I'm back! I'm finally going to answer a question many of my readers (and friends and perplexed family members lol) have been requesting for a while now. Why the heck do I call myself a nudist?! What's the deal? Let me break it down for you.
Nudism or naturism is NOT sexual, it is not about stripping in a sensual, erotic way -although I'm all for that, too, in the appropriate time, place and manner ;) The naturist community is a unique place where the goal of nudity is simply to let it all hangout. We often refer to it as "social nudity", because, unlike hangin out naked at your house when no one is home, the point is to be nude with other like-minded individuals.
I can honestly say I've always been a nudist. Think about it, I was LITERALLY born this way (thanks Gaga!). But, around the time when most kids start acclimating to social pressures to be ashamed of their bodies and subscribe to ideas of modesty, I was still streaking through the house after my shower (much to the shock of my more reserved friends and the chagrin of my brothers). As I grew up, I struggled with the idea of modesty. As I've mentioned, I grew up in a very conservative, Christian household. So, as soon as I sprouted mini tits, I was told to cover up, and anything too tight, too low cut, to short, etc., was sexualized and demonized. I was taught from a young age that my body was something that would be lusted after and that it was up to me to cover it up and "save myself". There was no other option presented. There were no in betweens. I was either a virgin or a whore. This never sat right with me.
I went through a rocky suppression and and even rockier sexual awakening (more for another post, someday, perhaps). Eventually, I stumbled on the LA nudist community shortly after moving to LA and getting knocked up.
I had gone as far 180 from my upbringing as a girl could go, and had at least figured out that I liked living life being more open minded and adventurous. I had just had my emergency ultrasound at Open Arms Pregnancy Center, and showed up at what I thought was an audition for a "naturist improv team". It turned out to be an open call for nude stand-up comedy. I didn't have any background in standup, but didn't have any problem getting naked, and decided the rollercoaster of my life at the time could be interesting and, perhaps, funny enough. I disrobed, got up on stage, and riffed about working in foot fetish in New York, moving to LA, and salsa dancing my way into an unexpected pregnancy, seeing my child on her first ultrasound and nick-naming her froggy (cause that's what she looked like to me at the time, and because I thought maybe that would help me not get too attached while I figured out if she might be better off with adoptive parents). People loved the bizarre truth of my life and thus, a new nudist was born.
I hosted nude comedy nights at Two Roads Theater in Studio City all through my pregnancy and postpartum days. It became a fun community with whom to share my journey. I felt so comfortable in a packed house of naked folks! We were all their because we were misfits who enjoyed just being ourselves without the burden of clothes. I find that clothes take on such an absurd amount of our identity. And when they are gone, we get to just let all that go! It was so nice to go and perform and know that wardrobe didn't matter. They were there to see and listen to ME, not however I wanted to present myself (dress, pants, fancy, casual).
At one of these shows, an acting friend of mine attended and later reached out to me about teaching nude yoga. I was not a certified yoga teacher but had practiced for years and it seemed within the realm of possibility for me.
Cut to a year later, I have a thriving nude yoga business, many private clients throughout LA, and two sold out COED group classes thus far! And I have not once had one of these people be aggressively inappropriate or disrespectful. I feel more safe and respected in the nudist community than working out at the gym fully clothed or trying to get my dance on at the club with my friends. I love the work that I do and believe that it is important. I believe that I am a healer and that this is something the world needs. And what could feel more gratifying than that?
I believe that creating spaces where social nudity can happen is very important. First of all, NUDE IS NORMAL. Most little kids you see don't give a flying f88k about clothes! They disrobe whenever and wherever they feel like it with no shame. Only as we grow up do we learn to shame our nude bodies and this is very sad. Second, when we hit puberty, we are often taught that our nudity now is not only shamed but sexualized. So anytime we are naked in front of other people, it is to have our bodies sexualized and to use them to seduce another person or find sexual gratification. This is also really sad! (And we wonder why we have problems in this country with hyper-sexualization, rape culture, and toxic masculinity). Men and women should have the opportunity to be around one another in the nude without a sexual purpose! This trains our brains to see human anatomy as just a normal part of another person without immediately going to a sexual place. I often get asked "but do you REALLY think no one is having sexual thoughts during your yoga classes?" Of course not! We are human beings! But the goal is to reach a place where a stray sexual thought can come and then go without it being a big deal or becoming the focus of our nudity.
There is so much freedom to be had when you do reach this place. I have found that my own confidence has changed when interacting with people throughout my life in clothed scenarios, too. I have found that I hold myself differently which attracts more positive energy from those around me, and demands a different kind of respect.
Socially nude spaces also creative a uniquely wonderful environment to learn body positivity. I have learned a lot from spending time around a bunch of normal, nude bodies. There is no way to hide the way your belly hangs out when you breathe deeply during a nude yoga class. There are no tight yoga pants to constrict your physical shape to meet some distorted industry standard of what a yoga teacher "should" look like. There is just an average, fit body, moving freely through space, sometimes looking long and lean, other times having rolls and weird stretch marks. The men and women in my classes come from all walks of life and all levels of health and fitness, and they confidently hangout in the buff without shame. It is truly beautiful and moving to me every time.
With nude yoga, I am reclaiming nudity for myself, letting it be whatever I want it to be in any given moment, letting it be free and uninhibited, without shame. Taking it ALL the way back to my Christian upbringing, Adam and Eve used to walk around naked in the Garden of Eden. And only knowledge taught them shame. Knowledge is in your head, and so is shame. If it's all in our heads, than why can't we learn to let it go and experience nudity without shame, without judgement (from ourselves or others), without sexual pressure, without degradation, and with positivity, joy and freedom?! I encourage you to give it a try! For every nudist, there is a different story of how they came to be. If you know someone who attends nudist events, instead of labeling them a weirdo, go ask them what it's all about! You might not be comfortable the first time, but you might end up really loving it. You might just find you are a nudist, too.