Friday, June 3, 2016
So I went nude camping the other weekend. Played a little volleyball. Got some sun (but not too much). Being out of the lifestyle for several months (over the winter), it's always an interesting experience coming back. By now (this being my seventh year in the social scene), it's all very familiar to me, but there are still some things that one tends to look at in different ways as one's mindset changes. Having read much discussion online about one of organized nudism's biggest challenges - drawing a younger audience to replace the aging nudist population (I have to be honest, I consider the fact that most kids raised in nudism abandon the lifestyle in their teens to be a critical failure of nudism) - it was interesting for me to consider just how little the typical nudist camp experience (at least as I've known it) appeals to a stereotypical younger demographic. I mean, even the whole "drinking and partying late into the night" thing which all the aging attendees love to do (contrary to anyone who might think otherwise) seems less appealing when you're in a clubhouse with old and sagging bodies, instead of a nightclub filled with hot, young, nubile flesh.
I hate to be superficial - I really do. One of the amazing things about nudism is that you learn to judge people based on their personality, and not their looks. Somebody with a nice body could be a total a-hole, while someone else with a decidedly less "aesthetic" figure could be a total sweetheart. And seeing what happens to everybody's bodies as we grow older puts things into perspective. One of nudism's enduring and most redeeming features is its support of body acceptance. At the same time, I've never considered this position incompatible with the truth that beauty (even just pure, raw, physical beauty) is a virtue in and of itself, deserving of admiration. And one of the tenets of nudism that I regret to see has gone somewhat by the wayside these days is the emphasis on fitness.
I'm an all-inclusive kind of person, and if you want to drink and smoke and get piercings and tattoos and sit on your ass and grill steaks on the barbie, then have at it. It's [nominally] a free country, and if that's what makes you happy, then by all means, don't let me get in the way of your happiness. At the same time, I wouldn't mind seeing those of us who do appreciate physical fitness (both as participants and as spectators) having more opportunities and being given more leeway to indulge those interests. I know, there's a whole judgment culture that goes along with that that tends to be damaging to a body acceptance perspective. I'm not saying there aren't pitfalls to navigate. But I think they're worth navigating, instead of just picking a side. Like how I've explained my perspective on beauty pageants (a mostly outdated tradition in modern nudism - at least of the American variety). The competition aspect is perhaps not all that positive (although it still seems to be accepted in terms of athletic demonstrations, for better or worse), but I don't see what's the harm in continuing to celebrate, if in a more egalitarian manner.
Anyway, another one of my enduring regrets about the organized nudist scene is the total fear of cameras. It's a justified fear, to be sure, but it's still one I think we'd be better off overcoming. To be realistic, I don't see that happening anytime soon (although a nudist revolution - perhaps sparked by a younger demographic attached to their mobile devices, if it weren't so nonexistent - could introduce drastic and unforeseen changes). But I'm dedicated to it enough not to give up on it. To me, the risk of some stranger taking my picture is smaller than the gains I could receive from being able to photograph the nudist lifestyle. Granted, I'm in a somewhat unique position in that I don't have a reputation that needs to be protected (there are already naked pictures of me on the internet - put there deliberately by none other than myself; and I have nothing to lose by anyone learning that I am a nudist - indeed, I do not make that fact a secret), and that I happen to be a photographic artist (with the interest and the talent to create beautiful works of art on the subject of nudism, and not simply snapshots of naked people to share with my friends and laugh at/jerk off to, as the case of your worst nightmare might be - although, notice how neither of those contingencies are exactly end-of-the-world scenarios).
I've spent a lot of time thinking about a way to get around this obstacle - of wanting to shoot a subject that doesn't like to be shot at - but it's a thorny problem with no clear solution, especially to one such as me who has a hard time in the "social networking" game, and is also just liberated enough to make most people uncomfortable. That's all I can say for now, as it's an open case. Suffice to say, I'd love to take action shots of myself or others (but I could settle for myself) engaged in interesting physical activities like playing volleyball out in the sunshine, but until I can work out a solution to this problem, you'll have to settle for something decidedly less genuine. Just...use your imagination.