Bare Me: Public Nudity Rocks!

Across the country, buds are blossoming, bees are buzzing, and everyone is enjoying blissful summer days spent enjoying the great outdoors. But too often, in our congested cities and technology-focused lives, it can be difficult to really get in touch with nature. For those looking for a great way to unplug from cell phones and email and reconnect with nature (and yourself) we have a solution: Bare it all!

Clothing-optional and clothes-free campgrounds and RV parks across the United States offer a way to escape the craziness of the city and return to nature, on many different levels. Think about the possibilities of a nude camping experience: If you are not wearing any clothes then you have nowhere to put your cell phone…a true vacation. Going for a skinny dip in the nearby streams is sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. And just imagine falling asleep—in the nude—listening to the sounds of nature as you gaze up at a star-studded sky.

The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) is the largest and most respected organization of its kind. It is the authority on nude recreation and family social nudism, and has been since 1931. The popularity of public, recreational nudity has only grown since the organization’s inception. From “Dare Bare” 5Ks to nude volleyball tournaments to the seemingly limitless amount of nude bicycle races and rides, organized recreational nudity is enjoying a heyday. The possibilities are endless: try nude Frisbee golf, gardening, petanque, tennis, kayaking, bowling, and jazzercise!

Think nudism is un-American?  Think again. In one survey, we found that one in five Americans have skinny-dipped at one time or another. Benjamin Franklin himself was fond of taking daily “air baths” sitting nude for an hour or so while he read or wrote. Others known to have enjoyed skinny-dipping or other recreational nude activities include John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau. In popular culture, Helen Mirren, Drew Barrymore, Alanis Morissette, Elle McPherson, Alicia Silverstone, Woody Harrelson, Heidi Klum, and many others have indicated that they too enjoy shedding their clothes.

It is widely accepted that sunlight counteracts the effects of the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder. Studies indicate your body needs at least 20 minutes a day of sunshine to help prevent a vitamin D deficiency – one notable side effect of which is depression. Those who routinely enjoy the benefits of a daily exercise in the buff are on a steady course for healthy living.

Carolyn Hawkins is a member of the American Association for Nude Recreation.

Spare Me: Public Nudity Sucks! 

My mother used to tell me, “Don’t ever say anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear.” Which, of course, I took to mean don’t do anything of that nature either. And while none of us is perfect, I’d like to think Grandma would be pretty damn proud of the life I’ve lived thus far: one of steadfast dedication, unwavering morals, charitable selflessness, and walking around clothed. All the time.

Let’s be honest people: we’re not cavemen. Hell, cavemen didn’t even walk around naked. I think we can all agree that freedom is a great thing. But do we need to be so free that we look like a bunch of idiots with our junk hanging out? Humans are a naturally defenseless, vulnerable lot, and walking around naked only exacerbates the condition. Besides looking silly, think of all the hazards of an active nude lifestyle. Do you really want to expose your most sensitive areas to the blazing sun, piercing brambles, and jagged rocks that you are bound to encounter on the trail or at the beach?

Evolutionary misfortunes aside, society has rules. Rules that allow it to function in a (somewhat) operative manner. Public displays of nudity can be distracting, rude, and in some cases, downright illegal. Think about the rest of us, who don’t need to “let it all hang out,” who just want to live and work peacefully and walk down the street, hike the Art Loeb, or go to yoga class without being assaulted by the sight of your sex organs waving in the wind. You could be responsible for traumatizing legions of sheltered children who don’t need to see your hairy, wrinkled parts up close and personal. That’s scary enough between consenting adults.

Why don’t we bare it all? Blame it on “societal conditioning,” or call us uptight if you must, but maybe we just don’t need the attention. We get enough of it from the IRS, city utilities, and the bank. Questioning those authorities is all well and good. But you can go against the grain by biking to work or marching against Monsanto downtown – and you don’t need to do it naked.

So next time you and your attention-deprived significant other conjure up the idea for another nudie adventure, ask yourselves, “What is the deeper psychological motivation I feel here? Why do I have to resort to such an extreme act to receive the attention I crave? Is it really necessary to perturb and perhaps offend my fellow human beings?” Then make sure to take your eyes off his/her junk while you answer.

Keep your pants on and your grandmother from rolling over in her grave.

Evans Prater is a journalist and triathlete living in Asheville, N.C. He blogs at