One of the things I read time and again on naturist websites, blogs and in magazines is the concern the older generation of naturists has that there are relatively few young people getting into the lifestyle socially, and the fear they have that naturism will “die out” as a result.
The majority of naturists are 40 and over. Thats perhaps to be expected, as practising naturism socially is something that in reality requires a great deal of personal freedom, financial liberty and willingness to sacrifice other social interests in pursuit of a nude lifestyle – qualities more often found in older people than in younger ones, who are more beholden to families, work, textile friends and financial commitments.
There are plenty of other reasons why more older people than younger people become naturists, though – far too many to explore in one article, and so many diverse ones that it is difficult to provide a definite explanation (if anyone could, it would perhaps be easier to encourage more younger naturists to take it up).
But the overwhelming consensus amongst older naturists writing or being interviewed is that younger people are very much needed and wanted by naturism.
So why is it, then, if young people are so needed, that when young people actually do become involved, the older generation is often lukewarm in their welcome, and appears to much prefer to socialise only with people their own age?
This weekend, my girlfriend and I visited Clover Spa which, if you are unfamiliar or haven’t read any of my older posts, is a naturist spa in the city of Birmingham. It’s a lovely place and we had a great time relaxing in the garden and soaking in the hot tub without clothes on. We would always recommend Clover Spa, particularly to couples (of any age).
But this time was different to previous visits we have made. Previously we’ve gone there with other friends, also 20-somethings. But this time we made the trip by ourselves, just a couple. That was kind of the point – we wanted to do more naturist things as a couple rather than always getting together with friends and others. But it also meant I was a bit more aware of the other spa patrons than if we’d been in a bigger group.
My girlfriend and I were definitely the youngest there. It was a quiet day at the spa (it started to pick up a little when we left, at around 5:30pm), but there were a few other couples in attendance. They were all in their 40s and 50s at least. That didn’t bother us, in fact we’ve come to expect it when visiting naturist places. The lack of people our own age doesn’t put us of from enjoying nude recreation.
But what I did notice on this occaision was that despite the fact that we were all nude, all couples, all apparently English, a distinct divide seemed to exist between us, and the older couples. They all interacted with one another, struck up conversations and were friendly, yet with us, we got silence and barely any interaction. It really seemed as if, as far as they were concerned, we were a different species and they didn’t know what to do with us!
Now, to be fair to them, we weren’t exactly reaching out to them, we weren’t trying to start conversation… but a friendly “hello” or a bit of small-talk about the weather would have been nice! But as it was, we were left with the feeling that they just didn’t particularly want to socialise with young people.
Perhaps they were put off by our appearances? My girlfriend has red hair and a couple of facial piercings; I have a few tattoos. I don’t think it was that though, as one of the couples boasted more tattoos than I have! I think it was perhaps just that they felt they didn’t know how to talk to us; they wanted conversation about houses, foreign holidays, cars and children, and didn’t think we’d be able to keep up.
Which is probably true, but it’s a shame that despite us all being naturists there to have an enjoyable day out, there had to exist that sense of seperateness. I don’t put all the responsibility on the older generation, but the fact is, it is their world we young naturists are venturing into. They need to make us feel welcome, not close ranks and exclude us.
So to any 40+ naturists reading this article, I would say this: reach out to the young people already interested in naturism, as well as just pursuing a hypothetical youth demographic. Young naturists are as diverse as any older naturists – we aren’t all hard-drinking tattooed ‘n’ pierced sexual deviants there to lower the tone of your club and break something.
We’re just you, but a few years before.
So say hello. Be friendly. Try to strike up a conversation. Don’t just sit around chatting to your own age group.
Then maybe you’ll find that instead of older naturists and younger naturists, we’ll all just be naturists.