It isn’t any secret that organized nudity has had a lot of difficulty attracting members of the younger generation to nudist culture for many years. Despite a number of initiatives like the AANR sponsored “Vita Nuda” program aimed at attracting young adults and the College Nudist Society (CNS) which seeks to promote nudist culture among college students, a solution has proven elusive. As a result, the nudist population has gradually been getting older.
The aging of nudists in general of course simply makes creating interest among the 20 and 30 something crowd an even more thornier problem to solve. For the most part and understandably so, young adults typically are not all that fascinated with the idea of visiting nudist clubs and resorts to hang out in the buff with people predominantly old enough to be their parents or even grandparents.
According to the Associated Press article, “Nudists try to attract younger following” (MSNBC.com. 13 May 2007), the American Association for Nude Recreation, estimated at the time that 90 percent of its members were older than 35. Actually, the truth be known, of that 90 percent figure most were well older than 35. In the same article, the membership director for a nudist resort in Woodstock, Connecticut, the Solair Family Nudist Resort, stated that the median age for Solair members was 55. Experience suggests that is likely a pretty similar figure to the median age of AANR members as a group.
Anyone who has visited a Dallas area nudist resort or club recently will discover that what is true of the rest of the nation is true of local nudist resorts as well. More often than not nudists encountered in local clubs fit the same aging demographics. Dallas resorts face the same challenges in attracting younger members raising the unappealing specter of nudist resorts evolving into gated assisted living centers or eventually simply shuttering their facilities. Thus, the motivation for local nudist resorts owners and members to find ways to effectively increase interest among younger adults in participating in nudist culture is as strong in Dallas as anywhere else.
Explanations for the lack of interest among young people
A lot of reasons have been suggested to explain the lack of interest in organized nudity among the nations young adults. First of all, it isn’t just organized nudity that is seeing this phenomena. The rolls of the nation’s social and fraternal organizations (e.g., Masonic Lodge, Lions Club, Order of the Elks, Shriners) and even local churches are having the same difficulties in attracting young adults. The younger generation just seems to be a generation of “non-joiners” who do not feel the same way about holding memberships in groups as did their parents and grandparents. They simply don’t see the benefit to it and unless they see benefits, how it would make their lives better in some meaningful way, they simply aren’t interested.
Another reason, with specific reference to nudism is the thing already touched on. Even young adults who might buy into the whole body acceptance theme espoused by nudists and might not have a problem with being around older nudists, the fact remains that because of the age gap, they don’t perceive established nudist resorts as places where they would find people to socialize with who they felt they would have much in common with. No matter what age a person is, they just naturally feel more at ease in social groups made up of people of similar ages.
Substantial age differences also give rise to differences in philosophies. Young adults today often find things like body piercing and jewelry to be attractive whereas in traditional nudist clubs and resorts, older members are quite resistant to people wearing such ornamentation especially when worn on the breasts or genital areas. Traditional nudism, being non-sexual considers it something of a taboo to do anything that actually draws attention to private areas and many older nudists believe that body jewelry in intimate places does exactly that. Thus, it is easy to see why young adults would have little impetus to want to spend time somewhere they would be subjected to restrictions that for them just don’t make a lot of sense.
The future of nudist culture
There are some readily apparent advantages to having national nudist organizations. Likely, the few rights that nudists have would quickly disappear without them. But perhaps the current state of affairs is telling nudists that if organized nudity is to survive, organized nudity is going to have to change, especially if it expects young adults to find attraction to it and the culture.
Dallas nudist culture and organized nudity is no exception. Nudists are simply going to have to do a better job of selling the younger generations on the benefits of experiencing the freedom and comfort found in social nudity that just can’t be found in any other aspect of life. New programs and new recreational opportunities that appeal to younger Americans are going to have to be forthcoming.
Visiting or taking a membership in one of our own Dallas area clubs and resorts is not an inexpensive proposition and financial considerations are likely another big barrier for participation by young adults here in Dallas as well as elsewhere. Lowered rates for young adults might be part of the answer for stimulating interest. What an upper middle class 55 year old person can afford to spend on a weekend visit or annual membership is often beyond the reach of someone just out of college and starting a job, likely burdened with thousands of dollars in college loans to repay.
Nudism as a culture has so much to offer people, it is certainly hoped that a viable solution to the disconnect between young adults and nudism can be remedied. It would be a real shame if organized social nudity were to pass into history, a simple footnote to something people once did but lost interest in.