Food is probably the universal ritual for socialization that exists. Whatever we celebrate, we celebrate with food. When we gather together for joyful moments, or even to comfort each other in sad moments, we are enriched. Like almost all modern people, I celebrated New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with a number of others, family and friends. New Year’s Eve involved a variety of food choices that were eaten away from a dining table, in a less formal appetizer activity where we all nibbled, drank wine and chatted together. On New Year’s Day, both the noon meal and the evening meal were dining experiences at the table. Because of the inclusion of others who are not into nudity these events were done with clothing worn.
I wondered for a brief moment about the contrast from how I had been involved in other social occasions within the boundaries of a nudist club where being without clothing at the meals, both formal and informal dining. I intellectually understand the difference and the need to respect the differences between the two understandings of how we interact socially. I wondered about one particular difference where in the nudist setting where clothing is optional, which basically means those without clothing on respect the right of others to cover up in order to be more comfortable.
At a celebration in September, I noticed that almost half of those present in a group of about fifty people, were wearing clothes while the rest were either partially clothed or fully nude at the two very long dining tables. Everyone seemed comfortable with each other’s state of dress or undress while enjoying the meal. Yet, I know that everyone would be uncomfortable if a portion of the company present were naked at a social meal outside of a naturist community, including those who are nude at the table. One moment we are comfortable with our bodies without any sense of shame; and then with the change in setting, feeling of shame and guilt enter into the mind. It isn’t about vulnerability, but more about how we build boxes around ourselves in terms of identity and relationship to others.
The image above belongs to one of my readers who was willing to have his image here along with some of his words. Like myself, he is Canadian. We are separated by several thousand kilometres of physical distance and different lives. I want to bring his words here for you, my readers, to consider and perhaps even to respond to his words.
I wonder if the “umbrella” of nudism/naturism needs to be subdivided into various groupings like, say,(arbitrarily here), “exhibitionism/voyeurism”, “private context fair weather sun worshipers”, “public/social nudity fair weather sun worshipers”(public beaches and membership camps), “private maximum opportunity nudists”, “private social-circle social-naturists with a political/social/economic agenda” (my hobby horse), and as in the case of your blog the “private therapy/healing naturists”, ……….. and who knows how many other sub-groupings. (?). My explorations of the many so-called “nudist” sites on the Internet certainly spans a very wide spectrum from the pornographic to the more “philosophical”. Maybe some of the organizations like the FCN need to define a sub-grouping scheme and put their good housekeeping seal of approval on some a leave the porno sites off the list(?)
There are so many variations of nude community that are presented here. In reading his words, I realised that I would not feel comfortable, nude, in a number of these groups even though nudity is the norm. In fact, I would feel intense discomfort, as much discomfort as clothed people find when with naturists or home nudists. What does that say about our modern human psyche? I don’t have answers, perhaps there are no answers, just the unasked questions and the wondering.