Naturism – Stripping Away the Final Mask

Playa Jaco, Costa Rica 2010

This image was taken at Jaco Bay in Costa Rica in January 2010.  While in Costa Rica, sunset photos became a frequent activity with an occasional photo of myself making it into some of the photos.  I chose this photo in order to continue on with the theme of naturalism, being whole in one’s own skin.  As I write, I do understand that many in the world do not see the naked body as a moral issue as it is understood in the North American collective.  Naturalists exist in both Canada and the U.S.A. and have gathered together at private campsites, private resorts or isolated beaches.  North American society grudgingly gives in to these isolated pockets while maintaining as much pressure as they can to push the fundamentalist, Victorian ideology/morality as far as they can in terms of public freedoms.  Strange for me how the focus in on having citizens keep their clothes on rather than real issues of sexual exploitation and violence.

I am a naturalist in a quiet and private manner.  Of course that means that I pick and choose times for liberation from my clothing, at least finding sleep as a time, space and place for being natural.  Interesting to me that I honour this with the belief that in doing so, I allow the portal to the dream world to be as transparent as possible with the idea that in putting my body fully at ease, I am more receptive to whatever is attempting to be heard.

In doing my research for this post (and yesterday’s, I cam across a few interesting thoughts that I would like to bring forward here.  The first is from Walt Whitman, taken from his work, Specimen Days.  I have just quoted a few of the words from this section (133) called A Sun-bath – Nakedness:

“Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me… Nature was naked, and I was also… Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! – ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.” (Whitman, Specimen Days, “A Sun-Bath – Nakedness,” 1892

Another one of my early influences on a number of different levels was Henry David Thoreau who wrote a three part essay called walking (available now in various ebook formats from the Gutenberg project) written in 1861 from which he offers his thoughts on being “natural”:

We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense. It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other. To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough.” (Thoreau, Walking, 1861)

I know that I have found peace in nature, especially when clothing is set aside for a brief time.  I have found this peace in lakes and in gentle pools along various rivers, walking through a Yucatan estuary, on protected areas along seashores, in isolated fields and meadows and while walking down remote trails in the wilderness.  This is not about social activity or about sexual gratification.  This is about being honest with oneself, stripping away yet one more mask and exposing all the flaws so that they can be accepted as natural aspects of self rather than as deficits.

10 thoughts on “Naturism – Stripping Away the Final Mask

  1. Living alone works well for naturists! I feel liberated when visitors leave and I can once again walk from the bathroom to the bedroom without needing to conform to convention.

    I also see it as a non-sexual process. I haven’t been to many bathhoues and hot springs in China, but in Japan it is natural to be naked in a group of people at the hot springs. One place I visited in Gansu, China also had hot springs where Tibetan women were in various states of undress. A male friend came in to photograph me in the springs and this did not cause any consternation either.

    I have been in open shower situations in hotels and gyms as well, with little interest displayed by others apart from the whiteness of my skin.

    Therefore it seems to be in certain places nudity is not a concern and quite acceptable, and again in a totally non-sexualised way.


  2. People get nakedness and nudism mixed up with sex and shame, so being without clothes is an object of fear and suspicion.

    Ironically gay men have more ease with being naked but get it more mixed up with eros than straight fellows.


    • I wonder about the differences we all have in our experiences and beliefs about the human body. So much shame is build into the collective that percolates as a toxin so that it becomes hard to separate the personal shadow from the collective shadow. Thanks, Urspo for your words.


  3. Robert, I was in Playa de Jaco in the 70’s. I’m sure it’s very different now. The Pan American Hwy hadn’t been completed and we found ourselves walking thru the jungle trying to find the way. Finally we found a place with a telephone that had service 3 hrs/day. We phoned the only hotel and they laughed and laughed and said they’d come get us. No one had told us that the only way in was to rent a private plane to fly us in to one of the fields around the hotel. It was very primitive and very beautiful. they had built giant palapas, and there was an old cinderblock ‘hotel’. Every morning the “police? sheriff? came by on his beautiful horse, and had the horse go thru his tricks. For the 1st week no one else was there. We were 2 couples and had the beach, etc. all to ourselves. When we left, a neighbor who owned huge rice fields flew us out in his small plane. What a place! I hope it hasn’t become ‘americanized’.


    • It has greatly changed, much more Americanized with drugs, prostitution and poverty rampant in the town of about 7,000 that now sits in the place of the old Playa Jaco. The Copacabana has now become (since our visit) a “lifestyles” resort which only accentuates the rawness of American wild rebellion against puritan rightwing collective values.


  4. I hope you meant “naturist” in the early paragraphs as you stated “naturalist” which is one who follows flora and fauna.


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