I have this friend on Twitter. Like myself, she occasionally posts a self portrait for her Twitter friends. Because of the nature of our universe, both of us are careful about what we expose to the world which is not always a safe place for full disclosure.
Besides Twitter and Facebook, I get to meet naturists and nudists online at the NOOK. Recently, there was a bit of discussion about photos and being a “true” naturist. According to a number of people, if you’re a true naturist you will show your whole body including your face. The site also advises that if genitals are showing without a recognisable head, the photo will be removed. Photos where genitals are cropped are taken as signs that one is not really a naturist, but perhaps a pervert who wants to hang out with real naturists to get their eye full of either male or female genitalia, the forbidden fruit.
Of course everyone is entitled to their opinions, but like most things in life, one’s self-definition is more valid than anyone else standing on the sidelines. From what I know about my friend above and myself, we are both self-declared naturists. That definition isn’t measured by how many hours of nudity we manage to fit into our busy lives, or by tan lines or their absence, or by the images we present to the world as we disclose to the world a small part of who we are as humans.
Then there is the issue of why post such photos at all? Well, for my part, it is a deliberate act of defining who I am to the world as a naturist. There is no need for you to see genitals as in this photo to the right. It’s obvious that I am fully nude. There is no need to see my friend’s face in the photo above either. The image is quite clear: she is telling the world the same message – I am a naturist.
A second reason exists for me, that of defiance in a manner that skirts around social media censorship such as Facebook where my posts get advertised. The defiance is not just in the world of social media either. People who know me in my face-to-face world get confronted with my images that often make them uncomfortable, especially given the location of many of the images that are tied to my home community. Basically everyone knows I am a naturist – I have published books which have had success in sales in my community, books that include images as well as text that disclose my preference, perhaps even need for nudity.
And then there is the issue of being exhibitionists – yes, when we as humans post images of ourselves, whether clothed or not, we are in some way, exhibitionists. We want to be seen. We want to have others see us and acknowledge us as both naturists, and as worthy human beings. As well, when there is resonance that is heard from others, our self-image grows. As self-image grows the images we put forward change. We dare being ordinary while naked rather than simply posed, an act that makes us more vulnerable.
All that being said, I am a naturist. My friend is a naturist. I am a male and she is a female. She is married with children, as am I. Our friendship is based on a shared philosophy of life as naturists, not on some distant hope for “more.” There is a trust that has grown over time. That is one of the most powerful things about naturism. With all exposed, the real person emerges making friendships authentic in spite of not having a face-to-face dimension.