Sunday, February 07, 2010

Proud to Be Naturists - Doug and Amanda

Please tell us a little about how you became a nudist / naturist, and what advice you would have for others considering the lifestyle.

Doug: I had always thought that nudity was no big deal, but hardly ever went naked myself. After meeting Amanda, and living together, we both became true closet nudists. At that point I knew of Mazo Beach, but never attempted to go there.

It wasn't until a semester abroad as part of my Master's degree that I tried being nude outdoors. Australia has many nude beaches, and the perfect weather for them. One of my goals was to visit as many as I could. I was shy at first, and a bit frustrated, but eventually found the perfect opportunity to give it a try. (Read the full story starting here.) All-in-all, I loved it! After flying back to Wisconsin in December 2006, a trip to Mazo Beach was the highest priority! (I'll let Amanda tell that story.) Mazo proved to be just as good as the Australian beaches, and the water was much safer! That same year, Nudiarist inspired me to start my Academic Naturist blog. We also checked out Sun Ray Hills resort and VVRC's Nude Car Show. We were hooked!

As for advice: If you have the faintest idea about trying naturism, just do it! You'll absolutely love it (just like 99% of others who have tried it, including skeptical reporters) and it will change you're life for the better. The longer you hold out, the more you'll regret what you've been missing.

Amanda: I was just never comfortable wearing clothes. It's hard to find clothes that fit my body shape, and most are too constricting. Bras have never been comfortable, and I never wear them unless I'm required. Panties always ride up where they don't belong. That's why the idea of naturism was so appealing to me. Freedom from those horrible clothes!

Growing up, I would sometimes go naked after my parents went to bed. I'd dance around, or watch TV, or get a late night snack in the nude. One night at about 2 in the morning, flashing lights caught my attention. The building across the street is the fire department, and they had a call. The huge sliding glass door and bright living room lights meant there weren't any hiding spots. If anyone looked, they probably saw my frightened naked butt heading for my room!

Continuing the story that Doug started, Mazo Beach sounded scary because I thought everyone was going to ogle me. Nude beaches are full of dirty old men, right? Doug wanted to go, and it is clothing-optional so I wouldn't have to undress. I was hesitant to go, nervous for the 1.5 hour drive, and nervous down the 1.2 mile trail. When we arrived at the beach, I saw a bunch of naked men and a few women. It looked safe. My top was off as soon as I stepped onto the sand, and I was naked before Doug had the backpack off! In the race to undress, I always win!

For recommendations, make sure to go with a friend. They offer some protection from being approached by strange guys, and prevent the loneliness from going alone. If you don't have any friends to take with, join a group. You'll quickly make friends in the group. It's easy to make friends as a naturist.

Have you told family, co-workers and/or friends about the fact that you enjoy nudism / naturism, and what have been their reactions? Have you convinced anyone else to join you at a naturist event or venue?

Doug: I told my best friends from college a few years after we all graduated, and they didn't care. They all knew that I had no problem with nudity. I told my mom, who was born and raised in Germany until her teenage years. Once it was clear that we weren't swingers, she didn't care. She eventually told my dad, and he didn't care. One of my more prudish Aunts visited last summer, and I told her. She couldn't believe it! But before too long, she didn't care and just laughed about it. My parents even helped me out by saying it's no big deal and that it's helped my body confidence. I haven't yet told my grandparents, but I expect that they wouldn't care. I have a different Aunt who has been openly gay as far back as I can remember, so I think that makes it easier for my family to accept that I'm a naturist.

Coworkers don't know yet either and I've been entertaining myself with that. I have generic answers for most of their questions, and they never seem to care about digging in further. For example, I went to Eastover for the Eastern Naturist Gathering. My first day back to work, I was wearing my Eastover sweatshirt. "Where did you go for you're vacation?" "Oh, out East." "Sounds like fun!" And that's it. A similar thing happens for weekend trips. I'm curious about how many clues I can lay before someone finally figures it out or persistently asks the right questions.

I haven't convinced anyone to go with us to the beach, but Amanda has a few potentials.

Amanda: Yes, yes, and yes! My mom said not to tell my dad. (He's probably the only close family member that doesn't know.) My cousin kicked me out of her place when I told her. She's a Christian and didn't want to "deal with that sort of thing in her house". Never mind that she was living with a gay woman at the time. I've told all of my friends and coworkers. One thought it was a swinger thing, until I corrected her. One has the naturist mindset, but hasn't tried social nudity yet. Most get the wide eyes and open mouths look initially. Is it really that hard to believe I'm a naturist?

I haven't brought a friend to Mazo yet, but all have an open invitation. An older lady I work with is German, and loves the idea of going skinny-dipping again. We bought her a TNS membership and she loves it. When schedules cooperate she's more than willing to ride with to the beach.

One of the greatest challenges to nudism / naturism today is the aging population at parks and camps. Have you any ideas or advice on how venues and clubs can attract younger people?

Doug: First, read everything Morley Schloss has written on that subject. He really "gets it" and has experience in successfully recruiting the younger generations into naturism. Second is to make it cheap and/or fun. College-age people frequent Mazo Beach because it's free, and many frequent the VVRC Nude Car Show and the Badger Naturist Halloween Party because they're fun.

Amanda: I agree with Doug. Offer discounts for younger people, and make sure there are fun events going on that target the younger crowd.

Do you belong to a nudist / naturist organization? What advice would you give your organization in order to improve and expand membership?

Doug: We are both Area Reps for NAC and members of TNS, Badger Naturists, and Friends of Mazo Beach. We are active in all of these -- helping out NAC by watching public notices, writing articles for TNS, helping BN with their parties, and helping FOMB with the Nude Olympics and road cleanups. The advice that I'd give TNS is to get their name out. Most news stories have AANR in them, and thus most new members are probably contacting them first. TNS needs to get their name in the news (which is nearly free), get involved with non-naturist events involving nudity (cheap), and advertise in non-naturist mediums (expensive). They need to have fund-raising activities, and they should look beyond the naturist community for money. Before all that, they need to look professional when an interested party attempts to contact them. Revise the website, prioritize email correspondence, and outsource newbie questions (and any other tasks) to volunteers.

I can't just pick on the organizations though. A lot of naturists expect the organizations to do everything for them and to do it to their liking, which is an attitude that eventually ends up with them dropping membership for some small reason. The thing I like most about TNS is that they are very member-driven. Once you jump the hurdle into their "naturist family", it's easy to bounce ideas off the ones in charge, or pioneer the way for something new. Instead of merely complaining about an organization, why not become active and push for change?

A similar thing can be said about the local organizations. Most are a core group of friends. They need to be less introverted, and in return naturists need to join them and get involved.

What are your favorite sources for nudist / naturist news and information?

Doug: The best summary of news comes from Nudiarist's blog and shared feed. I'm also subscribed to a lot of other bloggers' RSS feeds. What's my favorite source for information? I can only answer: The Internet!

Amanda: Doug, and N magazine.

Nudists / naturists have always struggled with misconceptions by the general public that the lifestyle is sexual in nature. How would you deal with the increasing involvement with "swingers" into the lifestyle, coupled with the decrease of families and children? Do you think it's possible for nudism / naturism to survive as a family-friendly recreation in a society so consumed in pornography and sex?

Doug: The problem is that anyone with bad behavior ("swingers") tends to chase away the kids. If parents go to a resort and see/hear anything they don't want their children exposed to, they won't bring them. The odds are in favor of the swingers. How would I deal with it, if I had a resort? Make a game of it to even the odds. Like DEF CON's "Spot The Fed" game, I'd give a discount to the family of any child which successfully spots a swinger, and make the swinger wear a "swinger" t-shirt for the rest of the day. That should even things up a bit -- swingers will control their behavior better to fit in with other naturists, and parents will bring kids for the possibility of a discount. For family-friendly naturism to thrive, we need to do more to encourage it.

Amanda: Swingers need to be reminded of the rules when they get dangerously close to breaking them. Family-friendly naturism can survive if society gets their heads out of their asses. Americans always assume the worst. This can be seen in any news broadcast, and in any reaction to something they don't understand. People need to stop assuming the worst and living in fear, and start looking for the good things in life.

Are you involved in any body-freedom activism, such as nude protests, the World Naked Bike Ride, etc.? Are you ever nude when other people are clothed, such as working as an artist's model?

Doug: Amanda and I went to the GoTopless protest in Chicago last year, and may go back for more. We haven't been to a WNBR event yet, but probably will. There aren't any other big events in the area. As for being naked around mostly clothed people -- we've done that too. They were at least similar-minded and didn't care about our nudity. We're open to being models as well, but haven't yet except for at the Eastern Naturist Gathering where everyone was also naked.

Technology has given teens and adults the means to upload and share nude photos of themselves. Do you think that this phenomenon will have positive or negative ramifications for nudism / naturism in the long run?

Doug: It's an interesting fight, but I think it'll work to our advantage. Think of who is currently a naturist. We've met a lot of naturists who's careers include medical stuff, photography, art, etc. All have had some exposure to naked bodies prior to becoming a naturist. Also in a geographic sense, there are a lot of naturists in areas of free beaches, especially out west. There is a lot of exposure to nudity in those areas.

Also consider what happens as people gain exposure to nudity. The best summary I've seen is a Burning Man participant's epiphany. I believe that as kids trade and view nude pictures, nudity will be less shocking and will become no big deal. (As a side-effect, they'll have better judgment on who is truly a pervert and should be avoided or reported.)

On the flip-side are those who think even a topless girl will wreck kids' lives, and thus wreck kids' lives by making them criminals. Eventually society will need to move on. We all know the kids (and adults) aren't going to stop, and technology will only make it more ubiquitous!

Amanda: I don't really know how to answer this one. I'm hoping it turns out good!

Has being a nudist / naturist made you more respectful of your body and environment? Do you try and live a more healthy lifestyle as a result of being nude?

Doug: I wasn't an outdoor type of person until I was a naturist. I enjoy camping now because of my overnight camping trip to a nude beach in Australia. Naturism brought forth a whole new connection with nature. I suppose it helps promote a healthy lifestyle too, since I like freehiking quiet trails and have a brisk hike to the beach. Amanda gets this exercise too, and also enjoys the outdoors more when naked.

Naturism has helped with body issues as well. My chest is different than most, and I never liked taking my t-shirt off because I was embarrassed by it. After going naked socially, I have no problem removing my shirt. My parents have noticed this change and are happy about it.

Amanda: I'm not as embarrassed about my body. I used to think my body was horrible, and that I'd have to be a supermodel just to live my life. Now, I just think that I should lose a few pounds. Naturism has certainly made me feel more comfortable about my body.

I'm also more comfortable around our naked friends. Textile friends from high school I still feel a little uncomfortable around because it's harder to trust them. Naked people have nothing to hide and I find them more trustworthy and honest.

Please take this opportunity to add anything else you would like to say about yourself or the nudist / naturist lifestyle.

Doug: Perhaps a little more about both of us. I do engineering work at a great little company in Southwest Wisconsin. Amanda works various jobs in the medical industry. We've been together for almost 7 years, but haven't gotten married yet. She's a little religious, and I'm not at all. We rent a nice apartment in town but are hoping to expand to a few rural acres of our own this year. We spend our spring freehiking, visit a few naturist campgrounds during the summer, fill some weekends with Mazo Beach, hit all the hotel parties we can during the winter, make a few trips to sauna with friends, and invite friends over for classic naturist movies on the big screen.

Amanda and I go well together in naturism. I'm an encyclopedia of random knowledge and can hold a decent conversation with just about anyone, but tend not to approach new people. Amanda loves approaching new people, and kick-starting conversations and fun activities. She's also much better at remembering everyone we meet.

Naturism offers a whole new connection with nature, and with other people. Naturists respect the environment more, and they have a more realistic view of humanity. We both believe that naturism is a positive influence for society and that the idea should spread. We're doing what we can to make that happen.

Follow Doug on his blog The Academic Naturist
Amanda is on Twitter here, and Doug here.

(This is the second of what I hope will be a series of profiles on real nudists and naturists. If you are interested in being profiled here, please drop me a message to and we'll talk about it.)

1 comment:

Rick said...

Great interview. Enjoyed reading it.