By Charles Daney, © Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved

If you're reading this, the chances are you are in one of two categories. Either you are someone who has already discovered the benefits and pleasures of a more clothes-free way of living, but you have noticed that not many young adults seem to have made the same discovery. Or else you are a young adult who has little or no experience with clothes-freedom, and you wonder why some people make such a big deal out of something that may not seem all that appealing.
First, there isn't anything inherent about being in the 18-30 age range that makes a person averse to nudity. With younger teenagers (13 to 17) there may well be. These are difficult times of adjusting to both major changes in one's body as well as taking major steps towards independence from one's parents. Young adults, however, should be well on their way to putting such issues behind them. They are considered "adults" because they have in fact achieved enough maturity to deal more rationally than emotionally with the problems of adolescence. And this includes being able to deal with nudity.

It hasn't always been this way. The generation of people who came of age in the 60s and 70s were more at ease with nudity (even though, statistically, interest in nudity was still rather outside of the mainstream). Perhaps this has more than a little to do with why this generation, now middle-aged, is more strongly represented in social nudity than younger people. People in this age range can recall (if they happen to be male) when it was normal to swim naked at the Y. They remember, fondly, the clothing optional parties and skinny-dipping that weren't uncommon on campuses in the late 60s and 70s. They flocked in large numbers to the "free" beaches - many of which still are "clothing optional", but rather less heavily used.

Today, there are plenty of examples that show that young people are quite able to deal with nudity and enjoy it under appropriate circumstances. Just look at the popularity of mass nude runs (sometimes known as "streaking") at colleges and universities - for example the University of Michigan "Naked Mile", the Hamilton College Varsity Streaking Team, and last year’s International Nude Bike Ride held in cities throughout the world. And an even bigger example of youth participation can be found at the annual Burning Man Festival, where the average age is around 30.

Admittedly, social nudity is still decidedly a minority interest although I suspect there are many more “closet nudists” who participate in the privacy of their own homes or backyards than pollsters have yet discovered. There are probably many different reasons that most young adults don't seem interested in trying social nudity – almost as many different reasons as there are people. But they do tend to fall into certain typical categories. So we're going to try a “Top Ten List” that examines the most important reasons. Actually in composing this article, I found an additional reason so forgive me if our “Top Ten” is actually a “Top Eleven.” And for each, we'll try to suggest why the reason need not by an insurmountable deterrent - and simple steps that anyone can take to overcome the obstacle if he/she wishes to.

  1. Young people prefer to associate with others near their own age, yet they find few people of their age involved in clothes-free activities.

    It is true that most participants in organized nudist/naturist activities are over 30 - for all of the reasons listed here. Unfortunately, this is a self-reinforcing, self-perpetuating phenomenon, if young people stay away from social nudity simply because they don't immediately find others about their age. It may be necessary to find others one person at a time, and form new social groups. Fortunately, there are many new tools now available on the Internet to find other people in one's own area with similar interests, things like message forums, mailing lists, chat systems, and Web site "guest books". There are now a few Web sites specifically set up to assist young people with an interest in social nudity to make contact.

  2. Young people just aren't interested in the sedate, "family-oriented" lifestyle promoted at many nudist clubs and resorts.

    Young people who visit traditional nudist clubs and resorts often find them boring. This is really just a corollary of the fact most of the membership at such places is considerably older. Older people will naturally shape the available activities into what is most appealing to themselves rather than what younger people would like. The solution is for young people to organize groups and activities according to their own tastes. Again, it's necessary to use other avenues to locate young people interested in social nudity. In point of fact, the membership of traditional nudist clubs and resorts is only a small percentage - perhaps 1% to 2% - of the population that is interested in social nudity. This latter group is much larger, but people in it are much harder to find with a map or directory. However, once you find others interested in social nudity, you can get together for activities such as visiting clothing-optional beaches, hot springs, and the like - or just parties at someone's home. A little research will also show that there are various existing groups, which combine social nudity with active sports like volleyball, running, canoeing, and hiking. You'll find a higher proportion of young folks in groups like this.

  3. Young people, especially those who don't have an ongoing relationship, feel a higher degree of sexual tension that is stimulated by nudity.

    There may be no quick fix for this. You have to be very clear that organized social nudity is not a form of sexual entertainment. Its purpose is something altogether different from the release of sexual tension. To deal with that, there isn't any good alternative to forming the kind of special relationship with another person (or persons) that is right for each individual. That should be the first goal: work on your own social life. Then you will find that social nudity really is free from sexual tension. But single people can definitely enjoy social nudity - as long as they pursue other appropriate outlets for their sexual needs. Obviously, it will help if one can find a partner who shares one's interest in social nudity. But the truth is that it's much easier to find an appropriate partner in the much wider world outside of organized social nudity.

  4. Teenagers going through puberty are usually uncomfortable with their bodies. This discomfort often tends to persist into the young adult years.

    A young adult is, by definition, more mature than a teenager. The best advice one can give to anyone over 18 who still has hang-ups about how his/her body looks is: get over it! There really isn't anything awful or gross or disgusting or "offensive" about how a naked body looks. We all have one. It's absurd to be, unlike any other animal, unable to stand the sight of a normal member of one's species. Everyone needs to learn "body acceptance", because that is part of self-acceptance, which is a tremendously important part of growing up. Becoming involved with social nudity, in fact, almost always helps enormously with achieving body acceptance. The first steps can be hard - but then it gets drastically easier.

  5. There is a strong pressure on young people to have "beautiful" or "attractive" bodies, but going naked lets everyone see the imperfections in one's body.

    To the extent that physical attractiveness plays a role in mate selection, there is going to be such a pressure. But does being naked actually reveal that much more of one's body than happens with a typical swimsuit? No, except (perhaps) for the genitals the essential details are pretty obvious. Assuming that you do as much as is reasonably necessary (in your opinion) to be in good physical shape, your body is just fine the way it is naturally. And as a young person, your body is probably as "attractive" as it ever will be, so appreciate it at its best! Genetically speaking, almost no one actually has the shape of the supermodels heavily promoted by the media and advertising. The sooner you realize this and adopt realistic expectations about your own body's appearance, and that of actual or potential mates, the happier you will be. That's what body acceptance is all about.

  6. Young people are more susceptible to peer pressure, and traditional nudist/naturist activities are not socially "acceptable" in many circles.

    This is another holdover from the teenage years, when peer pressure is, generally, far too important. If the concept of "cool" implies some peer-generated standard of how you have to be, it's a bad idea. It's time to get over this as well. Most people eventually realize it isn't necessary to wear the same sort and styles of clothes as everyone else. Take it further, and you realize it isn't necessary to wear clothes at all (in an appropriate environment). Ask yourself: whose life is it, anyway? You only get one chance at it, so do it the way you want, not the way "everyone else" seems to think necessary - if you believe you have sound reasons for the difference. Keep in mind Thoreau's remark: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

  7. Students and young people in relatively low-paying jobs have little money to spend on travel and club fees.

    Since traditional nudist clubs and resorts aren't necessarily the best places for young people to enjoy social nudity anyway, what difference does it make? The basic fact is that enjoying nudity is one of the least expensive forms of fun there is - you actually save money that doesn't have to be spent on unnecessary "status" clothing and laundry. You don't have to go any farther than your own home or apartment to enjoy social nudity. Although most people are not so fortunate as to live close to established clothing-optional beaches, there are still many possibilities for nude hiking and skinny-dipping in remote areas on public lands if you're in shape to visit more out of the way places.

  8. Young men who lack a willing female companion are discouraged from visiting some nudist clubs and resorts alone.

    This is true in some cases. But remember what we've been saying all along - established clubs and resorts represent just a small fraction of people interested in social nudity. Explore all the other alternatives. Consider forming your own club. You don't have to own land - most nudist/naturist clubs are "non-landed". Often they're just groups of friends, not formally incorporated as a club. Their activities include recreation on public lands, get-togethers at members' homes, and (occasionally) even visiting landed clubs.

  9. Young people lack experience in the practicalities of organizing social clubs and events for themselves.

    There's so much to learn in life, we're all dead before we learn even a fraction of it. But there's no reason to be afraid of learning new things that are useful to us. Young people are usually busy learning the details of a profession, how to manage finances, perhaps how to take care of small children. All of these things are a lot more complex than organizing a social club.

  10. Students with a heavy course load, and perhaps a part-time job, have little time for planned social events. Young people getting started in a career are expected to work long hours. There just isn't much time for a social life, especially one that is not part of "the beaten path" in mainstream society.

    It doesn't get any easier until you're ready to retire or (at least) until your own children leave home. No matter how busy you feel right now, the more responsibilities you acquire over the years (on the job or around the house) the less "free" time you're going to have. The truth is, if you're under 30, the chances are that you have more time to enjoy now than you will later. So enjoy it now, while you can. The whole secret of managing time is in setting priorities. Some amount and type of recreation should be a priority. The question is: will it be with clothes, or without.

  11. Colleges and universities are reluctant to allow campus naturist organizations to receive official sponsorship out of concern for problems with sexual harassment or nudity involving students under 18 years old.

    This problem, of course, arises only for young people still in an educational institution, if they want to use any campus facilities for their organizing and meetings. Keep in mind that sexual harassment and "underage" nudity are legitimate concerns of school administrators, especially in these politically correct and sexually paranoid times. But the objections can be overcome in most "reasonable" schools. The would-be organizer of a campus clothing-optional club or event needs to take on the burden of educating himself/herself about the issues and including appropriate safeguards in the plans. It shouldn't be a big deal, as long as the problems are understood. Given this understanding, it should be possible to convince the necessary people that social nudity is not a hazardous activity and is as deserving of support as any other activity. It's just necessary to be willing to stand up for something you believe in, even though it is widely misunderstood to have much less merit than it really does. If you can get by that problem, a campus environment is actually a great one for clothing-optional activities: It's easy to get the word out to people who may be interested, plenty of meeting and recreational facilities are potentially available, and usually the community is more open-minded and free-thinking than is normally the case in society at large.

I ask everyone to reflect on these reasons and on what each of us can do to help overcome them. My next suggestion is for young people who might be interested to go onto the Internet and Google for online places where you can discuss clothes-freedom, social nudity, and naturism with others of your age bracket. There are many alternatives, such as discussion forums, chat rooms, mailing lists, and individual Web site guest books. Consult my list of sites belonging to or describing places to enjoy clothes-freedom in the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world. Chances are good you'll find places close to where you live, but finding one that is "right" for you may take a little research.

A final word of warning, be aware there are also a few predators out there, especially on-line, who pretend to be younger than they are but who really have their own agendas. Never give out personal information on-line to anyone such as last names, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card data, etc. If you agree to meet someone, suggest a nearby nudist resort because AANR and The Naturist Society do a great job of screening members and guests before they are allowed in. True nudists understand that “nude is not lewd” so if anyone suggests otherwise, drop them from your Internet chat immediately and report them to your Web Master. Social Nudism in a safe environment can be a lot of fun for young people, and it also can be a liberating experience especially for those of you struggling with body acceptance issues. My advice is, if you want to give it a try, “Just do it!” You’ll be amazed how great it feels.

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