Nudism/Naturism: Battle on the beaches

An issue has flared up on a couple of clothing-optional beaches in Canada — specifically, Wreck Beach in Vancouver and Hanlon’s Point in Toronto.

Apparently, some naturists are telling visitors in textiles that they must be naked to use the beaches, according to an article by the Canadian Press, which is dubbing the whole affair “a turf battle between nude bathers and their clothed counterparts.”

At first glance, it seems somewhat petty, and possibly criminal. After all, these are clothing-optional beaches, which means people in bathing suits and such are allowed to be there. And, as one person who was told by nude men to remove her clothes says in the article, she was a newbie to the scene and “wanted to do things at my own pace. If I decide to (undress) or not, that’s my choice.”

Her argument sounds reasonable to me. All naturists were beginners once, and we all moved at our own pace.

But the naturists are saying they are far outnumbered by clothed people at the beaches, and that many people are coming to essentially gawk at naked people. Naturists are saying they have become “a spectacle,” or as Ron Schout, president of the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) puts it, “just another show in town.”

Consequently, “fewer and fewer naturists visit the clothing-optional beaches each year,” Schout says.

Stéphane Deschenes, owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in Ontario, has this to say about the matter: “(Naturism) is about creating situations where there is psychological, emotional equality between people, and you can’t do that if one person is dressed and the other is nude.”

Hmm . . . Stéphane seems to be suggesting that naturists and clothed people cannot co-exist — though, isn’t co-existence the idea of clothing-optional beaches?

And should there be firm rules barring textiles in private naturist settings, such as  Stéphane’s Bare Oaks resort — where visitors “are required to be nude,” according to the article?

If you answer “yes” to the last question, then here is a followup question for you: What if it is a cool day, and you want to wear something to keep you warm? Dumb question, right? Obviously, if the weather makes you feel uncomfortable (i.e. cold), you can cover up. So, even in a private naturist setting, there are times when it is OK to be cloaked in textiles.

I found myself in such a situation last weekend. I attended ON/NO’s summer outing at a beautiful private naturism campground/resort by a lake in Ontario. Sadly, Mother Nature didn’t fully co-operate. The first half of the day was cool, and many people wore clothes to stay warm. Nobody criticized those who covered up — everybody understood the necessity. And even if it weren’t a necessity, nobody would have criticized anyone who chose not to remove their clothes.

I think there is a general understanding among the naturists I know: each to their own pace. The very fact that somebody is there means they are interested in naturism.

But I couldn’t see ON/NO putting up with gawkers, if some managed to get past the gatekeepers

So, I can understand the consternation of those at public clothing-optional beaches who feel people are coming to gawk at them. I saw it myself at the clothing-optional section of Oka Beach in Quebec. I was gawked at — but to be truthful, I didn’t care. Nobody made lewd comments to me. Nobody assaulted me. And the only guy who flirted with me was a naturist (but that’s another story — and I didn’t mind one bit).

But, personally speaking, I’m not shy about being naked in front of clothed people — probably because I have been a nude model in body acceptance workshops for clothed artists a few times.

Which makes me wonder about the naturists who are complaining on Wreck Beach and Hanlon’s Point: why do the gawkers bother them so much?

And isn’t it possible that some, if not all, of those gawkers may become naturists some day? Indeed, maybe that’s really why the gawkers are there. Maybe they are just trying to summon up enough courage to bare it all in public. Because, after all, if they only wanted to see naked bodies, they could go online and see myriad beauties . . .

— Jillian

P.S. Sorry for my absence here recently. Have been super busy. But I have about four posts to do here in the next week or two, including one on the Mike Ward ruling in Quebec.

19 thoughts on “Nudism/Naturism: Battle on the beaches

  1. Two solutions come to mind:
    1. Exercise our legendary friendliness and engage the clothed folks. That would either scare them away or perhaps convert them.
    2. If that doesn’t work, every naturist should carry a pair of binoculars to use on the perverted textiles! *lol*

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    1. That second option is used at Gunisson Beach, near NYC. They’ve actually had more serious gawkers who try to conceal cameras in bags or other things so they can record the surrounding nudists. So, the nudists will take out their own cameras and turn them on the gawker, and share the images with others to spread the word to be wary of this person, or send the images with police or park rangers.

      I think it is much more of an issue at beaches, where there are usually no authority figures who can eject someone, other than calling police in a very serious situation, which is rare. At private property, resorts and so forth, the owners or management monitor things and usually will not hesitate to toss someone out, or tell them not to come back, if they are making others uncomfortable.

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      1. I remember when I lived there we self-policed the beach. There were a group of us that would approach these creepers and act rather menacing. Every time they would pack up and leave or move far away. If they had a camera poking through a bag, we’d ask them politely for the film. These creeps are cowards and always slinked away without any incident. Now in the days of good cell phone cameras, it is so much harder to find these people.

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  2. I used to do Wreck Beach back in the 80s while visiting friends. A great nude beach with ambience. Apparently, it’s not what it used to be. I’ve been told even tour buses stop and drop off people to go down and check the naked people out. There were some unwritten rules and if you were walking around fully clothed, eventually someone would say something to you. And it wasn’t, “Have a nice day.”

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    1. Hmm. Tour buses, you say . . . I’m thinking there is some revenue potential there, as in: I’ll pose for a selfie with any tourist for a price, say, $5 or $10 a picture. Could be quite profitable . . .

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  3. I much prefer the idea of clothes optional beaches. I have friends that don’t feel comfortable naked and this is the only way for us to share a day at the beach. If I don’t like to be forced to wear a swimsuit, why should them be forced to the opposite?
    Of course gawkers can become a problem. It is not nice to have somebody at your side who is there just to look at naked people, but to be sincere, I have seen this attitude also in some nude guys. I guess I’m lucky to live in a country where this kind of people are the exception and not the norm, and usually nudist areas are safe places.
    I don’t have the right answer to this problem, but prohibitions and segregation are hardly ever a good idea.

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  4. I struggle with clothing-optional beaches. I love them for the openness and accessibility. It’s an easy way to try being clothes-free. But they are also frequented by voyeurs. I’ve known people to go and get turned off. Once we lose a person, it’s very hard to convince them to try again. It’s easy for those of us who are experienced and self-confident. But that’s not the state of mind of most newbies. My observations is that clothing-optional does not work in most clubs I’ve visited. So that is why Bare Oaks is not clothing-optional. We explain why here: http://www.BareOaks.ca/WhyNude

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  5. Naked people who object to others being clothed should look up the meaning of the word “optional.”

    Private clubs are another matter, they can have what rules they like. Although I suppose I might decide to show up clothed, and file an anti-discrimination suit. Not really, I’m joking. Say, what do naturalists call law suits? Law nakedness? Still joking. Okay, back to being serious.

    I like the idea of filming people who are filming you. You’d be amazed how many who insist they have a “right” to film other people freak out and complain if they get filmed.

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  6. You say “Even if it were not a necessity no one would have criticize anyone who chose not to remove their clothes”, not true. I always criticize people who are in a naturist setting who wear clothes. When I go to a naturist park I don’t want to see anybody clothed from the moment I step onto the property until the moment I step off. It needs to be very cold before I can understand anybody wearing clothes. I mean zero degrees. Yet, even at Bare Oaks, I see people with clothes on (robes to fully dressed) as soon as the temperature slightly drops, or for any other reason. By night time most people are dressed. I do not understand that. The only way for your body to get used to being naked, is to be naked all the time. Yet even dedicated naturist have problems understanding that. I criticize anybody who is at a naturist place and can not play by the rules. Men, women, teenagers, children, anybody.

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  7. The “naturists” who feel this is a necessary approach should consider that perpetuating the treatment received by society towards naturism “get some clothes on” onto those who ex cerise the optional part of the beach may well cause these few clothing optional beaches to be lost in the long run. Monumental fail in my opinion and short sighted as well.

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  8. Private naturist locations can enforce mandatory nudity. Why else would you go? Clothing optional beaches and areas are just that “optional.” We have to co-exist with people that want to wear clothes. They may have their reasons and not all of them are gwakers or creepers. Some of them may be curious about naturism and this is their chance to experience it slowly to see if it is right for them. I’ve encountered these nudist purists and like devout believers of other practices, they are not tolerant of diverging views.

    Personally I wish more of the clothed would visit nude and clothing optional locations to show them the normalcy of what we enjoy. Like you, I’m quite comfortable being around clothed people. In the past, a few of us acted as welcome committees to approached some of the clothed people and strike up a conversation with them. My girlfriend and I would even pose with foreign tourists for pictures. We found that people were there for several reasons. Some just wanted to come to enjoy the beauty of the beach. We welcomed all, but in the end the goal was to show that naturism is normal and natural. Our attitudes really helped fend off attempts to end the occasional attack to close the beach to nudity. Remember that our acceptance of the textiled is part of a public relations campaign to promote “naturism.” I look at clothing optional beaches as recruiting opportunities; others should too.

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  9. I don’t know if Wrecks Beach and Hanlon’s are private or public, I’ll just echo what others have suggested, those naturists trying to impose nudity on others may find a larger backlash in response which may push to eliminate nudity altogether on those beaches, no options, period. Very short-sighted, indeed.

    At a small beach I frequent, the regulars take responsibility for monitoring things, welcoming newcomers, and being aware of happenings around the place. It is work, by volunteers, which means it’s not pure fun and relaxation for these individuals, but this is a beach where they once had lost their privileges to be nude, so they recognize some of them have to take responsibility, and do so as ambassadors, not enforcers.

    Most resorts or private places, clubs, I’m been to are clothing-optional, with certain areas which are nude-only, like around the pool or beach.

    At one of my earliest visits to a resort, long before I started figure modeling, I had a similar experience as Jillian’s from last weekend. At an outdoor cook-out, it was a rather cool evening and most people kept putting something on to stay warm. Being new to nudism, and at least 20 years younger than about everyone else there, I wasn’t going to mess with my newfound freedom. Soon, I was the only one nude in this crowd of 40 people. Only a couple other visitors mentioned anything, later, and we laughed about it, they wished they’d done the same. And, this experience did come to mind when I was considering modeling sometime later.

    However, I’ve also had those experiences with someone who isn’t unclothed, approaching me in a overly-friendly manner, while I’m nude. Whether this is at the beach or in an art studio, it can be creepy. It’s best to just move towards other people, and the creepy person will likely stop being creepy or they may just leave you alone. Safety in numbers.

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  10. So, I have thought about this a little bit especially considering the excursions I’ve had in my city with Gingerbread around bare chested equality . These outings have given me a different perspective than I’d had before sbout being in a public, open, non-secluded space.

    Going on bare chested walks and bike rides in my city, I have found that people really are just going to look. They might gawk, they might stare, they might even say things. And that is in a city where it is legal for women to be bare chested even though few know that . But the thing is, people are going to look and stare anyway because it is new to them. This is still a huge time of transition where it is not common for women here to be bare chested. So I had to get used to the fact that people are just going to look, and I had to be OK with that because I am choosing to engage in something that is not yet common.

    So when I read arguments from long time naturists and nudists saying that they don’t want to be gawked at, I get it on one hand, I felt the same, and I still don’t want anyone behaving inappropriately towards me or whatever. But at the same time now that I’ve had these experiences in my city in open space regarding bare chestedness, it is giving me a different perspective. We are choosing to do something that is not yet common. We are leading the way. And part of what comes with the territory of leading the way is being stared at, being observed. And that is with so many things in life not just with nudity.

    I have had people look at me for being the only black person in a particular area. Others in the world experience the same thing whether it is not having all of their body parts, looking different, really anything where you are different than what is commonly discussed or portrayed , you’re going to draw attention and people are going to observe you and that comes with the territory.

    And the other piece of this is why are some folks so into forcing people to do things a certain way? Why can’t they except clothing optional as a place where people can choose and we respect each other’s choices? This forcing people to do things one way or the other, to be dressed or not dressed, neither of those extremes is actually about respecting choices.

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  11. Creeps with cameras should be reported for child pornography if they are taking pictures on the beach when other people’s children are present. There’s a difference between taking a tourist’s picture of the beach and hovering around taking closeups of my teenage daughter.

    Just like they would be on a clothed beach the rudest gawkers can be reported to the police for harassment. Some can be reported for hate speach.

    The local nudist organizations are responsible for allowing this to continue. An officially recognized volunteer group of weekend and holiday “guides” could help prevent losing this valuable resource to creeps and haters.

    Liked by 1 person

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