Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is the AANR on our side?

The big news as of late is that the AANR (the American Association for Nude Recreation) has withdrawn from the INF (the International Naturist Federation). This really doesn't come as a big surprise to me, as I've had my questions about the AANR for some time. I'm probably not going to make a lot of friends with this post but it's important to me that the voice of naturism is doing us a good service, so let's take a look at what the AANR has been doing for us lately.

The AANR has always been presented to us as THE organization of nudism. They are the official voice of naturists and nudists, and they seem to have written the book on what is expected of such a lifestyle. AANR membership means you're a real nudist now, and a club or resort with an AANR affiliation is seen as a clean and wholesome place to practice clothes-freedom. When the media wishes to speak with nudists, they can speak to the AANR and get the official response to any pressing issues. Obviously this is a good thing, but lately I've wondered if the AANR is really on our side on some of the big issues that are important to us, and on some of the things that we need to help us gain popularity and acceptance among the general public.

First there's the battle of San Onofre beach. That was a fight that I joined, even though I live over 1300 miles away. I joined the fight because we are united as nudists, and we all need to fight to have our space to enjoy our lifestyle. California Parks removed the clothing-optional status of San Onofre after years of allowing people to safely enjoy nude recreation. So what did the AANR do when our lifestyle was threatened? Pretty much nothing. In an official statement, the AANR stated only that, "California Parks is stressing that this change in managing nudity in its parks is being limited to San Onofre." Wait a minute, seriously!? Our nude beach is being taken away, and as the official voice of nudists, you are only concerned that this is the only beach they are attacking? Thank goodness all our beaches aren't under attack, but how about you stop worrying about stepping on someone's toes and you promote the hell out of nudism and fight to keep San Onofre clothing-optional? Am I asking too much of the official organization of nudism?

Then there was the incident in Arizona in which a mother and stepfather were arrested for practicing nudism in their home around two young boys who said they were uncomfortable with it. As it turned out, the parents did not practice nudism in their home and the boys had only seen them in the nude by accident. Regardless, I find the AANR's statement to be a timid attempt to appease the public. "If a child seems uncomfortable, parents should let the child's views dictate their plans." Well this for one, is crap because kids would run the home if parents let children decide what's best for them. But the point really is that AANR is just trying to sound good, not trying to help nudism. This media incident makes nudism look like a shameful thing that should be practiced by adults behind closed doors, and the AANR did nothing to change that perception. I would have preferred they say something like this:
"While nudism is a healthy family lifestyle that promotes positive self body concept and encourages free thinking, it is important to accomodate all members of the family to ensure comfort in the household." That sentence pushes nudism while acknowledging that we're not a cult that forces nudity upon people. Why the heck can't the AANR come up with a statement like that? Maybe I should get a job as the voice of AANR.

Then there was the issue of the nude man making coffee in his kitchen one morning who was spotted by his neighbour. It was early in the morning, the man was in his own home, and instead of asking him to cover up or close the blinds, Police arrested him. Unbelievable, really. And what did the AANR do? Yes they commented on this issue, and they did it by labelling this guy as one of them and then calling him irresponsible. Wait a minute, who knows whether or not he is a nudist? Why the heck would the AANR again make us look bad by saying this guy is a nudist when they cannot possibly have the answer, and then blast him by saying he should have had the drapes closed. This story doesn't even have anything to do with the AANR, yet they decided to open their mouth and again make us look like shameful people who should hide from the public. Even if it is 5:30am and nobody should be looking into our windows.

Lately AANR has also been bombarded with reports of some of their affiliated clubs and resorts catering to swingers. AANR's denial of this information confirms that it does not support this behaviour, and yet it still supports these resorts. I don't even need to say any more about this, the writing is on the wall.

Oh and then of course there's the issue of the topfree section of the beach in Asbury Park, NJ. This was a bad idea from the start because it supports the concept that women's chests are different from men's, and thus they should only be revealed in a segregated area of beach. This topfree beach goes against everything nudists believe in by denying equality and promoting segregation. However, the AANR supported the idea!! Unbelievable! Are they just not doing their research, or are they just getting involved in all the wrong ways? They blast healthy nudity, and they promote negative nudity!

And my last rant is regarding this year's World Record Skinnydip attempt. This is a very special event because it is a chance for nudists to promote healthy nudity to the world in a fun and harmonizing way. And this is why I am stunned that the AANR did such a poor job of promoting the event this year. This event is our chance to bring healthy nude recreation to the masses, and the AANR went and blew it. The only reason I knew about it was because of the blogs and forums I'm on. None of these forums or blogs are seen by the general public, so it would seem the event was only promoted within our own nudist community. Unfortunately it would appear that AANR's blatant fail has hurt the cause too. I know attendance was down at my own Wreck Beach, along with a number of other resorts in the US. I don't know what this will do to the final count, but at this point it would appear that the AANR's lack of promoting this awesome event may have allowed the record to slip from our grasp this year. Seriously, one of the biggest mainstream nudist events and they let it slide on by.

I don't know how to wrap this post up other than by saying, "what the heck is the AANR doing these days?" I would like to say it's about time they stood up and fought for our rights, and promoted the crap out of the nudist lifestyle, but I think it's too late for that. Their withdrawal from the INF just tells me that I'm right in believing the AANR is following a path all it's own and has no interest in being a part of the greater naturist community. They continue to distance themselves from their fellow naturists, and ultimately the people they are supposed to represent and support.

Perhaps they are just trying to be diplomatic and not overstep boundaries. Unfortunately nothing ever changes if you don't say a few off-the-wall comments and push your cause hard, like you actually believe in it. They are acting like scared pansies who don't want to say the wrong thing, when in fact they should be telling the world that we are good people and the lifestyle is great. At this rate, nudists will always be labelled as outcasts, and the only time the public will hear about us is when someone gets in trouble, and then the negative image just gets reinforced. Come on AANR, the rest of us are breaking our backs pushing this thing to the masses, don't leave us alone in the cold.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I made a startling realization today, one that has been right in front of me ever since I started on this naturist journey, but one that I hadn't thought much about until today.

I work in the health care field, and that's the kind of job in which you see a lot of simple nudity during the course of a normal day. Helping patients change, assisting with medical procedures, nudity just happens. Since I have become a nudist, I don't even give it a second's thought. In fact I've noticed myself staring at times; not gawking at anyone, I was just simply in another world and not at all affected by the nude body in front of me. I'm so comfortable with nudity that I barely notice when someone else may have a problem with where I'm looking. I've chuckled at my own comfort level before, but today I noticed what it can be like for others who don't share my feelings.

I was to assist a patient in taking a shower, and I was alarmed by his bashfulness. He was so afraid of being nude that he tried to shower with his gown on. After that was removed for him, he kept his underwear on and showered that way. There were people in the room, but nobody else in the shower and nobody watching him. I guess I really take it for granted that I am unashamed and comfortable because this man's attitude towards simple nudity really impacted me. After all, this was a professional setting with trained health care professionals.

What I realized about this is that nudists and naturists don't only shed their clothing, but they also shed their shame. They are freed not only from the restriction of clothing but also from the feeling that their bodies are unsightly and need to be hidden. I spend a lot of time thinking about the benefits of naturism but I don't seem to pay much attention to how restrictive shame can be. I found it sad that this gentleman had such a hard time removing his clothing in front of professional nursing staff; he made it look like the hardest thing he ever had to do. I wouldn't have given it a thought, and what that means to me is freedom. The shift in my attitude towards nudity has blessed me with the freedom to not find my own body shameful, to not find other bodies shameful, and the freedom to be happy with myself and who I am regardless of where I am or who I am in front of. Think about that for a second. That freedom is priceless.

Shame can be so terribly suffocating. All you nudists out there ought to be thankful for the wonderful freedom you enjoy; not just freedom from clothing, but freedom to love yourself and not find it shameful. Your body is a wonderful blessing given to you and only you. Love it, find it beautiful, and feel no shame.