Family Skinnydippers

205 Arguments in Support of Social Nudity
as presented by The Naturist Society

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 Nudity is often more comfortable and practical than clothing
 Naturism promotes mental health
 Some observations on the nature of modesty
 Naturism promotes sexual health
 Naturism promotes physical health
 Naturism is socially constructive
 Naturism is healthy for the family
 Naturism is especially consistent with feminism and the struggle for women's freedom
 Naturism is more natural than clothes-compulsiveness
 Accepted clothing requirements are arbitrary and inconsistent
 Naturism is growing in acceptance
 Constitutional support for Naturism
 Additional legal support for Naturism
 Historical support for Naturism
 Historical origins of the repression of nudity
 Christianity supports Naturism
 Personal experience supports Naturism

69-77. Naturism is healthy for the family.

69. True nudists emphasize a decent, family atmosphere and morality.

70. Research shows that children who grow up in a nudist setting tend to be more self-confident, more self-accepting, and more sexually well-adjusted. They feel better about their bodies, and more comfortable with their sexuality.90

Research conducted at the University of Northern Iowa found that nudist children had body self-concepts that were significantly more positive than those of non-nudist children--and that the "nudity classification" of a family was one of the most significant factors associated with positive body self-concept. Furthermore, nudist children showed a significantly higher acceptance of their bodies as a whole, rather than feeling ashamed of certain parts.91 A study by psychologists Robin Lewis and Louis Janda at Old Damien University reported that "increased exposure to nudity in the family fosters an atmosphere of acceptance of sexuality and one's body." They concluded that children who had seen their parents nude were more comfortable with physical contact and affection, had higher self-esteem, and showed increased acceptance of and comfort with their bodies and their sexuality.92 Research by Marie-Louise Booth at the California School of Professional Psychology found that "individuals with less childhood exposure to parental nudity experienced significantly higher levels of adult sexual anxiety than did the group with more childhood exposure to parental nudity." 93 Separate research by Diane Lee Wilson at The Wright Institute reached the same conclusion.94 Research by Lou Lieberman of the State University of New York at Albany, in the late 1960s, found that "those young people who had casually seen both of their parents nude in the home were far more likely to feel comfortable with their bodies and to also feel more satisfied with the size and shape of their genitalia and breasts." 95

71. In general, "experts" such as Joyce Brothers and Dr. Spock speak out against family nudity without empirical evidence to back them up. When research is actually done, it contradicts their dire warnings.96

In several years of research at major national research libraries, I have yet to come across a scientific study which contradicts the premise that openness about nudity is healthy for children.

72. Most commentators say that it's the context in which family nudity takes place, not the nudity itself, that determines whether it's problematic. Children respond far more to parents' attitudes toward nudity than to the nudity itself, and nudity is only a problem when it is treated as one.97

73. Many psychologists argue that the implicit message conveyed by a lack of nudity in the home is that the body is basically unacceptable or shameful--an attitude which may carry over into discomfort about nudity in the context of adult sexual relationships.98

74. Children of "primitive" tribes, surrounded by nudity of all forms, suffer no ill effects. Neither do children who grow up in other societies which are more open about nudity than our own.99 Presumptions that exposure to nudity will lead to problems for children grow out of the preconceptions of our culture.

Paul Ableman writes: "It is interesting to speculate as to what kind of model of the human mind Sigmund Freud would have constructed if he had based it not on clothed Europeans but on, say, a study of the naked Nuer of the Sudan. Almost all the processes which he discerns as formative for the adult mind would have been lacking. Freud assumes that children will not normally see each other naked and that, if they do happen to, the result will be traumatic. This is not true of naked cultures. . . . Thus great provinces of Freud's mind-empire would simply be missing. There would be no Oedipus complex (or not much, anyway), no penis envy or castration complex, probably no clear-cut phases of sexual development. We are emerging rapidly from the era of Freudian gospel . . . and can now perceive the extent to which he himself was the victim of prevailing ideas and prejudices." 100

75. Children who grow up in a nudist environment witness the natural body changes brought on by adolescence, pregnancy, and aging. They have far less anxiety about these natural processes than children who are never exposed to them except through layers of clothing.

76. Research has demonstrated that countries with fewer reservations about nudity (and sexuality in general) also have lower teen pregnancy and abortion rates.101

A 1985 study by the Guttmacher Institute found rates of pregnancy and abortion among teenage girls in America to be more than twice those of Canada, France, Sweden, England, and The Netherlands. The disparity couldn't be explained by differences in sexual activity, race, welfare policies, or the availability of abortion, but only in cultural attitudes toward nudity and sexuality. The study found American youth to be particularly ignorant of biology and sexuality, partly due to a climate of moral disapproval for seeking such knowledge. It found that lower levels of unwanted pregnancy correlated with factors such as the amount of female nudity presented by public media and the extent of nudity on public beaches.102

77. Clothes-compulsion intimidates millions of mothers from breast-feeding their children, even though breast-feeding is healthier and often more convenient for both the child and the mother.103

In the U.S., barely half of all mothers breast-feed; only 20% do so for a full 6 months, and only 6% for the Surgeon General's recommended 12 months.104 Breast-feeding is also declining in developing countries.105 Gabrielle Palmer writes: "In Victorian England, famous for its prudery, a respectable woman could feed openly in church, yet in contemporary industrialized society where women's bodies and particularly breasts are used to sell newspapers, cars and peanuts, public breast-feeding provokes cries of protest from both men and women." 106 Lisa Demauro notes that "our society is far more at home with the idea of sexy breasts than functional ones." 107 "Millions of boys and girls have grown up never having seen a mother breast-feeding her baby," adds Marsha Pearlman, the Florida Health Department coordinator for breast-feeding. "This is a sad commentary on our culture." 108

Continue to arguments 78-89


90. For a thorough treatment of this subject, see D. Smith; Westheimer and Lieberman 65-73; and Okami 55-56, 60.

91. Story, "Factors" 49-56.

92. Lewis and Janda 349-62.

93. See doctoral research by Booth.

94. See doctoral research by Wilson.

95. Westheimer and Lieberman 72.

96. Unfortunately, a 1994 study by R.M. Dawes found that most clinicians keep themselves up to date not by academic research, but by workshops, conferences, and "clinical intuition." (Okami 54)

97. Okami 55, 60.

98. Gardener 99-100.

99. For example, practically every extended family in Finland uses the sauna in the nude together on a regular basis (Edelsward 196). Anthropological data, in fact, show parental nudity to be "very common (if not ubiquitous) crossculturally." See Okami 54.

100. Ableman 43.

101. See Jones et al., esp. 11, 18, 223, 229.

102. "Look & Function" 5; "Nude Beaches Help" 5.

103. References to the extensive benefits of breast-feeding are numerous. See for example Gaskin (esp. pp. 8-16); Palmer; J. Easton 53; Genz 52-53; "Topfree At Last" 46; Hill 42; et al. In developing countries, use of breast milk substitutes or mixed feeding is associated with a four to sixteen-fold increased risk of dying from diarrheal disease compared to an infant who is exclusively breast-fed. Even in the developed world, incidence of diarrhea and respiratory infection are reduced to one-third in babies exclusively breast-fed. Breast milk, especially immediately after birth, contains important antibodies against disease, is highly nutritious and high in calories, and helps clear the baby's intestinal tract. It is ideally suited to the baby's metabolic and developmental needs, especially brain development, and is easy to digest. Breast-fed babies suffer less from gas, constipation, diarrhea, and intestinal infections, and are more resistant to colds, respiratory diseases, allergies, and many viruses. Formula milk, by contrast, is more difficult for the child to digest, causing increased stress on its digestive and excretory systems, and is a common source of allergic reaction. For the mother, breast-feeding encourages uterine contractions which help restore post-pregnancy muscle tone and prevent hemorrhaging, and has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer and other diseases. Breast-feeding also encourages psychological bonding between the parent and child. It is in many ways more convenient than bottle feeding: breast milk is always ready, at the right temperature, with no spoilage, no waste, no fuss with complicated equipment and procedures, no trouble with improper mixing, and no risk of contamination by external debris, a factor which is especially important in developing countries where water supplies are often unreliable. There is no contribution to another major industry with its accompanying environmental impacts. And breast-feeding is cheaper than bottle feeding. Health officials estimate that $25 million could be saved every year in welfare costs by more breast-feeding--which led the Miami Herald to comment: "Heck, that's enough to buy blinders for every Floridian offended by the sight of a mother nursing her baby in public." ("Florida Solons Exempt Nursing Mothers" 20)

104. Genz 52.

105. See Gaskin 170; Palmer 6; et al. In all, four billion dollars worth of baby formula is sold each year.

106. Palmer 95.

107. Glazer 138.

108. "Florida Solons Exempt Nursing Mothers" 20.

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