glass and here is a link to it. https://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does/.)

It is highly probable that they will be able to embed the same functionality into contact lenses, and there is speculation about electronic implants. Complete control of the taking of pictures at nudist beaches and parks is impossible.

There is no going back to the good old days.

Nudity, Nudism and our Society – Part 5

by Mel Kanner
Number 5 in a series of articles examining the changes that I have observed to the practice of nudism over the years and our society’s view of nudity.
 
Archive: #1, #2, #3, #4
More about Looky-Loos (LL’s)
 
We have always had LL’s.  Even in a “textile” environment: on a beach, at a public swimming pool, or even on the street, there are going to be people (particularly men) looking at others (particularly women).
 
Men look at women — with admiration, with hope, with desire, with …   I am sure that psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and other observers of human behavior can give you more ideas on why and how this occurs, and the variations of this behavior among our different cultures, but in general this seems to be universal.
 
Women grow up with an awareness of the various degrees of looking: the appreciative glance, the longer look when the men think they are being unobserved.  And they also experience the leers, the catcalls, the invitations, the name-calling. They are taught at an early age never to be seen by boys in a state of undress. They are taught to put up with inappropriate sexual remarks, unwanted sexual advances, not to walk by themselves at night in out -of-the-way places. And they experience that every day. This is part of their lives.
 
(At the same time they have also learned that how they dress and how they look is really important. The venders in our society take advantage of this by providing ways to change their weight, or their hair, or their eyelashes, or their boobs. More about that, perhaps, in a future article.) 
 
Women look at men too, but perhaps not in the same way. At least they don’t seem to.  Perhaps that is cultural, something left over from our puritanical heritage. I am sure that those “-ologists” that I named also have something to say about that. That appears to be changing some in our society — “Playgirl” magazine has become almost as popular as “Playboy”.
 
There are various degrees of “looking” and most forms are not a problem, even in a nude environment. Men who visit our parks or beaches solely for the purpose of expected sexual excitement, are usually disappointed.  They find that the environment is not sexual at all, or not sexual enough. Nudists are all different sizes, shapes and ages.  The number of nude “10’s” they expected to see are few or non-existent (there are not many 10’s in this world — they seem to exist mostly in movies and magazines, and our imaginations). Sexual “cavorting on the lawn” is not standard behavior.  They get bored and leave.
 
When there are large crowds at our parks or beaches, LL’s are usually not even noticeable. At Blacks with only a handful of people on the beach the LL’s stood out.  It was obvious what their intentions were, and the Blacks Beach Bares were able to circumvent those intentions. And at our nudist parks the LL’s usually choose to leave or are politely asked to.
 
But there are some LL behaviors that are a problem. One is staring.
 
Staring: to gaze fixedly and intently, especially with the eyes wide open, boldly or obtrusively conspicuous, or with intense scrutiny.
 
Staring is not polite under any circumstances.  We just don’t do that.  It makes people uneasy, uncomfortable, and afraid. Especially women.
 
And women know why men are staring at them — it is sexual, and objectifying, and demeaning. And it could be dangerous.
 
It is not surprising that women in the past have been reluctant to visit nudist parks. 
 
It doesn’t have to be this way.  Responsible nudists at beaches or parks can, by observing undesirable behavior, intervene to “politely police” the area to discourage unwanted behavior and thus make women and families more safe and comfortable.