More People Getting Naked During Coronavirus Lockdown
By Cecilia Rodriguez
While connected to the current heat wave in sweltering Europe and to changes in attitude about the body, polls show that a rising popularity of nudism in many countries of the world is also linked to Covid-19 confinement.
Naturists associations have been noting the interest in nudism and increases in their membership during the coronavirus pandemic — and the media is paying attention: “You Can Leave Your Mask On: Nudists Wear Just One Item in Covid Times,” the Wall Street Journal headlines a recent story. The take in Vice: “The Ongoing Battle to Convince Nudists to Wear Face Masks,” while The Telegraph runs with “Clothes off, masks on: America’s nudist resorts reopen.” France 24 reports that “Nudists adapt to Covid times,” as CTVNews reports on “Getting naked in quarantine: Interest peaks in nudist lifestyle.”
In other words, nudism has become a thing.
The renewed interest in shedding clothes as people flock to beaches, mountains, nature trails and resorts in this hot summer has been linked to the hunger to experience a new sense of freedom as we emerge from months of lockdowns or, as Vice explains,“some go nude to eliminate materialistic barriers.”
Nudism on the rise
The fact is that naturists associations from Britain, France, Italy and the United States, among others, are reporting increases in membership over recent months — by as much as 31% between May and July in the case of Ireland, for example, as reported by Newstalk.
“The number of new people joining us has almost tripled since the beginning of the U.K. lockdown at the end of March,” British Naturism’s commercial manager, Andrew Welch, told CNN.
“Now that more people are working from home, Welch believes that “fewer people are worried about what to wear – or haven’t bothered with clothes at all.” British Naturism has registered over 370 new members since the pandemic began.
For Laurent Luft, president of the Association des Naturistes de Paris (ANP), a very active nudists’ group operating since 1953, the rise of interest in nudism could be due to the fact that “when you’re feeling confined and closed in…taking your clothes off becomes a way to free yourself a little. So, even in our tiny little Parisian apartments, with no gardens and sometimes no balcony or anything, we still have that possibility.”
Naturism goes virtual
As is the case for the travel and tourism industry, with trips largely curtailed and vacation resorts across the world suffering from cancellations, nudists’ destinations are no exception. No different than their clothed counterparts, naturist travelers have had to cancel holidays and business owners are struggling with the financial implications.
It helps that over the past few months of lockdown and like many other organizations, nudists associations have shifted to virtual platforms to offer novel approaches including nude yoga, gym classes, cooking seminars and creative competitions such as the World Naked Gardening Day photo contest.
The French Naturist Federation has been hosting live streams and posed at-home challenges for their members during lockdown — events including staging nature photoshoots and organizing a competition for the best naked gardening pictures, among other activities, with a clear condition: Members should comply with face masks.
Luft, from Paris’s ANP (which in normal times organizes naked visits to art galleries, clothing-optional bowling nights and sunbathing au naturel in the designated nudist sheltered spot in Paris’s Bois de Vincennes) confirms the shift: “People have been following our videos and sent emails saying, ‘You’ve inspired us to give it a go.’”
The Irish Naturist Association, which marks more than 50 years of naturism, is also connecting members virtually through a full calendar of social activities including coffee-shop hangouts and celebrating the World Naked Gardening Day.
The naturist community’s pivot toward the virtual world has allowed the associations to stay alive and permitted more people to connect with like-minded individuals in their countries and across the globe.
Leticia Medina, event coordinator for the Irish Naturist Association, told Insider that the organization’s international chats attract nudists from Mexico, France, Spain, Britain, Brazil, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, among others.
Naked with masks? The big question
“Stripping off and sharing a hot tub with other naked humans might not seem like the best thing to do in a pandemic,” muses The Telegraph in an article about the big question around nudists’ circles: When wearing a face mask, are you really naked?
“But being around naked people is no different to being around those with clothes when it comes to the spread of coronavirus – if rules are being adhered to,” the paper adds.
As more crudely explained by TMZ, “the face mask controversy is officially everywhere, because even nudist resorts are requiring guests to cover up, a decision that’s chapping some bare asses.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that while most nude resort visitors are taking the one-piece-of-clothing rule in stride, there are others who refuse. A clothing-free resort in Connecticut, the paper explains, prides itself on a “no tan lines” motto. So, it’s been a difficult adjustment and some guests have complained of mask’s tan lines.
Nakationing: clothes-free vacationing
“Across America, state and local governments are easing lockdowns and travel restrictions and nudist resorts began reopening in mid-May with changes in place such as social distancing,” The Telegraph reports.
Before the lockdown, the paper explains, ‘nakationing’ – clothes-free holidays – in the U.S. “was a multibillion dollar-a-year industry, with Florida laying claim to more nudist resorts than any other state and millennials and Gen Xers driving the experience forward as a travel trend. Even globally, nude recreation and travel accounted for a healthy $400 million slice of the industry’s fiscal pie.”
As with others in the tourism industry, nudists destinations are “trying to climb back to some sense of normality.” To get there, they most obey and establish health and safety protocols for the protection of guests and staff.
But, for some, as Vice writes, “covering your face contradicts the naturist lifestyle.”
With or without controversy, and with or without clothes, as Luft explains to CNN, “people want to be totally naked and the mask is a covering. But this isn’t an item of clothing. It’s about health and safety.”
Even Cap d’Agde, a well-known seaside nudist destination considered the largest naturist resort in the world, Vice explains, “where you find supermarkets, boutiques, hair salons and even a post office with a recommended undress code, visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask with their birthday suit.”
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