General view of Bonn conference

An international conference on the theme “Challenges to Naturism” concluded that individual naturists, national federations and the INF-FNI need to do more to spread positive messages about naturism.

Some 40 people took part in the conference, which took place in Bonn alongside the annual meeting of EuNat, the European arm of the INF-FNI, during the weekend of 11-12 March.  A number of others joined by videoconference.

Sönke Reise, chair of the organisation GetNakedGermany, made the keynote presentation, identifying no less than 13 principal challenges, including cultural and social attitudes, body shaming, false perceptions of an overlap between nudity and sex.  During discussion, participants especially abhorred the practice of some pornographic websites and swingers’ establishments to misuse the word “naturist”.

Social media presented other problems, including the discriminatory approach towards the female nipple.

In its conclusions, the conference stressed the importance of naturists, clubs, federations and the INF-FNI speaking prominently to press, politicians and the public to explain naturism and its benefits.  Better marketing, and a more coherent message by the federations and the INF-FNI was important, as was reaching beyond the established naturist community to demonstrate naturism in its diverse forms – including the “wow” factor of unusual naturist events.

And the INF-FNI itself should be more proactive in its public communications and grasp obvious opportunities for positive messages.

The meeting in Bonn took place at the invitation of the Deutscher Verband für Freikörperkultur (DfK), the German naturist federation, and its president, the EuNat Secretary, Wilfried Blaschke.  The conference is the first of what is intended to be a series of events of this kind to be held every two years.

Read the full conference conclusions here.

The 13 challenges to naturism identified by Sönke Reise were:

  1. Shame of being naked, brought about by religion, tradition, education, or culture.
  2. Body shaming – noting that there was evidence that body shame could be countered by the acceptance of being naked, and that being naked also built confidence
  3. The false perception that nudity = sex. This was made worse by the habit of some pornography websites to hide behind the title of “naturist”.
  4. Voyeurist public media – the habit of the media to present naturism in a voyeuristic way; serious media work is required
  5. Visibility of the naturist federations – people do not understand sufficiently what the national naturist federations are doing
  6. Volunteers – there are advantages and disadvantages to federations being run principally by volunteers. Bringing in some professionals can make federations more effective.
  7. Age of naturists – many decision-makers in naturism are among the older generation; there’s a need to attract more younger people and understand their needs
  8. Gender Balance – in many countries there are far more men than women in naturism; question is how to attract more women
  9. Tolerance and the state of law – it varies from country to country. Do we need a human right to be naked? Is top free equality a step in the right direction?
  10. Visibility of clubs – we are seeing a move away from secrecy; clubs can use local press, social media, websites etc. The availability of the “Naturist Symbol” for universal recognition was discussed.
  11. Universal smart phones and internet – they carry the risk that naturists might be photographed against their will when naked
  12. Dependency of social media on community standards and algorithms. Yet when a club or other body is erased from social media it is as if they did not exist.