Nudist Reality vs. Cancelled Calgary Nude Swimming Event

It’s 2018 and the community that wears a swimsuit in the pool or ocean has a long way to go to understand the nudist lifestyle and values  Recently the city of Calgary cancelled a nude swimming event planned for an indoor swimming/recreation facility sponsored by the group Calgary Nude Recreation. This wasn’t the first time a nudist group had rented a city of Calgary owned facility for an event and it won’t be the last either. Unfortunately this time, public outcry and threats of violence pushed city officials to cancel the event. An online petition supported by more than 22,000 people framed the argument against the event stating the following concerns:

“I respect the concept and believe in an 18+ setting it could be a popular event. However, having naked children around a bunch of naked adults doesnt seem like a good idea for any reason. Realistically there is alot of mental illness out there that this event could trigger/effect.

– Children with previous sexual abuse traumas will be heavily effected if they attend the event.

– Sexual predators will be on the prowl – having an event like that is just like Christmas to them.

– Extremely high chance of photos and videos being taken without consent, considered child pornography”

Oddly the event was cancelled not because the city had issue with nudity at a city owned facility but because of threats of violence against participants and organizers. Let’s get violent to protect children?

To me, the outcry about this event and the stated objectives demonstrate the misinformation and misdirected concerns from individuals who have probably never attended a nude/clothing optional event or facility. It’s reading about this petition that makes me believe that nudists really are the enlightened ones. The nudist community understands firsthand the importance of protecting children from sexual predators as well as maintaining privacy.

For the record, both the clothed and nudist communities agree that protecting children from sexual predators is most important. Everyone’s priorities are inline and where they should be on this. Just as important to the nudist community is ensuring that no photography of any kind is taken of anyone nude – adults or childern. And finally, no displays of sexual intimacy or sexual touching in anyway.

Anyone who has read our blog knows it is focused on helping couples learn more about exploring the benefits of social nudity and nude recreation. As we’ve stated many times, nudity does not mean sex. For those who have never been to a nude beach, resort or B&B, walking around with other naked people might seem like an erotic and sexually charged environment. In reality, it’s anything but that.

There is a time and a place for sexual intimacy and that’s in the privacy of your own home and not in the open…. ever. This is a point that every nudist I’ve ever met believes and values. Every nudist resort and club I’ve attended has rules similar to those from the Calgary Nude Recreation organization.

From our experiences regardless if it’s a nude beach or nudist club, everyone there watches and protects the children there very closely. The nudist clubs my wife and I attend require everyone to submit to a background check to root out sexual offenders before they ever enter and yes, our local club confirmed to me that they bar entry to people every year. In addition, everyone who visits must leave their mobile phone/camera in the car. No exceptions. Privacy and protection are important and essential in a nude environment.

Yes there are sexual predators out there and I’m sure there are some in the nudist community too. Unlike in the general community though, safeguards are in place to ensure these deviants are identified. The reality is that nudists are very aware of their vulnerable state and that of unknowing or unprotected children and adults. We don’t need the concerned citizens of Calgary or anyone else to tell us how to protect our children and ourselves.

For me and my wife, our  nudist lifestyle is about freedom. Freedom from judgement and/or body shaming. Freedom from clothing and labeling who I am and what I believe just by the clothing and “brands” I wear. Freedom to be one with nature and our surroundings. Freedom from stress. Free to be happy with ourselves and our friends and family. It’s a feeling you can only feel in a nude social setting.

I feel this freedom everytime I set foot into a nudist property or clothing optional beach. It starts the moment I take off my clothing and feel the warm of the sun on my body. Believe me, this is a freedom worth protecting and that includes watching out for vulnerable people among us.

While my wife and I are parents, we have never brought our children to a nudist property or a clothing optional beach. For us, it’s about our time together and less about entertaining them. It’s our special time although we often see children at the nudist clubs we attend and the clothing optional beaches we have visited.

Honestly, I never thought about sharing our love for nudism with our children until a few years ago. We were at a nudist club near our home. It was late afternoon on a hot July day and my wife and I were sitting by the pool reading and enjoying the sun. A young girl was practicing swimming underwater from her mother to her father. All were naked in the pool. This young couple and their daughter were repeating a scene I have seen many times throughout my life. Only this time, without any swimsuits. It was perfectly natural and honestly it was beautiful to see.

Une premiere by Anders Zorn (1888)
Anders Zorn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
While I respect the concerns from those who signed the petition against the nude swimming event, I don’t believe it would be a hunting ground for sexal preditors but rather a setting where families are safe and able to share time together, just without a swimming suit.

We have a long way to go to educate the reality of nudism and its benefits for all.

Our Bodies Tell Stories – How One Woman Embraced Her Life’s Journey through Nudism

The following is a guest blog from my friend Charlotte (named changed). I have been looking for a firsthand woman’s perspective on trying nudism. We are good friend with Charlotte and her husband Carlos and she very willingingly wrote the blog post below. She hits on so many questions that women (and couples) struggle with when considering social nudity. And more importantly, the benefits of it, especially when your spouse is sitting naked right next to you. I’m proud of her. What a great blog.  Let us know what you think.

Raised in the Midwest, I never thought ditching your clothes in public could be an enjoyable pastime. Truthfully, I was never aware it was even an option. I had no preconceived notions or expectations about nudism. Growing up, my father taught me respect of all living things and led by example, going so far as to set live mouse traps for mice that wandered into our horse feed storage. These values significantly helped foster the carefree attitude I live by today – ‘Live and let live.’

Though I don’t consider myself a true nudist, I particularly enjoy baring it all on vacation and when our time allows. Several times during the summer, my husband and I will visit local nudist clubs and enjoy socializing with the crowds that gather there. And later this month, we will be enjoying a nude first for us – renting a private Caribbean villa with another couple who loves to be naked as much as we do.

My first experience with nudism was rather spontaneous. My husband Carlos and I began dating midsummer several years ago, excitedly and hurriedly falling in love, which was a surprise and uncharacteristic of us both. He was a lifelong bachelor and me, a recent divorcee. The almost immediate sense of security and comfort we found within each other allowed us to communicate candidly about everything, from our political views to some of our deepest revelations.

One conversation that seemed so innocent at the time now strikes me as my first introduction to nudism. After travel plans to the sunny island of Saint Martin were in the works, Carlos asked if I would ever try nude sunbathing, considering it is a popular activity on Saint Martin’s beaches. I paused and thought out loud, “I honestly have no idea.”

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Many people experience nudism by themselves first before experiencing it with friends or a spouse.

I recalled my days as a teenager, lying in the sun topless in my backyard. High school dances and tan lines are long-time foes. Privacy was ample in my backyard and the only risk of exposure was the occasional airplane flying overhead.

‘Stripping off my swimsuit in front of other people though? Would I have the courage?’ As I gave the idea more life, I asked, “Would you be ok with other men seeing me naked?”  Carlos said, “Of course,” without hesitation. In my naiveté, I struggled separating nudism from its sexual connotation. My only previous encounter with nudism was skinny dipping at a local quarry after a high school football game with several friends – girls and boys, one of whom I had a small crush on. The moonlight was scarce, which allowed us to shed our clothes without much fear of being seen jumping into the cool water. I shared my experience with Carlos, slightly nervous he may pass judgment, but he just smiled in sweet amusement. Our conversation digressed and we rambled about other things. We did not suggest nudism again until we were lying out at Happy Bay, a sandy and secluded beach on Saint Martin.

After dating a little less than a year, Carlos had proposed. Suddenly, we were engaged and jetting off to the Caribbean. Carlos’ confidence and enthusiasm were more reassuring, attractive and contagious than ever before. I couldn’t help but be swept away in his excitement as he showed me around his favorite island, drove us to his favorite beach, and carefully picked out a semi-secluded spot by the water. He poured us each a generous glass of red wine, and we sat on the beach soaking up the sun. Shortly after finishing our wine, in what seemed like one swift motion, Carlos slid down his swim shorts and reached over to untie my bikini top. I let the straps fall to the sand and without moving to stop him. He untied the string that was holding my bikini top somewhat in place. My eyes locked on his, and any sense of uneasiness was gone. He then rather sweetly and hopefully asked, “Will you slide off your bottoms too?” Without saying anything, I did and smiled.

 

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Petit Cayes beach on Saint Martin. A perfect beach to experience social nudity for the first time.

A wave of excitement immediately washed over me and with the rush, my senses became acutely aware of everything. I had never felt the sun’s warmth so completely or the ocean’s breeze so freely. A new sense of liberation consumed me. For several minutes, I just stared at the ocean in complete awe and shock.

No one was yelling at me to dress myself. No one was staring at me. No one seemed to notice or even care. As I looked around, it dawned on me we were not the only ones lying naked on the beach. How had I not noticed? Carlos interrupted my self-examination and asked if I would join him for a swim. Apprehension started to creep in. ‘Wait, I have to get up?  Surely people will stare.’ Carlos noted my hesitation and without words, offered me the reassurance and courage I needed. ‘So what if they stare?’

He stood up first and offered his hand, helping me off of my cloth sanctuary. For some reason, leaving my towel behind affirmed my display of public nudity. But with Carlos by my side, I had strength and courage I never had before. In no hurry, we walked down the beach holding hands and entered the warm ocean water for our first nude swim together. The water seemed to feel more slippery than I’d ever felt before and my body offered no resistance as I gracefully glided through the water. One single moment lasting no more than a few minutes had just completely opened my eyes to a new state of mindfulness.

The rest of the evening, I unleashed a fury of questions that had been brewing all day at the beach and Carlos shared his story and confirmed a few of my suspicions. This was not his first experience with nudism, but it was his first experience sharing it with someone he loved. Though it was not an overtly sexual experience for either of us, we shared a heightened degree of intimacy that brought our relationship to another level. I excitedly and curiously listened to Carlos share his prior experiences.

The World Famous Club Orient Beach
The World Famous Orient Beach by Club Orient, Saint Martin

He first arrived to Saint Martin aboard a popular cruise ship. Walking along the shores of Orient Beach, he was one of the few American tourists who removed his shorts while walking the nude side of the beach. When I asked him why, his reply was simple, “It just seemed like fun!”

Enjoying the experience so much, he decided to visit a local nudist club. Coincidently, he ran into a coworker there. I can imagine the odds of this happening are extremely low. Within the nudist community, there is a healthy level of respect for privacy, and their meeting followed suit. Neither ever mentioned the incident at work and they remain friends today.

Not wanting to give up nudism, Carlos eventually returned to Saint Martin for a second time with his then-girlfriend. Together they explored more of the island, but for the entirety of the trip, she remained clothed. Curiously, I asked if it would bother him if I decided that nudism might not be for me. Carlos confidently insisted he would accept my decision, but my preferences would not change his own. I greatly appreciated the lack of pressure I felt in that moment. Carlos would love me no matter my decision and would continue to respect me. Ultimately, like my husband, unwinding anywhere au natural is just too much fun not to partake.

Since my first experience with nudism, my body has seen several changes. Carlos and I returned to the Caribbean for our honeymoon, both of us carrying a few extra pounds that came with the stress of planning a wedding and enjoying life a little too much.

The third time we left our swimsuits behind, I was 25-weeks pregnant and displaying a very recognizable baby bump. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the freedom of leaving behind my clothes. I have yet to find clothes that are truly comfortable for any expecting mother.

Shortly after delivering, we decided to visit a local nudist club, one that was new to both of us. I was three months postpartum, still carrying around extra weight from pregnancy, leaking breast milk and nursing my infant. Though I had reservations, I refused to let anything stand in my way of enjoying my life. As a new mom, I was unprepared for the amount of attention we would receive with such a young baby, but it allowed us to become more sociable and leave behind the isolation we previously maintained by nature of our Type B personalities.

After our visit, Carlos and I both shared a longing to return to Saint Martin. After the trip was already booked, we learned we were expecting. Again, I shed my swimsuit underneath the sun with a baby bump on display. To my surprise, I found my pregnancy, though fairly small at the time, to be quite a conversation starter. Strangers would congratulate us and ask the typical follow up questions.

In fact, it was this very topic that broke the ice and gave reason for small chit chat with someone who has since become very close friends of ours. As fate would have it, the man standing directly behind us in line during an Orient Beach Bar happy hour lives less than 10 minutes from our home. After quickly discovering the proximity of our homes, TC excitedly introduced us to his wife Mindy and we all immediately hit it off.

Upon our return, we stayed in contact. After finding time for a brief escape from busy schedules, we reconnected with TC and Mindy during the winter months over dinner. With like minded personalities and shared interests, it was easy to plan a couple visits to our local nudist clubs with them as soon as the summer weather allowed. Our friendship continues to flourish and has allowed us to try something new to all of us – share a private villa with another nudist couple.

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Too often, as women we criticize ourselves and each other. Our insecurities become motivating factors preventing us from doing things we once loved or may grow to love. In my neighborhood alone, even the most petite mother wears a very modest one-piece swimsuit at our neighborhood pool. Instead of celebrating our imperfect bodies, we regularly try to hide the things we detest – scars, stretch marks, cellulite, imperfect breasts, unwanted pounds, and the list goes on. Any idea of perfection is relentlessly brandished everywhere we turn – television, literature, advertisements, movies, pornography, etc. That quantifiable idea of perfection just doesn’t exist in the natural world.

I do not carry a perfect body. Simply put, I am quite average. My body still carries the extra weight brought on during pregnancy, my breasts aren’t as perky as they once were, cellulite has claimed many parts of my body, and my stomach has lost the tightness it once had before children. Physically, my body has transformed into something new with almost every nudist experience I have had, but each instance has given me the opportunity to confront a new set of insecurities and practice self-acceptance, an important concept I hope to pass to my own children.

Carlos has been incredibly patient and completely supportive throughout these life changes, putting up with my crying episodes (mostly hormonal) and not once shaming me if I felt the need to cover-up for whatever reason. Despite it all, one of the reasons I am still able to confidently strip down my clothes and walk down the beach for all to see is my ability to not just accept my body as it is, but celebrate it. I am a mother of three beautiful children, and I am proud that my body shows signs of motherhood. It’s the role I am proudest to fill. And though there are times I wish I had my pre-pregnancy body back, I am grateful that my experiences have made me stronger and more confident than I ever was when I was a size 2. I am happier now in my average body than I was then. I am more confident naked now than I was then. And with that confidence and those new life experiences, I have met some interesting people along the way and made a couple amazing friends.

All of our bodies tell stories. Each story is truly unique and deserves to be cherished by ourselves and respected by others. Don’t be afraid to share yours. The truly beautiful thing about nudism is the welcoming attitude and feelings of overwhelming acceptance. In my experiences, I have found the people who judge the most are often the ones wearing the most clothes. Perhaps they are afraid their insecurities will be noticed if they don’t first point out the flaws in others. Regardless of what others think, your opinion of yourself is the only one that truly matters and the only one you have the power to control.

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Some of our best experiences on vacation have been together on a nude beach.

If you’re thinking of trying nudism for the first time, go for it! If you’re single, what have you got to lose? If you’re married and hoping to convince your partner, sit down together and have an open and honest conversation. Leave judgments behind and listen to each other’s doubts, fears and insecurities with sincerity and respect. Accept that he or she might be hesitant or resistant. Explore each other’s fears and work to overcome them together. And absolutely do not forget to affirm your love for one another.

When I think of that summer with my husband, I’m reminded of a quote I once read:

“I want to live everything with the most density possible…I am so conscious that life might escape me at any moment, that everything has become keener and more distilled…I tell myself: All this happiness still, but for how long? So I devour life.” (What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind)

 Truly empowering words of wisdom to live by.