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Behavior rules; what the public thinks

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How to behave:

There are rules of behavior at nudist resorts and beaches. They vary in strictness. A generic set of rules is available online. 1 In abbreviated form, the guidelines include:

bullet Parking: observe all parking restrictions.
bullet Access: don't cross private property without permission. Avoid dunes; they are ecologically delicate.
bullet Boundaries: Determine where the boundaries of the nude area are, either by searching for signs or asking. 
bullet Behavior: Open sexual behavior is not allowed, and can get you arrested. Staring is bad form.
bullet Trash: Leave nothing but footprints behind. Try to leave the site cleaner than when you arrived.
bullet Photos: Take no photographs or videos of anyone without their prior permission. 
bullet Supplies: Bring at least a towel, sunscreen, a bathing suit for entering and leaving the area, water, food, drinks, and a bag for trash.
bullet Action: If you see anyone behaving badly, talk to them; most do it out of ignorance. 

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Naturism: Public Beliefs and Reality

A Gallup Organization poll in 1983 found that 72% of American adults agreed that "People who enjoy nude bathing should be able to do so at beaches accepted for that purpose." A Roper Poll, taken at an unknown date found that "18% of all Americans and 28% of college educated Americans have skinny-dipped in mixed company."

The Federation of Canadian Naturists published a 1999 National Survey on Canadian Attitudes Towards Nudity. 2 Canadians have been described as "Americans, without guns but with universal health care." So, their opinions may well be similar to those of the American public. The survey was conducted by mail with a 51% response rate. That is unusually high for a mail survey. They found:

bullet 2.7 million Canadians (8.9% of households) either have visited or are willing to visit clothing-optional locations. 
bullet An additional 3.5 million Canadians (11.6% of households) are "comfortable with skinny-dipping in mixed company.
bullet 11.8 million Canadians (39% of households) have walked or would walk around their house nude.
bullet Naturists tend to have above-average incomes. The most common category are adults who earn over $60,000/year income in Canadian dollars (about $40,000 U.S.)

An American web site conducted an open debate about nudism. It contained many dozens of "pro-nudism" responses contributed by persons who found naturist experiences to be positive and liberating. There were relatively few negative or neutral ones:

bullet Coptic Orthodox: Nudity is corruption and or leads to corruption
bullet Irish/Taoist: Nudity is OK in moderation.
bullet USA, Catholic, Republican: Nudism is fine as long as it is not done to inhibit sexual stimulation outside the confinds [sic] of a marital relationship. 
bullet Con: Does nudism constitute child abuse in the U.S.? Much of what I'm finding out suggests it does.
bullet Con: I'm not completely opposed to nudity, but I hold some dissapproval [sic]. (And besides, the Cons need help here.) The point here is as follows: anyone can justify naturism by saying "oh, it's natural" or "it's not a sexual issue" or by some other rational ar [rest of comment was truncated]
bullet Con: Naturism is alien to God's plan for human beings. When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, they were naked and exposed. God prepared skins for them to wear to cover their nakedness. An interpretation of this act may be that God knew that when men and women were exposed, they would lust, especially since they had sinned and brought damnation on the whole race. So cl;othing [sic] helps to restrain the immoral thoughts that might otherwise run rampant with nudity.
bullet Con: Some consider it immoral.

Many non-nudists typically link nudism with sexual activity. They assume that:

bullet Naturist resorts are scenes of non-stop sexual activities.
bullet Only extremely attractive women and highly sexed men go there.
bullet Men have a great deal of trouble avoiding erections.
bullet Sunburns and insect bites are major hazards.

None of the above are true. In reality:

bullet Naturist facilities have well defined rules that limit behavior. Some even totally ban holding hands or other touching. Sexual activity is totally forbidden in public.
bullet People of all body types visit naturist resorts; nudists differ little from other adults, except that naturists probably have, on average, a higher standard of living and a greater educational attainment.
bullet Erections are quite rare, even for the first timers. One naturist reported that they had never seen one in two decades.
bullet When one considers the small percentage of the human body covered by modern bikinis and skimpy male bathing suits, the additional skin exposed by the nude body does not add significantly to the danger of sunburn or the number of insect bites.

Many naturists report the following feelings as a result of attending nudist facilities:

bullet Exhilaration and freedom are the most common emotions, felt both by first time and experienced nudists
bullet A degree of initial embarrassment and apprehension is felt by some during their first visit. This usually fades in a matter of minutes. In fact, most people would be more embarrassed to remain clothed while surrounded by nude bodies. In the "textile" world, to be nude is taboo. But this is not an absolute taboo; it does not carry over to a nudist resort where the rules of behavior are different.
bullet Some naturists report an improved acceptance of their own bodies, feelings of relaxation, a healthier attitude towards sexuality and other benefits. Few report negative experiences.
bullet Nudism is a great leveler. By shedding clothes, there are no indicators of a person's status. One cannot differentiate between bankers, and the unemployed; between clergy and laity; between police officer and ordinary citizen.  

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  1. Rules concerning behavior at nude and free beaches is available from a number of web sites:
    bullet "Naturist beach etiquette," is available at:
    bullet "Free beach etiquette" is at:
  2. "1999 National Survey on Canadian Attitudes Towards Nudity." at:  You need software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:

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Copyright 1996 to 2001 incl. by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2001-NOV-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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