Note #1: My thoughts on nudism are in flux. As a result, this post is subject to change. Also: If I offend anyone or anger anyone, let me know in the comments section and we can talk about it. It is not my intent to offend or anger anyone with this post, and I’m sorry if I do.
Note #2: I am a Catholic. As a result, my thoughts on nudism will be influenced by my Catholic faith. This post is me expressing my personal opinion. Your criticism and feedback is welcome: This is a complex subject, and it is good to talk with others about it.
Note #3: A year ago, I watched a few minutes of an episode of Naked and Afraid. Afterwards, I thought to myself, “People live that lifestyle. People choose to be naked.” (The people who are on Naked and Afraid are, as far as I know, not nudists. The show did make me think of nudists, though. The reason being that the people on the show were, as the title implies, naked.) Since then, I have been thinking about the subject of nudism from time to time and so recently I did a little research on the nudist lifestyle. This post is me explaining my thoughts on what I learned.
I am not a nudist.
I don’t know anyone who is a nudist.
The reason I am writing about the subject of nudism is because I think it is important.
Why do I think the subject is important? This is why:
Nudists are a group of people who, like Adam and Eve before the Fall, are naked without shame.
How do they do it?
Here’s what I think: When one nudist looks at another, they “look beyond” the person’s naked body: They see the person not as their individual, pleasure-inducing body parts, or as someone to have sex with, but as the human being that they are; in all their beauty, complexity, mystery, and imperfection.
Why do they do it?
Here’s what I think: Nudity is an equalizer. The line of thinking goes “If everyone is naked, no person can say to another ‘I am superior to you.'” There is also the feeling of freedom that comes with not wearing clothes.
As a Catholic — a person who sees it as his mission to spread Jesus’ teaching — I can’t stand to see groups of people (like nudists) being, as I see it, swept under the rug. Ignored. I can’t yet explain why exactly I feel like nudists are being ignored, but I just do.
As a Catholic, do I think it is wrong to be a nudist? That being a nudist is immodest?
I, personally, don’t think nudism is immodest. Here is why:
The human body is an inherently good thing. In the Bible, in Genesis 1:31, God sees everything that he has made (including the body) and calls it “very good.” And I think that Original Sin — the imperfectness we’re all born with — doesn’t make the body any less good: Original Sin, I think, just means that we have to try extra hard to see people as human beings, not as body parts. There are also these words from Saint Pope John Paul II, in his book Love and Responsibility: “Nakedness as such is not to be equated with physical shamelessness. Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence [i.e., lust], as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment.”*
There is also this to take into account:
Modesty is relative. What I mean is this: Depending on where you are in Africa, knees are considered sensual. Breasts are considered no big deal: nobody bats an eye at a woman nursing her baby in public. That’s not how it is in the U.S. Here, knees are no big deal, while women are campaigning for the right to be topless in public. Or, for another example, look at tribes in the Amazon Rain Forest. Members of tribes there wear little or no clothing, yet no one in the tribe, it seems, bats an eye. It is for these reasons that while I do think that clothes do play a role in being modest — for example: I consider it immodest for a person to wear clothes that draw attention to parts of their body — clothes are not the be-all and end-all. A nudist woman can be just as modest as a woman covered from head to toe.
What can nudism teach us?
- There is more to a person than their body.
- The body isn’t something to be feared, but understood and respected.
Those are my thoughts on nudism.
The reason I’m writing about nudism is because I want all people, no matter what they are or aren’t wearing, to be treated with love and respect, and for all people to treat themselves with love and respect, too.
*I encourage you to follow the link in this footnote to read John Paul II’s words on modesty in their entirety: Saint Pope John Paul II’s words on modesty