And from the, “OMFG” department comes this information, via press release: The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) “encourages wholesome family nude recreation [“Nakations”] in appropriate settings such as designated nude beaches and AANR-member resorts, or around the home. Experts have attested that children raised in a social nudist environment grow up with a stronger sense of self-esteem, free of many of the body image issues that trouble the average textile youth.”
I’m most disturbed by the terms, “textile youth” and “Nakation.” I’m not going to touch those with a ten-foot…never mind. Why I’m so skeeved out by the naked family vacay thing is a bit more convoluted. I like to think that I’m pretty open-minded, and it’s true we’ve become a nation of body dysmorphic, eating-disordered freaks…when we’re not morbidly obese, that is.
I have no problem going topless on European beaches, and have often bemoaned the puritanical leanings of Americans when it comes to censorship with regard to nudity on television and in magazines. I just feel that it’s potential fodder for a therapist’s couch when children and their parents frolic about sans textiles after the toddler stage has passed; I also believe that public nudity past toddler-hood is something that should only be done by consenting adults.
I’ve been to a nude beach twice. Maybe it’s because I didn’t holiday in the buff with my family (my eyes, my eyes!) as a child, but I can tell you two things my nude sunbathing didn’t accomplish: providing me with a stronger sense of self-esteem, and freeing me of the body image issues that have troubled me ever since I was an average, deprived textiled youth.It could have something to do with the fact that the first time I went, it was with an exhibitionist Australian boyfriend who was a professional athlete. It was (as we discovered) a gay beach, meaning most of the men were totally ripped. I’d also been on a month-long food writing assignment, so I wasn’t feeling very good about my body. And I was covered – literally – with mosquito bites I’d gotten several days prior on a camping trip. This included my ass, because…let’s just say that women have a tougher time peeing in the great outdoors than men.
So, I wasn’t exactly feeling empowered about this experience, but I forced myself to do it. Just so I could say my boyfriend and I went to a gay nude beach in Australia. The second time, I was by myself in Santa Cruz and it was all good until some freak threw his towel down three inches away from my toes. I haven’t taken my clothes off in a public place in broad daylight since.
Clearly, I’m the one with the issues, because according to the AANR, the “2011 Portrait of the American Traveler tells us that at least 53 million people are interested in visiting nudist resorts or nude beaches. This confirms the increasing public understanding that family nudity is wholesome, natural and comfortable after the first daunting but liberating plunge.”
I guess the issue really comes down to, “Is this behavior hurting anyone?” and that’s open to debate. Personally, I’m not too cool with kids being, uh, exposed to naked strangers. I agree that teaching children to have a healthy sense of esteem about their bodies is important (as important, say, as feeding them a well-balanced, nutritious diet and encouraging them to be physically active and play outdoors), but I think there are plenty of ways to learn that without going on Nakations. Or, for the cash-strapped family, “Staycation Nakations.”
One thing I will say about clothing-optional travel: it saves money on baggage fees and laundry. The downside is explaining how you got melanoma.
[Photo credits, sunbather, Flickr user uppityrib; sign, Flickr user Sister 72]