Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nudist Colonies

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article concerning the declining popularity of nudist colonies.  Despite the fact that the nation’s 250 colonies generate over $440 million in revenue every year, their membership numbers are steadily declining due to their inability to attract a younger generation of nudists. Apparently the elderly are more inclined to spend their money on nudity than today’s youth, a phenomenon I witnessed while visiting Hot Springs, AR several years ago.

Desperate to attract new adherents to the lifestyle, several colonies have implemented events geared toward a younger crowd. One example is a naked 5K race. Other than a lower instance of arthritis, I cannot understand why this would specifically attract younger contestants. While I have never run a 5K naked, I can only imagine that it would be both uncomfortable and unflattering to jog with your luggage unsecured.

One young girl in the article complained that while she liked the lifestyle she avoided the retreats because there was no one there her age. She said that she felt like she was being leered at like “eye-candy” around some of the older men. While her discomfort was probably warranted, I am not sure being surrounded by twenty year old men is going to reduce objectification. I just assumed that when one joined a nudist colony, having one’s accessories inspected came with the territory.

I suppose there could be some inherent freedom in an all-nude lifestyle, but there are several activities and professions that I would not want to perform in the buff:

Operating a weed-eater - With their tendency to turn small rocks and acorns into projectiles there is a very real probability that I could sustain an injury serious enough to “sink my battleship.”

Mountain Climbing – a grown man spread eagle on the side of a large rock straining to reach a hand-hold cannot be a pleasant view for those left at base camp. Plus, the likelihood of dangerous loose boulders increases greatly.

Restaurant Waiter – you may get lemons in your water whether you requested them or not.

Bull Rider – that amount of violent bucking and jarring cannot end well, plus not wearing  pants makes a belt-buckle just seem superfluous.

Traffic Cop – because let’s be honest, when the officer approaches the driver’s side window of your Honda Civic to write you a ticket you really do not want to be staring at his “deputy.”

Most who are attracted to the natural lifestyle claim that publicly displaying one’s birthday suit is a liberating experience and that we shouldn’t allow society to pressure us into being ashamed of our bodies. Clearly these people have never worked in I.T. or been to a southern flea market.

I am just not convinced that shame is the whole issue preventing a younger generation from embracing the nudist lifestyle. After all, I doubt many would argue that today’s youth conceal their bodies beneath loose-fitting prudish clothing to begin with. Perhaps the real issue is economic. Who wants to pay someone for the privilege of being naked when they can do so at home (or on the Internet) for free? Also, where are all these hip kids going to keep their iPhones? Where do you keep your keys at a nudist colony?

With all the downfalls of a nude lifestyle, there are some advantages. You could certainly breeze right though airport security and people would not keep asking you if that was your natural hair color. I assume it would also reduce wars between nations since it would be difficult to identify the enemy without a uniform.

I believe that while nudity has its place (the bathtub, Judd Apatow films) I am not sure that it is exactly holding society back. Einstein managed to develop his theory of relativity and advance physics all while wearing clothing. I also think nudity would be detrimental to the president because when a man goes on national television to assure me that everything is under control, I am more likely to believe him if he is wearing pants.

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