Save the Nudists! The Florida Young Naturists Keep the Clothes-Free Lifestyle Alive

Save the Nudists! The Florida Young Naturists Keep the Clothes-Free Lifestyle Alive

Robbe White is a 27-year-old with a head of cherubic, golden curls. His girlfriend, 24-year-old Anna Phillips, is pretty and sun-kissed, with long, chestnut hair. Phillips is eight months pregnant, but otherwise, these two look like the stereotypical, All-American boy and girl next door.

Except for one detail: They spend most of their time naked.

White and Phillips both come from conservative Christian families. White spent childhood vacations from school as a missionary in tropical foreign lands. Phillips has seven siblings and was raised to believe that birth control is evil. So these two might seem unlikely leaders of a nudist revival movement. But they run the Florida Young Naturists, a group of 18- to 30-year-olds who gather throughout the year to spend weekends au naturel, slipping down water slides, squatting in yoga poses, and beating drums around bonfires.

Being naked, White says, is "really freeing... As far as why I've started [FYN] and how it's paid off with me — there have just been so many positive stories that have come out of this. People have come for the first time and left the weekend crying. So many people have said, 'Wow, this was really great.'

"People that have self-image issues, weight issues, stuff like that... naturism really does kind of break down walls, and people feel loved and accepted and free in their own skin," White says. "It's really a community experience."

It's hard to quantify exactly how many nudists there are in the United States today. The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), which was founded in 1931 and is now based in Kissimmee, currently has 48,000 dues-paying members. AANR focuses on advocacy and tourism, connecting naturists to nudist resorts, nude cruises, and places to spend their "nakations." The Naturist Society (TNS), the country's other main nudist organization, is based in Wisconsin and has 25,000 dues-paying households. Its focus is on promoting body acceptance through education and outreach.

Spokespersons for both organizations suggest that the cold, hard membership figures don't even come close to representing the massive numbers of people who like to frolic sans clothes. Carolyn Hawkins of the AANR says that several thousand people can be found on nude beaches any given weekend. Nicky Hoffman of TNS points to a 2006 Roper Poll (commissioned by TNS) that found that one in four Americans — roughly 70 million people — have skinny-dipped or sunbathed in the nude.

Nudism, or naturism (the latter term emphasizes the connection with nature), was practiced by ancient societies before Puritanism took over. Though guys like Ben Franklin and Henry David Thoreau reportedly liked to take walks naked ("air baths," they called them), nudism didn't really gain steam in the Western world until the advent of clothing-free spas in Germany in the 19th Century. In the U.S., nude recreation began to take hold publicly in the 1950s, but the first nudists in the U.S. feared discussing their habits for concern over being thought of as perverse and losing their jobs. The lifestyle would not grow to be accepted more widely until Woodstock, and it remained relatively strong into the 1980s. Today, however, says TNS' Nicky Hoffman, "the majority of our members are 45 and up." So the clothes-free lifestyle could be in danger of dying out — unless younger generations keep it alive.

Hoffman says groups like FYN play "a very important role" in sustaining the culture.

Hawkins echoes that sentiment, lamenting that "the younger generation — they're not joiners. That's unfortunate because we're protecting their right to be nude, to visit a nude beach, to go to a club when they want to." Her grandson runs the Florida chapter of Vita Nuda, a young-adults offshoot of AANR. He performs outreach by speaking at colleges and bringing photography and psychology classes on tours of the Orlando-area nudist resort.

Of course, current laws and social mores dictate that it is rarely possible, and in many cases illegal, to go about one's day-to-day business in the buff. In New York, courts have made clear that women as well as men are allowed to bare their breasts in public, and in Miami-Dade County, publicly funded Haulover Beach was officially recognized as clothing-optional in the 1990s. But most of the nation is far more restrictive. Some municipalities even have pages-long definitions of the human buttocks in city code to criminalize their exposure. Law-enforcement officers have the latitude to charge naked people with a variety of offenses, like lewd behavior, indecent exposure, or disturbing the peace.

Tasked with researching the whole young nudist scene, this New Times reporter decided there was only one way to investigate: in the buff.

I had a few obvious concerns: Would I need sunscreen? Where would I keep my keys? As a skeptical "textilist," or clothes wearer, I also wondered about the potential downside: Is naturism safe? Is it just a cover for sweaty, patchouli-scented bacchanalia? Or worse, a hideout for pervs?

As the FYN's website states, "Naturism is a beautiful way of life that can be enjoyed at locations across America and the world. Lucky for us, Florida is a particularly great climate to practice this natural lifestyle."


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68 comments
smithd493
smithd493

Any nudists here? 【Naturistpassion.com】 I would like to recommend you to the world's best and largest nudist seeking/dating site for world wide nudists , naturists and naked people to share nude photos and experiences and chat with real nudists.

Mindy Songfer
Mindy Songfer

If you are looking to try something new, the clothes free lifestyle could be your answer to meeting new nudists.  Naturistmingle com is the best choice for you! Interested in nudist dating, make nudist friends / hang out naked?

exbisonman
exbisonman

My reaction is a big YUK! However, if they stay on their own turf, and well out of sight of the rest of us, then let them do as the please.

Diana Hanks
Diana Hanks

Yes, nice.  If you are looking for a nudist mate or nudist partner, maybe nudistkiss com is the best choice to you

Michael McCormick
Michael McCormick

Help save nudists. Fight for freedom. Try to think about how things were prior to the Victorian age. Try to think about how God wanted us to be according to the book of Genesis. One should  know that there is a time and place for everything but, one should also remember that when there is shame, the heart is not right in acceptance. Let's work together for this cause.

Dana
Dana

Interested in nudist dating, make nudist friends / hang out naked? The is a nice choice to you http://nudistkiss.com

Patricia Beach
Patricia Beach

This is the best article I've read about a first time nude experience at both a naturist resort and a nude beach. I read an article about where to go for your first outdoor nude experience.http://beachnude.org/nudebeach...The author's experience bears out what I read in the article. Make your first time at a first class nudist resort. I happen to love going to a nude beach, but I always go with my husband. We witnessed some harassment of a single woman at Haulover. She was there by herself. Three clothed guys put their towels down near her and kept trying to engage her in conversation. She got up and left. We not only need more legal nude beaches, they need to have the same level of protection and services that textile beaches do. I noted in her article that a policeman did show up at Haulover.

sarababe
sarababe

Interested in nudist dating, make nudist friends / hang out naked? check out naturistmingle com

Michael McCormick
Michael McCormick

I am beginning to resemble that remark because of my age. However, I am behind you a 100%. If I could go back about 20 years, I would. Thanks for being honest. That only tells me I am not in shape and yet, there are things I can probably do to get back in shape.

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Pffffft. Take a poll. I vurped because the visual stimulus resulted in that reaction. If my reaction is the thing that is wrong with this country, then maybe one of has our priorities skewed.

 
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