Normal vs. Natural

One of the criticisms of naturism is that it is not normal. The argument goes something like this, “It’s not normal behavior to go around without clothes on. It’s not what normal people do.” This is somewhat true, that is, in our culture. Some cultures would venture to say that it’s not normal to have clothes on, but that is for another article. We will focus this post strictly on our Western modern cultural landscape.

The truth is, nudity, especially social nudity is not normal. That is why nudists and naturist are on a mission to “normalize nudity.” The various hashtags abound on social media in efforts to sway public opinion.

My argument for this post is that it’s ok to be different. Normal is oftentimes boring, and sometimes just plain wrong. Booker T. Washington is credited as saying, “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.” I love that quote and it goes to show that “normal” is popular, and popular, though widely accepted, isn’t always best.

That’s why I want to introduce a better question. I don’t want to ask if ditching clothes is or isn’t normal. I want to ask of the two sides (clothing compulsive vs. clothing optional), which is more natural? We know textiles win the debate about which is normal. Although, it’s funny how many normal people really like to get “comfortable” when they have sufficient privacy. It’s comical to me how during the pandemic and the onslaught of zoom calls, how normal the joke about not wearing any pants flowed!

But which is more natural? This is where naturists excel. Both words naturist and natural share the same root word as they are tied to nature. Normal people do generally like the call to nature, and all things organic, but they draw a line before going all crazy hippie like the abnormal naturist contingency. (I realize not all naturists are hippies or crazy.) In fact, we tend to break many of the stereotypes and certainly prove to be a wide cross section of society at large.

It’s been said that humans are the only “animal” that wears clothes. It’s true, some people dress up their pets. (And that’s all sorts of weird!) It’s also true that we don’t have fur to cover us. Animal kind is definitely very natural in the sense that they are free to roam without any artificial coverings or costumes about them. And yet, we don’t see a dog and say, look a naked dog. We just call it a dog. When you stop and think about it, hiding yourself under layers and layers of clothing is unnatural. It may be normal, but it is not natural, especially in certain instances, say work, sport, swimming. The ancients knew this, and we have all but forgotten it… sadly.

Naturism is not the “sensible” option for the masses, those that perpetuate this unnatural body taboo. However, which perspective is more healthy and should be considered normal? I imagine this humorous exchange between a “normal” person and a “natural” person or naturist:

“Normal” person: “Are you seeing this??? That woman is stark naked!!!”

“Natural/Naturist” person: “Who? Her? Oh, that’s Jessica! Her husband is Ronnie. They live in…”

This makes me chuckle because there is such a contrast between the two perspectives! Expanding on this and thinking a bit more deeply on the matter would “uncover” these differences as well:

Normal men see a clothed woman, and imagine her naked, wishing they could see her body.

Natural/Naturist men see a naked woman and imagine who the person inside the body is, wishing to know her story.

Normal men obsess about the body. 

Natural/Naturist men aren’t phased by it.

A normal dad might yell at his kids if they walk in on him in the bathroom, “What’s wrong with you??? Get out of here!”

A natural/naturist dad would greet them with a smile and probably a funny one liner like, “Top of the morning to you!” in a funny voice. OK, maybe that’s just me!

Yes, naturists usually have a great sense of humor and like to have a good time. That can lead to being a bit weird. But, personally, having lived both a normal existence and a couple awesome years more natural as a naturist, I’d hang up my normal hat for good if I needed to. 

If it’s normal to follow Hollywood and Madison Avenue’s lead in objectifying and dehumanizing women, and if it’s normal for Christian men to outwardly buck at this cultural norm, but inwardly be so overcome by lust, going along with the culture, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather be natural and see all people as made in the image of God and worthy of respect and dignity.

If it’s normal to wear a soggy bathing suit when swimming, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather be natural and feel the sensation of water all over my body, and be able to air dry and soak in the sun without any hindrance.

If it’s normal to hide our bodies and genitalia from our children, thinking it’s immodest and obscene and teaching them the same, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather be natural and show them what real bodies look like, and teach them that it’s ok not to have super model figures. I’d rather porn-proof my boys this way, satisfying their curiosity and making commonplace nudity the norm, so the allure of pornography loses its power entirely. I’d rather my daughter grow up confident, accepting her body as it is, and loving herself for who she is.

If it’s normal to make snap judgments about others on the basis of their appearance, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather converse and get to know the whole person and base my judgments off of that discovery!

There’s a great post on the nudeandhappy.com blog. I especially appreciated this part, “Psychologically, it’s not always [easy] to be seen as the weirdo… Let’s face it though. There are millions of nudists around the world. You have dozens of naturism federation and associations that promote wholesome, simple and social nudity. You are NOT a weirdo. I actually believe that the textiles who find the naked body disgusting or harmful are the weirdos, but this is my point of view.” Well, it’s mine too!

I think the point is clear. Normal is easy, and it’s overrated. Many years ago, Arby’s (say what you want about them) had a clever slogan – “Different is good.” Standing out is better than fitting in. The gain from conforming to cultural, social, and religious norms if not worth the pain of the twisted view of the body which results from these standards. The body is wrongly deemed improper, lewd, and obscene in and of itself, ignoring entirely the embodied soul’s actions which can be good or bad. People are ultimately responsible with what they do with their bodies. Evil can occur whether one is clothed or naked, just as good can be accomplished in both states.

The question boils down to whether you like the normal (status quo) way things are in the world today. I don’t. I’m quite annoyed with things as I look out at the world (a divine discontentment you could say, or a holy dissatisfaction). I’m good in my own little world, but society is not! I’ve heard it said many times now, that if everyone was naked like naturists prefer life, the world would naturally be a happier place. Natural is better, kinder, and more life-giving. Between normal and natural, for me, there’s not question. I’m done being normal!