Naturism is different from nudism

Published on July 13th, 2022

Naked boating? That’s what Australians are doing in this report by ABC News:

The risk of rope burn in all the wrong places is a worthwhile price to pay for a group of adventurous naturists preparing to cruise the Whitsundays completely naked.

Navigating north Queensland nude is the latest endeavor for Brendan Jones, the leader of a growing community working to destigmatize nakedness.

“It’s a really nice feeling, standing on top of a mountain with no clothes on,” the Get Naked Australia (GNA) founder said. “Swimming in the ocean or under a waterfall with no clothes on … it’s really deeply human.”

In the space of six years, the 32-year-old has transformed his proclivity for waterhole skinny dips into an organization with thousands of members who get a kick from taking off their kit.

“We’ve formed a community group of people that like to do events outside — whether it be a hike, a swim, a harbor cruise, sunrise yoga — all clothing optional,” he said. “Most people love that you can be naked without it being a weird or sexual environment.”

It has culminated in about 30 naturists who will soon board the 34-metre yacht SV Atlantic Clipper, darting through dozens of iconic Whitsunday Islands off Airlie Beach.

“There’s snorkeling, scuba diving, there’s a water slide on the boat,” Jones said. “Obviously we’re not going to rock up to a populated Whitehaven Beach and run around in the nude. We have to be respectful of other people around.”

According to Jones, what makes naturism different from nudism is the sense of adventure that is meant to accompany it.

“We want to be active. We don’t want to just be sitting around naked for the sake of it,” he said.

Maintaining a non-sexual community is a top priority for GNA, which has a strict policy of running all events with gender balance.

“We [also] have a heavy, heavy screening process for everyone that wants to be involved to make sure everyone’s intentions are pure,” Jones said. “We try to create the safest, most comfortable environment possible.”

That ethos was key for Rikki Yeowart, who had long admired the concept of getting naked in nature before plucking up the bravery to bare all.

“I loved witnessing other people’s liberation … but I never really thought that was something I would strive for,” she said. “Most of my life it was all about external validation.”

Now a nude-yoga teacher, Yeowart admits the idea of mixed gender social nudity initially made her nervous.

“[But] there was no feeling of insecurity, or that maybe I was going to be taken advantage of, or someone was looking at me funny,” she said after taking part in her first naked hike on the Gold Coast. It was just the most comfortable, normal situation, and it blew my mind.”

For the 32-year-old, the voyage represents much more than an unclad cruise through crystal blue waters.

“I have experienced sexual trauma and I have experienced my own shame,” she said. “The sad statistic is that one in three women have experienced sexual [or body] trauma in their life.

“There’s eating disorders, there’s body dysmorphia. There’s so much shame and stigma around the naked body. We’ve been taught that nudity equals sexuality.”

Yeowart said a different mindset about nakedness can be the first step that helps survivors reclaim comfort within their own body.

“That can be a long process normalizing and de-sexualizing nudity.”

Jones said he was amazed how his au naturel network had also helped domestic violence and sexual assault survivors reclaim their bodies.

But on the other end of the spectrum, he faces a constant battle to maintain his community on social media after his Instagram page with 232,000 followers was deleted for explicit content.

“I’ve been trying for 12 months to get it back and have some correspondence from Facebook/ Instagram, but I get absolutely nothing,” he said. “There’s far bigger issues in the world than a bunch of people swimming naked in a creek.”

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