* NATURISM FAQ*

THE LAW
What exactly is the current law on nudity in our state parks and national forests? I want to hike nude in some of these beautiful area, but am afraid of being caught nude and arrested or something. What's the straight dope on this?

Here's the scoop on laws within our parks and forests. On federal land, nudity is generally not an offense unless there is a specific ordinance written for that particular location (as in Cape Cod National Seashore). The problem is when state and local law enforcement shares jurisdiction within the park. Local laws may then also apply and may restrict nude use. This is the case at Padre Island National Seashore. Depending on where you are along the shoreline, you may be in a county that patrols the beach and may cite nude beach users. Generally this requires a complaint from a third party, but these complaints are sometimes "arranged". When in the national forests, there is generally no problem with nudity at all, as county deputies just don't patrol these areas. If the county or local government has no law regarding nudity, it reverts back to the state law, which reads; "A person commits an offense (of indecent exposure) if he exposes his anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and he is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act." or "A person commits an offense (of disorderly conduct) if he intentionally or knowingly: Exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act." This is actually a very narrow definition and difficult to prosecute in that recklessness must be proven. In fact, a couple charged with disorderly conduct on the beach recently ended up with only the man being charged, as the anus and genitals of the woman could not be seen even when nude!
The state parks in Texas have a much more stringent ordinance that reads; "It is an offense to: appear nude. Females are considered to be disrobed when their breasts below the top of the areola is exposed except when nursing a baby." In this situation, no reckless needs to be shown and no complaint is needed. This has permitted abuse by some park personnel that gawk at nude park users and then cite them for nudity in remote areas with no one else present.
In Austin, Texas, top free is tolerated well at Barton Springs, and nudity is tolerated around the swimming holes along upper Barton Creek. There is no ordinance against appearing top free anywhere in the city, but social pressure would generally keep it confined to park areas.
Hope this helps clear up the confusion Ray......and keep on truckin'!

PHOTOGRAPHY

I really peeves me when our nudist friends are reluctant to be photographed with us, when they are otherwise quite comfortable with their nudity. How can I convince them that a photo is no big deal?

A little gentle persuasion is OK, but we have to remember when we also were sensitive about possible public exposure and need to respect the boundaries of others. Everyone is in different circumstances, and we all don't have the freedom to be as open with our nudity as we would like. Our occupation, particular supervisor, or position in community politics may make it economically advisable to keep a low profile. This is unfortunate, but is the sad fact of how the world works. Everyone has there own limits as to what they find enjoyable and tolerable. There are still nude events I would be reluctant to participate in even if they were organized. Nude runs through the community have been staged by university student groups and it would be fun to participate in if organized in Austin, but I'm afraid my boss would look dimly on my participation if a photo of moi turned up in the local paper! So respect the boundaries of your friends and educate by your example.

MODESTY
As a woman, was just wondering if it is possible for nudists to be embarrassed? Once someone has gotten used to feeling natural without clothes, is there anything that could embarrass them? I love horseback riding in the nude, but so far have stayed on my own property. I feel that riding on public trails nude would not be embarrassing for me, but want to get your opinion on this.

It is important not to confuse modesty and nudity. We have been taught from the time we were children old enough to understand language that modesty was equated with covering ourselves up with clothing. Now, although we are able to see through the incorrectness of this mind set, we still have the connection in the back of our minds that says modesty equals clothing, therefor nudity must equal embarrassment. It's hard to get past this, but they really have nothing to do with each other. Modesty is a state of mind, not a state of dress. Embarrassment also is a state of mind, and is triggered not by how much cloth we have covering our body, but the details of the social situation we find ourselves in.
Visiting a nude beach for the first time might be embarrassing if we were the first to arrive and no one else got nude. "Terry, I told you to take the path to the left from the parking area!" The sticky part comes when we have the right to be nude or top free in an area but almost no one is exercising the right. Embarrassment and the fear of ridicule will limit nude use of the area by those who lack the social support of other nude users. This is one of the primary reasons for joining a local nudist club. As an example, top free dress is legal in all Austin parks, but it is seldom exercised. Barton Springs has been used top free intermittently for years and more such use is needed or the clothed norm will prevail. I would encourage you to ride on the city's riding trails top free with others that share your interest.

NUDIST / NATURIST LABEL
I have just started visiting nude beaches and don't really consider myself a "nudist", as this seems to connote a whole lifestyle, and I am definitely not nude all the time. I'm usually only nude when there is a definite reason for being nude. What's the next step from here?

It's funny, how easily we adapt to the nude lifestyle and then wonder how we ever had any difficulty with being nude before! Yet, there was a time........! Let's explore a common progression of nude recreation to see where various comfort levels exist.
I would bet that the most common first time experience for nude recreation would be skinny dipping, usually alone or in the company of good friends when we were young. There may have been only a few events scattered over many years before finally discovering that there were lots of people that also enjoyed the pleasure of swimming without garments! Slowly it became more comfortable to remain nude in other activities, such as volleyball and tennis at nude resorts. Nude hikes on the beach, then along deserted wooded paths and sunbathing in secluded areas of a park. Then more nudity around the home, where daily activities of food preparation, cleaning and office work could be done in the nude. Although all of these participants could be called nudists, their comfort level varied depending on the circumstances for being nude. Beginners usually need to have a justification for being nude. Avoiding wet clothes, keeping cool, avoiding chiggers and ticks, or tanning every inch of our hide are all reasons used by the beginning naturist / nudist. These are the practical reasons that we can easily justify in our own minds and are used to answer the questions of others.
Beyond this point it becomes comfortable for us to be nude any time it is possible. We stay nude just because it feels good to be rid of our constricting clothing and we can get into more immediate contact with our surroundings. There is a natural sensuality in being nude that is at once natural and nurturing. Nudity is a state of being that lifts our self esteem and sets us free. So don't worry that you haven't got a good excuse to be nude. There may not be a social gathering to go to or a convenient swimming hole to skinny dip in, but we can still experience the natural sense of well being by just shedding our shell!

RELUCTANT SPOUSE
I have just been introduced to nude recreation and I love it! I can't understand why I waited so long to look into this! I just wish my husband was as enthusiastic. He does not want to have anything to do with nude recreation. How can I convince him nude recreation will be beneficial for both of us?

Your husband may have several obstacles to hurdle before he can participate with you in social nudism. I'm sure you have explained there is no sexual connotation to simple nudity, but this may be an idea that is difficult to accept after growing up in a society that associates sex with nudity. He may be concerned about embarrassment from erection, sexual competition from other males, or just feel uncomfortable being nude. Let him know that the first two concerns are non-issues. Almost all males experience some twinge of sexual arousal at first, but usually within minutes this disappears. Let him know that you will feel much more comfortable if he is there with you sharing in the nude experience. Also complement him when he is nude. Let him know that the human form is as it should be, wrinkles, bulges and all! Your voiced appreciation will go a long way towards his own body acceptance. If it is difficult for him to talk about nudity, it is best not to push the issue, but try to encourage participation in private, non-social sunbathing time. A swim or hot tub soak at a mutual friend's is the next step. Go slow, as we all have skeletons in the closet, and it takes both courage and a desire for personal growth to face them and transform them into something positive.

"EXPOSING" THE PUBLIC
Now that we've gotten used to swimming without a suit, it really irks me to have to put one on in order to swim at a public pool. Rather than not swim at all, my husband and I would like to participate with the public, but at the same time educate by example. How can we do this and remain legal?

Your frustration is well taken. I know how confining a wet shell can feel! There are a lot of neat swimming sites that are not clothing optional and really should be. It is also not always possible to attend a landed club or nude recreation site in the free time you have. Under these circumstances you simply do the best you can with the limitations imposed. So what are the alternatives?
Depending on the location and the circumstances, sometimes rules can be bent and a skinny dip can still be enjoyed. We have done this many times in national forest areas or isolated areas of Texas State Parks. When "threads" or the clothing compulsive are around, we have to conform to the law, but at the same time may use minimal body coverage as a way of desensitizing the clothing compulsive public to the view of a little more of the human body.
At each point in the development of shorelines as recreation, some of the public had to brave the possible comments from others and take off a piece of their swimming costume. Men first bared their lower legs and arms, with women exposing only their arms at first. It must have taken as much courage for the first woman to bare her legs at a public beach as it does now for a woman to doff her top. There will always be bold, confident individuals that want to exercise their own freedoms and extend the social boundaries of body acceptance. We must picture ourselves in that role if we really believe in the benefits of body acceptance.
If there is no municipal or local ordinance stating otherwise, women in Texas may go top free and both men and women need only cover their genitals to be "legal". There is never a problem with minimal (thong or T-back) attire including top free at Barton Springs, even on busy weekends. Especially if you are attending public pools during off hours when there is less of a crowd, use of a thong is quite acceptable. There may be some muffled comments about your thong or top free style, but you will be completely within the law. You will also be demonstrating to a less enlightened public that increased skin exposure is OK and in good taste in appropriate settings. As the public gets accustomed to increased body exposure, they will be tempted to join in the fun themselves! So go ahead and grab that cool swim after work. Being as nude as possible feels better and takes the public one step closer to full body acceptance.

FOOTWEAR
This may sound stupid, but I have a problem with footwear while going nude. I mean, it seems so contrived to be wearing tennis shoes and white socks when the rest of me is nude! I feel much more natural and I know I look more natural if I just go barefoot, but most places in Texas it just isn't possible. What's your perspective on this?

If a person is interested in displaying his or her body in a way they think is natural and total nudity is determined to be necessary for this, then I guess it might matter. This may sound stupid, but what we wear or don't wear when we are nearly nude doesn't matter! Naturism / nudism is all about getting past our clothes and how they appear to others. As we become more accustomed to social nudity we also become more comfortable with wearing or not wearing articles of clothing that may or may not go with our sun tan. Clothing comes to be seen from a utilitarian point of view. A hat to ward off the noon day sun, a T-shirt to keep away the evening chill and even sneakers so we don't burn our feet on the hot asphalt. What social nudism is all about is how we are accepted by those around us. In the clothes compulsive society, what we wear is crucial to that acceptance. In the nudist setting, only who we are on the inside matters. Appearance is a legitimate part of nudism, but it isn't everything........ acceptance is, and you will be accepted regardless of your footwear.

MALE ERECTION
I read your last answer about appearance when nude and I wholeheartedly agree. I do have a problem that relates to appearance however, and has nothing to do with sneakers. I'm referring to the male reaction of erection. This is one of the first questions I hear asked by male newcomers to nude recreation, and the standard answer is that it isn't a problem. Maybe for most of you it isn't, but there are a few of us that struggle to keep the little guy under control when the circumstances are particularly sensuous. I envy the guys that can handle having sunscreen smoothed over their torso by the opposite sex and never get a rise. How can I cope with this and not become shunned by other nudists as some kind of pervert?

I empathize with your situation, but I'm sure there are many old male nudists out there that would willingly trade places with you! In fact, one old boy from a Georgia landed club named his little dinger "South" and would tell everyone that someday South would rise again! Seriously, it's true that once you're accustomed to all the nudity you are no more likely to get turned on than if everyone were clothed. But men do get turned on when clothed, it just goes un-noticed by the public. When you find yourself in a sensuous situation that is causing a rise, you can:
1. Diplomatically excuse yourself and go cool off. A quick dip in the pool is a good way to relax the little bugger.
2. If it is socially difficult to remove yourself, steer the conversation to a non-sexual, non-sensual topic. Bring up your interest in a hobby, politics or sports team. Where the mind wanders, the little lizard follows!
3. You can always sit down and be honest about your sensitivity. You will get sympathy and respect from those you are honest with.
Among nudist friends you have a wonderful opportunity to be more open and casual about natural body functions. When we shed our shell we accept each other regardless of "handicapping" condition. You will soon find you can control the urge for erection and after a while you'll be getting that torso of yours sun screened like the pros.

NATURISM / SEXUALITY
We have been recreating nude as a couple for about a year now and are beginning to feel more comfortable about social nudity, but don't really consider ourselves nudists. One thing that continues to haunt me is the connection with sexuality that the rest of society makes with social nudity. This was so ingrained into me that I still have a hard time separating it out myself. Not that I get embarrassed any more, but sexual thoughts do cross my mind ever once in a while when we are socially nude. What are you're thoughts on this?

You are expressing the natural emotions and feelings of being human, whether or not you have clothes on. We as nudists, often want to show the world (and ourselves) that social nudity has nothing to do with sexuality. So we go overboard with efforts to sterilize our social nude gatherings until there is no trace of sexuality left. This is a denial of our humanity. Any feeling that you would have in mainstream society with your clothes on is also OK when you are in a nude environment. We don't stop being sexual beings when we shed our clothes, yet we don't artificially emphasize our sexuality either. Rather than wear something that calls attention to certain parts of the body connected with sexuality, we can just be our natural selves.
It has been noted by many anthropologists studying tropical cultures that their lack of clothing did not lead to promiscuity. In fact, when the intent was to get eligible men and women together for marriage; elaborate ceremonies and dances were performed, replete with the addition of cloth, beads, tattoo and body paint to call attention to their individual sexuality. Whatever the normal dress code is, will be perceived as sensually boring, even nudity when it is the norm. Eventually we get to a space where we realize we have been talking nude with this beautiful person of the opposite sex for twenty minutes and have only looked at their face. At this point we have come to realize that it is the inner person that really counts, and bodies, however beautiful, are just the wrapping that encloses them. It's funny, we go through the anxiety of taking off our clothes around others, worrying about the sexual implications of our act, only to get accustomed to it to the point we forget we are nude! You're on the right track Buck. Just take it easy on yourself, your feelings are just as natural as everyone else's.

*INCLUDING THE NEIGHBORS *
I'd love to invite my neighbors over to enjoy our hot tub, but just don't know how to go about it without it seeming like we have an agenda! How do we enjoy our tub with the neighbors and still seem like normal neighbors ourselves?

There are plenty of ways to meet the neighbors and invite them over for another activity that just happens to include a hot tub soak as part of the activities. One method we have used is inviting our friends for a dinner and let them know we have a hot tub that we plan to use for a relaxing soak after the meal. I include that the hot tub provides an ideal place for meaningful conversation. I also always make it a point to invite them to any nudist activities that are happening at our house, just as an open invitation, letting them know that we may be outside and that's what all the activity is. This may be a perfect opportunity to break the ice and invite them to a friendly dinner. A simple dinner with another family is always less threatening to newbies, as they don't have to worry about meeting a larger group of strangers in the nude. Plan ahead to handle the desert and dishes later and your guests will be ready to relax with good conversation in the hot tub.
Terry

COMING OUT TO FAMILY
One of the things I just dread is having to explain to my parents that our family is involved in nude recreation. It gives me butterflies just thinking about it! Sooner or later it will probably come up, but the suspense in killing me! How can I hasten the event and still soften the blow?

This can be a ticklish topic, but if handled with matter-of-fact dignity, your parents will be impressed with your honesty. One way to broach the topic is to use some obvious signs of participation, such as bumper stickers or T-shirts with your organization's logo. When in your own home, leave nudist literature out where it can be a conversation starter. When the topic even slightly turns in the direction of beaches, swimming, hiking, hot weather, hot tubs or anything that, a cross reference to nude recreation can be a perfect lead in to your nudist activity. Just drop a remark like "when Theresa and I were at the lake this summer, we didn't have to bother with suits, and it was so liberating!" There might be a lot of questions, but generally not. Parents of grown adults have long ago let go of their offspring, and do not feel slighted when their children grow in directions and interests they themselves did not participate in.
I remember this summer when my in-laws finally found out we were nudists, my father in law, when alone, confided with us about their own nude adventures while sailing the warm Pacific. It was his way of saying don't worry, it's OK, done that, been there! Other parents may be less receptive, but they will usually respect your decision and appreciate your forthrightness. Talk it over before you invite them out to Hippie Hollow or Star Ranch, but don't put it off too long.......tension leads to indigestion!

NATURIST / TEXTILE TOLLERANCE
I recently went back to my favorite nude swimming spot and found it taken over by textiles with dogs, loud radios and small children. What a bummer! How do we prevent textiles from spoiling our wonderful hideaways where we can skinny-dip in peace?

Wouldn't it be nice if our remote pieces of paradise would remain unchanged forever! It just ain't so! The world continues to gain in population and those people will seek out the same beautiful places you have found. But let's look at this. Your comments betray the same lack of acceptance that others use against our clothes free recreation choice. When in a public recreation area, we need to remind ourselves to be as accepting of others as we would have them be to us. If they are willing to put up with our nudity, we should be able to put up with the not so slight inconvenience of their dogs and music. Sometimes the atmosphere is totally changed, and the situation just isn't comfortable any more. Sometimes those "textiles" are just looking for an excuse to strip off their clothes, but don't want to be the first to bare their hide! Remember when you were a "textile"? If you can deal with the atmosphere, strip down and enjoy yourself. Your conduct is their example to follow!

NUDE AT HOME
I understand the naturalness of the nude human body, but I find it difficult to go nude around the house when a neighbor might drop in any time. I also feel awkward going nude around my kids when there is no outside activity to be socially nude for. Any ideas?

One of the more difficult transitions my wife and I made was going nude at home around the kids when there was no particular reason to be nude. In the past we had been nude as a family at the beach, at nude resorts, at the lake, and never paid much attention to privacy after a shower. As we attended more nude social functions and became more comfortable with being nude in a social setting, I began to go nude more in the warm months. After a shower, I would just remain nude. After coming home from work, instead of changing, I just stripped down and washed up, remaining nude for the rest of the evening. At first, my wife thought this was a little weird. What if someone comes to the door? It really bothered her to think she might be caught in the nude by a neighbor. Usually, the doorbell was one of our children's friends coming over to play. We still feel that it is best to ask those that have not seen us nude before, if they mind our being nude when we answer the door.
After the initial awkwardness wore off, we began to go nude more often at home. Now my significant other is nude in the home nearly as much as I am and shows very little concern about being caught in the nude by someone ringing the doorbell. Here are some precautions that will ease the transition and make nude in the home more of a natural flow.
- use a chance to change clothes or wash up as a transition to shed the work shell of the day and continue your time at home in the nude.
- Keep a towel or big T shirt handy to throw on for the unexpected visitor that you know will be offended by your nudity. Always ask, even if using the cover up, if it was really necessary. You may be surprised to find that your efforts to protect the sensitivities of your guest were not even needed.
- Use a sign outside that indicates that the occupants may be nude. We have found that our sign "Terrapin Residence - Clothing Optional" sign hardly even generates comment. Never act surprised if you are "caught" in your bare essentials. It is natural to be nude! The more nonchalant and cool your reaction, the more relaxed and matter of fact will be their reaction!

WINTER NATURISM

During the winter, I just can't seem to think of many opportunities to be nude. How about some suggestions for going nude in the dark, cold days of winter for beginners like myself.

Your initial reaction is correct, as in cooler weather, we conserve our energy and keep the house on the cool side (68 degrees). So we do what is practical and put on clothes to keep the body comfortable. As the season wears on, however, the body begins to accommodate to the cooler air temperatures and you may find yourself comfortably nude outside on a sunny day with air temperature in the 60's. You may not even realize that you have lots of opportunity to be nude in the winter! The first situation that comes to mind is your nightly nap. There isn't any reason for a nudist to be sleeping in bed clothes! That's one third of your time each 24 hour "day"! Right after a nude sleep, a treat my little turtles enjoy is drying off after a shower in front of the wood stove on a cold morning (us big turtles enjoy it to!). You can improvise with any kind of space heater. On a clear, cold day in winter, the low afternoon sun may not be very warm outside, but it streams through the south windows to warm the floors and interior. Spread a towel or pad out on the floor and enjoy! You probably won't get a tan with a winter sun through glass windows, but the relaxing warmth is worth it anyway! On those days when the sun won't shine, renew your fitness program and do just a few of those exercises that got skipped during the heat of summer. You'll soon be shedding your shell to keep from overheating!