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  • Naturism in Europe

    I've just spent the last three or four weeks travelling northern Europe (Holland, Denmark and Germany)and enjoying naturist venues and thought I'd share a few observations. The venues ranged from small private clubs to big commercial camp sites as well as the odd nudist beach.

    I was travelling alone and although I took the precaution of phoning ahead when I was planning to stay at a naturist site, at no time was my solo status queried. Indeed at every place I stayed I was made to feel extremely welcome. It's often said that if naturist venues alowed unlimited single males then they would become overrun with single males and drive away all the females and families. Well guess what? It's not true. I encountered just three or four singles (male and female)so where are all these single males waiting to flock to naturist clubs? A figment of someone's imagination I think.

    During my travels I encountered many people with bodies so imperfect it makes you weep. Like the 80 year old man whose right leg is completely immobile he can only get around using a walking frame. Or the woman desperately ill with cancer who'd had a partial masectomy, was painfully thin and showing the usual signs of radiation therapy. I came across several people with deep scars and many people who clearly struggle with body weight. Then I read on these boards things like the guy who likes to walk around with a "non-sexual" semi-erection and the guys who worry that their penis will shrink to the size of a peanut when they get out of a cold swimming pool and I find myself wondering if they have any concept of what naturism is about.

    I've spoken to a lot of people these last few weeks to try to understand what makes them naturists and the conclusion I've come to is that although people will give you different reasons ranging from "I just like it" to deeply philosophical psycho analysis, the common thread I believe is a desire for simplicity both in practical terms (such as it's just easier to wear no clothes) and in "lifestyle" terms. For example I've met a number of people who have given up houses or apartments to live full time in a caravan/trailer at a naturist site. They've all said they were concerned that it might be too drastic a step but now they'd done it they realised it was like fulfilling a life ambition.

    I also stayed at regular campsites and I can now state with a certain amount of authority that almost without execption naturists sites are of a much higher quality in terms of:

    • cleanliness - washrooms etc were always of the highest standard of cleanliness because people cleaned up after themselves instead of leaving it to someone else
    • friendliness - at naturist sites almost everyone goes out of their way to speak to you; at non-naturist sites almost everyone ignores you. I was often invited to share meals or drinks by naturists, never by non-naturists
    • price - many of the naturist sites were cheaper than the regular sites
    • space - the naturist sites almost always provided more space for tents and caravans
    • security - I would think nothing of leaving possessions such as camera or money in full view of everyone even if I went off site for the day.[/list]
      I was talking about this to a naturist in Germany (where they call naturism "FKK") and asked why he thought the naturist venues were always so much better and his reply was simply "I think FKK people are just nicer people". And I guess he's right but it begs the question does naturism make people nicer or are nicer people attracted to naturism? I think it's a bit of both.

      If anyone wants any specific information about the countries I visited please feel free to PM me or post a question here.

      Rik

  • #2
    I've just spent the last three or four weeks travelling northern Europe (Holland, Denmark and Germany)and enjoying naturist venues and thought I'd share a few observations. The venues ranged from small private clubs to big commercial camp sites as well as the odd nudist beach.

    I was travelling alone and although I took the precaution of phoning ahead when I was planning to stay at a naturist site, at no time was my solo status queried. Indeed at every place I stayed I was made to feel extremely welcome. It's often said that if naturist venues alowed unlimited single males then they would become overrun with single males and drive away all the females and families. Well guess what? It's not true. I encountered just three or four singles (male and female)so where are all these single males waiting to flock to naturist clubs? A figment of someone's imagination I think.

    During my travels I encountered many people with bodies so imperfect it makes you weep. Like the 80 year old man whose right leg is completely immobile he can only get around using a walking frame. Or the woman desperately ill with cancer who'd had a partial masectomy, was painfully thin and showing the usual signs of radiation therapy. I came across several people with deep scars and many people who clearly struggle with body weight. Then I read on these boards things like the guy who likes to walk around with a "non-sexual" semi-erection and the guys who worry that their penis will shrink to the size of a peanut when they get out of a cold swimming pool and I find myself wondering if they have any concept of what naturism is about.

    I've spoken to a lot of people these last few weeks to try to understand what makes them naturists and the conclusion I've come to is that although people will give you different reasons ranging from "I just like it" to deeply philosophical psycho analysis, the common thread I believe is a desire for simplicity both in practical terms (such as it's just easier to wear no clothes) and in "lifestyle" terms. For example I've met a number of people who have given up houses or apartments to live full time in a caravan/trailer at a naturist site. They've all said they were concerned that it might be too drastic a step but now they'd done it they realised it was like fulfilling a life ambition.

    I also stayed at regular campsites and I can now state with a certain amount of authority that almost without execption naturists sites are of a much higher quality in terms of:

    • cleanliness - washrooms etc were always of the highest standard of cleanliness because people cleaned up after themselves instead of leaving it to someone else
    • friendliness - at naturist sites almost everyone goes out of their way to speak to you; at non-naturist sites almost everyone ignores you. I was often invited to share meals or drinks by naturists, never by non-naturists
    • price - many of the naturist sites were cheaper than the regular sites
    • space - the naturist sites almost always provided more space for tents and caravans
    • security - I would think nothing of leaving possessions such as camera or money in full view of everyone even if I went off site for the day.[/list]
      I was talking about this to a naturist in Germany (where they call naturism "FKK") and asked why he thought the naturist venues were always so much better and his reply was simply "I think FKK people are just nicer people". And I guess he's right but it begs the question does naturism make people nicer or are nicer people attracted to naturism? I think it's a bit of both.

      If anyone wants any specific information about the countries I visited please feel free to PM me or post a question here.

      Rik

    Comment


    • #3
      Rik

      Nice to see your'e back. I was wondering where you had been. Sounds like you had a great time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Mel,

        The weather was "variable" (i.e. it rained a lot) but that didn't stop me having a great time. In fact nudity in the rain is to be recommended. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

        Rik

        Comment


        • #5
          Rik: Thanks so much for the report on your European trip. Some particularly interesting points:

          -- Simplicity as a motivation for nudism. While it makes sense to nudists, and is one of my motivations, I think that most non-nudists would not make this connection.

          -- Nudism and friendliness go hand in hand. In the past, the friendliness of nudists has been attributed to their being more open about themselves and/or feeling a kinship with others who have entered the world o' nudism. But maybe nudism and friendliness are encoded on the same gene.

          Gary

          Comment


          • #6
            Welcome back Rik. I have also been wondering where you were. Sounds like a great trip.

            Gary, I think you may have something there.

            Comment


            • #7
              I wonder why it is that America is so rigid about nudity as compared to Europe. I mean, many Americans are descendents of Europeans, and America is composed of many different nationalities. So I wonder . . .

              I also think that nudist tend to be more relaxed because we are not trying to hide in clothing. We are not "dressing a part" - like an actor who dones on a costume and assumes a role on the stage. We have learned how to be comfortable with ourselves, with how we look, and this helps us when meeting other people because we are relaxed.

              Comment


              • #8
                quote:
                Originally posted by skyclad85:
                [qb] I wonder why it is that America is so rigid about nudity as compared to Europe. I mean, many Americans are descendents of Europeans, and America is composed of many different nationalities.[/qb]
                Without wishing to appear xenophobic what concerns me is that Europeans are, in many ways, becoming Americanized and there is evidence that European attitude towards nudity is following this trend.

                This is probably more so in the UK than mainland Europe possibly because American culture is more easily assimilated due to the shared language.

                In my view (and I'd welcome any challenge on this because I'm not really sure) the increasing promotion of sex through fashion, media, advertising, celebrity and, of course, pornography (particularly soft pornography) is creating a culture where image is more important than substance and where youthfull sexuality is the aspiration of everyone - including those for whom youthfull anything is a distant memory. The complete removal of clothes means that people have no means of even attempting to live up to these cultural aspirations. I have heard people say, for example, that they don't like nudity because it "removes the mystique" or "leaves nothing to the imagination" - in other words it reduces their ability to be a sexual tease.

                On the one hand I welcome a greater openess about sex but on the other I feel that this very openess is pushing us further away from widespread acceptance of naturism.

                I suspect that all this applies more strongly in the US than the UK but we often say that what happens in America today will happen in Britain tomorrow and - I might add - in Europe the day after!

                Rik

                Comment


                • #9
                  Rik,

                  Some very good points.

                  As much as I'd like to see the overt sexuality in the advertising and entertainment media toned down, there's one simple truth: Sex will stop selling when people quit buying, and I doubt that will happen any time soon. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] About the only thing an individual can do is choose not to buy. A choice I make regularly.

                  As for clothes being used to indicate status, even in soceities where clothes are not the norm, some body ornamentation is used to indicate status. Humans are territorial animals, and unlike other animals, we've added abstract concepts to list of things to be territorial about. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] I doubt that will go away either.

                  An interesting observation on hypocrisy. Those groups and individuals who loudly lecture about greed, avarice, and the love of material objects being at the roots of all things bad, are also the same people who loudly protest that nudity is also bad, bad, bad. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] Those people also really, really don't like it, when their hypocrisy is pointed out to them. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif[/img]

                  I don't know what to do to counteract the societal forces you've mentioned. If naturist organizations had the resources to compete with agencies of commerce in the mainstream media to offset these messages, wouldn't they be doing it? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img] We're talking billyuns and billyuns of dollars. When money is talking....

                  Doug H.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Doug & Rik -

                    Your posts regarding the selling of sex and the hypocrisy of some people got the wheels of my mind turning.

                    In a way I find it really strange that nudism is not legally acceptable yet. Celebrity nudity is accepted - no one brings Cher up on any decency charges, or Madonna or a pile of other celebrities that have appeared in various stages of 'undress'. And most often, the celebrities purpose *is* to sell themselves, to sell their sexually.

                    Then us nudist come along, minding our own business and not intending anything lude or rude or crude by our practices, and the world complains! Makes no sense to me, really. If nudity is so terrible, then why is it tolerated from the Hollywood crowd? Could it be that it's a money maker?? Is the law influenced by the dollar? And if its OK for celebrities, who *are* selling themselves, then I don't see why it is so wrong for us who aren't doing anything wrong.

                    And what about nude photography? Or paintings of nudes? Isn't that considered an art form? Are artists and photographers brought up on some type of charges? Are the models who pose for them? I think our culture really needs to use some consistency of thought here.

                    It's a real shame if Europe is starting to adopt American views on nudism. I had hoped that it would be the other way around - that European views would influence American culture.

                    Oh, well. . . . .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      skyclad85...This subject was explored a while back and someone ,I dont remember who,gave the theory that the huge dollar porn industry...was to blame...to make it short..If nudity became respectable ...no one would buy their porn...Wh at do you think? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] ODB

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Skyclad, you posted:

                        Then us nudist come along, minding our own business and not intending anything lude or rude or crude by our practices, and the world complains!

                        Where did that come from?? What do you mean - 'the world complains'?? I sense you are trying to purvey the view that all naturists are downtrodded, totally misunderstood creatures, seen as existing on some other planet by everyone else.

                        Well, that's not the case at all, so why the over dramatisation - just for effect or to get some feedback with others agreeing with you how awful the situation is?? I can't believe you really think the 'world' is against naturism - so why say what you did??

                        When both sides - naturists and the wider population - can realise that the situation is not black and white (ie. not total acceptance or total unacceptance)then the path to progress will be a little easier.

                        Max

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Outdoorbare,

                          There's more to porn than nudity so I don't think it would ever get to a position where no-one would buy it but I feel fairly certain that the proportion of naturists that need to use porn is significantly less than the population at large.

                          As a naturist I find myself getting more and more turned off at the sight of sexual images particularly when used to sell products or newspapers. Not because I don't like sex but because it feels like I'm being manipulated by the people that peddle this stuff.

                          Rik

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            outdoorbare -

                            If nudity was "respectable", as you say, I think the porn industry would still be around. People who look at porn would no doubt be very disappointed if all they saw were a bunch of nude bodies walking around, sunning themselves on the beach, eating meals, going for a swim. . .

                            The porn watcher likes nudity, sure, but there is a lot more to porn then nudity. It's the sexual behavior that also interests the porn watcher. A fully clothed man or woman can behave in a very sexually explicit way. You don't need your clothes off to be suggestive or downright crude.

                            Since I don't equate porn in anyway with nudity, I treat them as different issues. Porn = behavior, nudity = naturalism.

                            I also think that nudity to some degree is acceptable/respectable (outside of the nudist community that is). Nude photography (minus the porn stuff) is treated as a form of art, as well as the numerous paintings of nudes I have seen. Many sculptures depict nudes.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If you accept soceity-at-large's premise that nudity equals sex, then neither the adult entertainment (what a euphemism!) industry nor the advertising industry would probably want that connection broken. Selling sex is just too easy compared to thinking up a genuinely original way to market yourself or your product(s). Therefore, it follows that they would feel threatened by socially acceptable nonsexual nudity.

                              As for nudity in the art and entertainment worlds, there has always been a dichotomy of what acceptable in "fantasy land" and not in "the real world". Even in the Victorian age, there is significant evidence of this. Another of Western soceity's great paradoxes.

                              And as for the question "Does money influence the law?", I refer the adage that people who like sausage and respect the law should not watch either one being made. Even if genuine bribery and political gifts were to be completely eliminated, an effective campaign for public office is not cheap, and candidates need donations to their campaign funds to put up a credible contest. Don't think that significant contributions from big contributors get forgotten when it's time to say "yay" or "nay".

                              Don't get me wrong, I like being human and I like being an American, but if aliens are watching us, they probably think that some of what we consider serious moments to be grand comedy!

                              Doug H.

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