Chronically Clothed: Thoughts on Nudity

Elizabeth Raphaelson, Managing Editor

HeadshotLast year, my cousin posted a link to an article about World Naked Gardening Day, an event celebrated by many horticulturists the first Saturday of every May. The idea behind the event is to tend to your crops and flowers in as raw a state as they are: completely unclothed. My first reaction was pure excitement, followed by extreme disappointment. Sure, I would love to step into my backyard, dig in the dirt and help something grow exactly as I am, but what would the consequences be? What would my family think? My neighbors? Would I be breaking the law?

Laws on nudity fit into Joel Feinberg’s offense theory. This theory states that in order for something to be outlawed, the action doesn’t need to be intrinsically harmful to another, it only has to produce an unpleasant feeling for others (e.g. shame, disgust, anxiety.) So what is it about nudity that makes people feel so shameful and anxious?

I believe one of the main reasons for these negative feelings is our tendency to equate nudity to sexuality. Because we have been conditioned to think of bathing and sex as the only acceptable times to be undressed, we are chronically clothed: it is even expected that while alone you have something on.  Reasons such as hygiene and protection from the environment do not need to be answered by law, but rather by common sense. Only we have a say in whether or not we put on a coat while it’s snowing, so why should a shirt have it’s own law? As for people going fully nude in public places, nudist colonies have already established common etiquette to keep everyone healthy, happy and clean.

I believe that nudity has the potential to facilitate better attitudes on body image and sex.  Outlawing your natural form in public causes people to be ashamed of their bodies, and in turn perpetuates the cycle of sexual confusion and shame. People ogling at the naked body does not spur from nudity, but from a puritanical school of thought that demonizes the very essence of what it means to be human.

As a fashion design major and apparel business owner, I am as big a clothing lover as they come. However, my interest in fashion is how it supplements a person physically and artistically, not in how it covers something that is supposedly short of perfect. The change would demand a huge psychological shift in seeing nudity as commonplace, and not a form of forbidden fruit. I am not talking about a full-fledge shift into a constant state of undress, (that would be impractical on many levels) but just the acceptability of me sitting in my garden, as exactly the person that I am.



  1. It’s great to see such a sensible and, as it happens, accurate discussion of the social taboos against nudity. This is common knowledge in the nudist/naturist community, of course, but it’s always refreshing to see a non-nudist reach these conclusions on their own!

    The next logical step is, in the interest of journalistic integrity, for Ms. Raphaelson to experience social nudism personally to see if her suppositions are valid. A followup article then would be the perfect companion piece!

    There are several fine venues in that region of the country, and winter events do happen, though a summer visit would likely be more rewarding for a first time! Or maybe it’s time for a visit to warmer climes?

    We would suggest that first-timers visit the American Association for Nude Recreation website ( for some good information regarding our wonderful, wholesome lifestyle. For even more info, visit ours!

  2. In Minnesota, and many other states, the relevant statute requires an explicit and deliberate act that is sexual in nature (i.e., lewd or lascivious behavior) in addition to being nude to be convicted of indecent exposure. Unfortunately, most citizens and law enforcement officers seem not to understand that.

  3. your born nude, you work your hole life and when you die, you leave everything behind, including your clothes…so why not live without them?…… one day you will be required to bath with clothes on….to many nuts in the world….

  4. Unfortunately,our comfort and familiarity with the human body is usually formed at an early age. Since many people in this country are raised with unnaturally phobic and sexual ideas about nudity,they grow up to enact and support laws that reflect this,which creates a vicious circle. Breaks in this pattern happen little by little on a daily basis,and I look forward to the day when the laws reflect something a little healthier and more natural.

  5. True observations from a non Nudey!… need more people to come around to your points of view… we Naturists/Nudists/Free spirits or whatever labels we give ourselves (personally I think labels belong on clothes) have been trying to wake society up to these hang ups that are so prevalent about non sexual nudity.

    Slowly I am seeing slight inklings of changes in perceptions like the sentiments expressed in your article, I can only dream that one day non sexual nudity will become as acceptable as stamp collecting.

  6. That is a great article and I agree! Of course, I’m a nudist, but I’m also a Christian who teaches about Christianity in Nudist Resorts (not “Colony”, that has been out for over sixty years).
    I like your analogy to wearing coat when in the cold. Is it against the law to go without a coat when it’s cold? No, we have an option to whether we freeze to death or not. But it is our responsibility as a Christian to at least offer a coat, even if off of our own backs. Which is what “clothing the naked” is all about. Go naked ourselves in order to help someone else.

    Thank you for this article. God bless

    Boyd “Live Nude and Prosper” Allen

  7. Our bodies should remain nude whenever practical.
    Reason? It’s how they’re meant to be!
    Why else would “nudity feel so good”?
    Clothes are sometimes necessary,sometimes optional;nudity is essential for human health.


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