Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Naturist Society Head Likens Nudist Resorts to "Calcified Retirement Homes"

Nudists/naturists are notoriously inept at public relations.

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, Nicky Hoffman Lee, co-owner of The Naturist Society, made the following comments about the state of organized nudism today:
"The whole lifestyle will just disappear unless we attract a younger crowd," said Nicky Hoffman, head of the Naturist Society, one of the two big organizations of U.S. nudists. "The problem is, most of these resorts aren't geared to young people. They've become like retirement homes; they've sort of calcified."
Nicky, Nicky, what on earth were you thinking? Your ill-advised comments are now the centerpiece of an article which skewers nudists and naturists, painting them as basically dirty old men that are best to be avoided.
John Whitehead, 22, visited the Sunsport Gardens resort for the first time last year. He enjoyed being naked until he spotted a man his father's age he knew from work, then spent the day avoiding him."It's not that I have anything against old people," Mr. Whitehead said. "I just don't really want to hang out with them at the pool."
The article is a disaster, outlining the history of nudism as a series of arrests and beatings, and defining nude recreation as "undressing in front of strangers". Even worse, the Spring Break Bash at Sunsport Gardens organized by Florida Young Naturists is painted as a segregated event to avoid turning the younger people into "eye candy" for older people.

This story has gone viral and has appeared on many prominent blogs and does real damage to the image of naturists and nudists everywhere. From Jezebel:
If people of all ages can't come together to enjoy the freedom of standing around and feeling cold and slightly awkward, perhaps it's time to accept that the younger generation's interest in public nudity is mostly limited to occasional bouts of drunken toplessness.
The Village Voice even proclaims that "people should just wear clothes."

The Miami New Times reports:
That Spring Break Bash, held at a resort on the edge of the Everglades, only attracted 55 people, and the group's Facebook page keeps getting shut down because it's tricky to run a group with both "young" and "nude" in the title.
But if you really want to lose your lunch, read the comments section of the Wall Street Journal article, where Robbe White of the Florida Young Naturists adds his two cents:
Great article. Thank You WSJ and Doug Belkin for shedding some light on the nudist/naturist community. Check out our website: http://www.FYNude.org 
Great article? Really? Just because you got your name in print?

John Whitehead claims that his comments were twisted out of context, which is not a surprise considering the state of journalism today.
I am the John Whitehead mentioned in the article of all the things I said, they mention me seeing a guy from my work who I avoided the first time because he knows my dad. They seemed to leave out that I talked with him about it later on and then he said "Don't worry I won't say anything". Not only that but my second quote was explaining why I never went prior to the FYN event and I was saying I was glad about FYN because I could be around people my own age. I think they made me sound like kind of a jerk...I talked to the journalist for around 30 minutes. I said all kinds of things. Why of all things things that I said would you mention that I saw a guy from work. I casually mentioned that. I mostly talked about how great the event was and how I met a bunch or friendly and interesting people. Why couldn't you mention that WSJ?
The comments are filled with loathing for nudists in general, and Susan Weaver, President of The American Association for Nude Recreation, is smart enough to realize the negativity of the article.
It is unfortunate that this article makes a generalized statement about nudist clubs, campgrounds and resorts. Among the 267 that are affiliated with AANR, there is tremendous diversity. I have found them to be enormously relaxing and fun, and there has never been any criticism of my own body jewelry. The people I have met at AANR clubs are interesting people, much traveled, with fascinating hobbies and histories. The aanr.com website is much visited by people of all ages looking to discover where there is a club nearby to visit.
AANR has worked for 80 years to promote and protect nude recreation, and will continue to advocate for the rights of nudists for as many years as it takes to assure public awareness and acceptance of social family nude recreation as a joyful life experience.
Thank you, Susan, for showing some class in the middle of a disaster. There's not too much to salvage from this train wreck of epic proportions.

UPDATE: Time Magazine agrees with me that Nicky's comments were a total gaffe.
"The whole lifestyle will just disappear unless we attract a younger crowd," Nicky Hoffman, head of the Naturist Society, recently told the Wall Street Journal. "The problem is, most of these resorts aren't geared to young people. They've become like retirement homes; they've sort of calcified."'
With statements like that, we can see why young, vibrant Americans aren't clamoring to join ranks and take their clothes off.
Nicky needs to apologize for her disparaging remarks, or at the very least, she should explain that she was misquoted, or taken out of context.


Elton said...

You know, I don't know how they are going to attract young(er) people. It may take Science more than advertising.

Rick said...

I agree, a PR nightmare. I once thought that our national organizations should provide clubs with guidance for talking to the press but, apparently, they need it just as much. We shouldn't sugar-coat nudism but we still need to focus on the positive aspects and downplay the problems when we talk to the public.

"Undressing in front of strangers" isn't nudism. It's about enjoying a clothes-free lifestyle in the company of like-minded people, some of them friends you haven't yet met.

Anna said...

I only removed my last comment because I found some typos but basically this is what I typed in my last comment.

What do you think of this Time Magazine article?



It was from 1971. BACK IN 1971 they were saying that nudism was on the verge of dying out because most nudists were old!

This whole "old" thing should be a non-issue especially with life expectancy increasing like it is.

But instead certain people within the nudist community had to get all hot and bothered about it even though it has been that way for years. But now the bad press over this issue might be something that will be hard for nudism to recover from.

Nudiarist said...

2011 is different than 1971 because today AANR and TNS actually are bleeding members at an alarming rate. Nude recreation is booming, but the organizations are dying. It's primarily due to the Internet, where people can find resorts and book vacations without belonging to any actual organizations.

Nudism is not dying, just AANR and TNS. I will have lots to say on this, so stay tuned.

Academic Naturist said...

I'm not sure I'd call this a "train wreck of epic proportions". It's certainly not perfect, but I didn't think it was too bad.

Everyone who goes to resorts knows that young people are a minority. The common stereotype from textiles isn't much different -- just old naked people.

Nicky states the obvious. The theme of the article basically says "We acknowledge that resorts aren't commonly geared toward younger people, but young people would enjoy these new events and groups."

As a young person, the suggestions intrigue me. I'd love to check out some of those events. They sound different (better) than my previous experiences at the local resorts. This article comes at a great time since many are planning out their summer activities.

I don't think older people will stop going to the resorts due to this article. If older people are curious about naturism, they'll be happy to know they'll be in like company. ("Calcified" is a bad choice in words by Nicky.)

The article may accomplish two important things: 1. Steer a nationwide audience of curious young people to the new events. 2. Put pressure on the resorts to gear towards younger people.

I can think of much worse articles over the past year or two. Is this one really that bad?

Nudiarist said...


Yes, it's that bad.

Imagine if the CEO of Ford Motor Company referred to the company's line of cars as "calcified" with appeal only to people in retirement homes.

The board would have his or her head on a platter.

The article portrays nudists as aging voyeurs with a history of arrests and beatings. Nudism is described as "undressing in front of strangers". Young people segregate themselves in order to avoid being "eye candy" for old men.

Perhaps you are reading a different article than I am.

naturist said...

How irresponsible to put your unfounded remarks in print without checking with the person who was the brunt of your attack first! Publicity nightmare? I can't even BEGIN to tell you about some gaffes made by supposedly media-savvy naturist "spokespeople."

Nudiarist said...

These are not "unfounded" remarks, they are printed in the Wall Street Journal. Please keep me informed of any libel lawsuits, or retractions, otherwise the remarks are clearly "on the record".

naturist said...

I repeat, UNFOUNDED! The Wall Street Journal is not and has never been the "go to" publication for naturism. The fact remains that you pounced on this without so much as an e-mail or phone call to Nicky. Shame on you!

Nudiarist said...

Nicky's comment is "on the record" until proven otherwise, either in court, or through a retraction in the Wall Street Journal. The anger should be directed at the WSJ, not me. FYI, Time Magazine has now picked up Nicky's quote from the WSJ, so literally millions of people are now reading it.

dariowestern said...

Attracting younger people to nudism is easy: stop being so formalised and PC about the lifestyle.
Young people have got different values and interests to the baby boomers.
This is the age of the raging hormones, where they are developing sexually and the only time that they want to go nude with others is if there is some sexual promise in it. Why else would they be interested?
Plus, the old 'rustic holiday campgrounds' no longer appeal to the young. They like places which are glitzy and upmarket. Spend some money on upgrading your club and reinventing your image if you want to attract the young.

Nicky said...

This is why a lot of Nudist resorts don't cater to younger generation and as a result, Nudist resorts in America right now are heading to extinction unless they do something to reverse the decay in nudism.

Nudist clubs need to get their heads out of the sand and start reinventing their clubs to meet the needs of the next generation of nudist. They need to find ways to draw younger members in their clubs and find activities that will get younger members interested in Nudism.

In other words, nudist clubs and resorts need evolve or got extinct.

Christopher K. Finnegan said...

Dario and Nicky are spot on about their comments regarding the younger generation and their interest in nudism. They just won't come unless they cum! Sorry, just had to go there.

Young people live for sex these days and unless nudist facilities find a way to adapt to this new reality they will go extinct over time naturally.

We can all have our sun, fun and enjoy it too. All it takes is some progressive thinking and decisive action. Adapt or die?