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Nude Awakening: The Benefits of Getting Naked

There's a lot more to the nudist/naturist lifestyle than the negative stereotypes. And the movement is seeing a youth revival.

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Finally, there’s the question mark of how transgender nudists fit into the established scene. Old-guard nudism has been famously hard-nosed in the past about not allowing such body modifications as tattoos and piercings in nudist spaces and retreats. Trans nudists—none of whom were present at the Young Naturists event I attended—might well feel unwelcome in an environment that celebrates an arguably limited notion of what freedom and body acceptance might look like.

It’s inarguable that nudism today simply cannot sustain the same idealistic bonhomie as it did in the 1930s and 40s, when clothes-free pioneers literally built their own retreats from the larger world, or in the 1960s and ‘70s, when the lifestyle was simply another part of a burgeoning counterculture. The world is too cynical, the flesh too commodified, the pictures too easy uploaded to millions of eyeballs. But it says something that the lifestyle’s boosters persist in trying to sell the freedom of nudism to a new generation, to carve out a fun, shame-free utopia in a surface-obsessed culture. While the young nudists today might not carry the activist torch as actively as their forebears, they too are trying to re-create an Eden on earth. We can take our hats off for that, even if, for most of us, the rest stays on.

Victoria Bekiempis is a frequent contributor to Bitch. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Victoria Bekiempis is a contributor to the Village Voice, writing for the food and news blogs, as well as occasional features. Her work has appeared in Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, Skeptic, the Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor and various daily newspapers. In her off-time, Victoria is training for a Kilimanjaro trek
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