In the absence of the hippie subculture that was so prominent in the 1960s, is naturism even still a thing? As that generation ages, will they take naturism with them or will they succeed in passing along the naturist lifestyle to others? Perhaps any interest in nudity outside of sex and porn has died leaving naturism irrelevant to the younger generations of today. Does anyone care about body freedom anymore?
What do the numbers say?
First, we need to recognize that the United States is not always the weather vane for the world, and thus it is important that we look worldwide to see whether naturism is alive and well or withering and depleted. We also must realize that North Americans tend to be much more prudish than much of the rest of the world, which is an interesting reality considering how progressive Westerners appear to be, although the loudest voices don’t always represent the majority.
A number of studies indicate that at least for the last few decades, many cultures outside of North America – particularly in Europe – are far more comfortable or open to nudity in some public areas like beaches. Polls indicate many European nations are largely quite comfortable with nudity on beaches such as a French poll that claimed 86% of their citizens are in favour.
Check out some of these numbers from polls:
France: 40% of women claim to have gone topfree in public.
France: 86% of citizens favour nudity on public beaches.
Germany: 68% do not object to nude bathing.
Greece: 65% favor the establishment of official nudist facilities.
Lisbon: 82% approved of nude beaches.
So what about back here in North America-land?
Well it’s favourable. In fact to the surprise of many, there seems to be an increase in interest.
Back in ’83 a Gallup poll showed that 72% of Americans didn’t think designated clothing-optional beaches should be against the law. Well that’s great, but that’s a bit of a “so long as it doesn’t affect me” attitude. Is there anyone who actually wants to participate?
Actually yes. The same poll revealed that 1/3 of respondents would try going to one of these clothing-optional beaches. 14% of those polled had already participated in nude recreation.
So that was a while ago, but is there any indication that things are getting better? Will millennials take up the torch from the boomers, or are they too wrapped up in TweetTok-Snaptagram?
Well it’s actually looking good. Maybe mobile devices aren’t ruining everything. Psychology Today conducted a study that claimed 28% of couples under the age of 35 swim in the nude together. For couples aged 35-49 it’s 24%. That’s actually super promising. Not only is that quite a healthy number, but it’s also far more than the 9% of couples 50 or older who swim nude together. That age group is super significant, since that’s the age group commonly associated with naturism. It’s also the group most likely to be carrying the torch from the hippie days, and it’s the group that naysayers believe will bring naturism with them to their graves. Thankfully, it seems they are wrong about that.
Here’s a cool thing that is a very important topic for another post: that same poll and others like it found that activities such as swimming nude together are linked to a higher level of satisfaction in the marriage. How great is that?
35% of Americans reported they would “bare it all” on a nude beach in a poll conducted by Martini and Rossi. That number is really only up slightly from the poll back in ’83, so while the attitude doesn’t seem to have changed too much, what about the actual participation? Are more people actually trying it rather than just saying they might…one day…possibly…if the lights are off…?
Here’s a cool number: there are approximately 15,000 visitors to the world-famous Wreck Beach in Vancouver on a nice day. From my experience, about half of those go nude, which means 7,500 people taking their clothes off in one day there. I can tell you that it’s amazing to be a part of that.
Here’s something I’ve found interesting: membership in nudist organizations is growing, and quite quickly too. As the founder of a naturist club, it has been an interesting experiment to see my generation and the younger generations being resistant to joining clubs and groups. I’m unsure if it’s about not being labelled or if we just don’t like the formality of joining a club, but either way it makes me happy to see that membership is increasing overall.
It is reported that participation in naturism is growing by about 20% per year. While I can’t find the source of those numbers, all we have to do to verify this claim is follow the money to see what’s trending. The tourism industry has their finger on the pulse better than most, as tourism brings in massive amounts of cash, but only if it offers what people actually want.
For the last couple decades, the tourism industry has invested more and more into clothing-optional recreation to cash in on this upward trend, and they wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t paying off.
According to Nikki Grossman, director of the Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, one of the top five requests made by international visitors is for a nude or top-free beach. Fodor’s Travel Guide refers to “nudism” as “tourism’s fastest growing sector.”
In the USA, naturism brings in about $120 million per year in direct revenues alone, and that seems to be increasing rapidly.
This is all very promising, and actually seems to accurately reflect what I have seen in my circles.
The one thing that none of these stats point to however, is the catalyst. What is the driving force behind this? While I don’t know if there is something specific that is creating this interest, I have certainly noticed that the under-45 crowd seems to have far fewer reservations than may be expected, and are quite often willing to give naturism a try when it is offered. The key here is that is has to be offered because it is getting zero media attention, and I think many people don’t even know it’s happening. People are surprised when I tell them about the local nude swim at a rad wave pool, or when I tell them how awesome Wreck Beach is, or I tell them I went skim boarding without a bathing suit full of sand. It’s like they never knew this was possible, but once they know about it the reaction is often interest rather than disgust. In fact, it’s almost always positive, so really we all just need to get out there and be good ambassadors for this incredible lifestyle. People are willing to hear about it and they’re willing to try it, we just need to share it in a positive way.
Naturism is growing in acceptance, so let’s get out there and share it with a world who is ready and waiting!