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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About Naturism

Personal Concerns About Naturism

Children and Naturism

 For more information, visit Children & Naturism.

Naturist Destinations

Experiencing Naturism

For tips, visit Taking The Plunge: Preparing For Your First Naturist Experience

Why Be nude?

Naturists might answer, “Why not be nude?” The mere question implies that going without clothes is a choice that needs to be justified, when in fact, the human body is naturally nude, so it is actually wearing clothes that might be questioned.

The use of clothing to prevent others from seeing your body is rooted in societal conformance, not personal need. Naturists believe that the nude human form is natural and normal, not shameful or so private that it must always remain hidden from others. 

Being nude brings feelings of joy and a sense of freedom. It is a literal shedding of societal rules and inhibitions, which many find relieves stress. Interacting with others in such an open way often increases self-confidence and body acceptance. The lack of clothing also eliminates signals of social status, encouraging people to interact as equals.

To read more about why so many people appreciate the naturist lifestyle, visit our Benefits of Naturism page.

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Isn’t nudity offensive?

Naturists are obviously not offended by nudity, but what about others? Some react to nudity with confusion or embarrassment, simply because it is an unfamiliar situation. Others will find nudity to actually be offensive because it violates their strongly held belief of how people should act, but this is based in their personal opinions. In a free society, people should be free to do what they want except under certain conditions, such as causing others harm. It is difficult to understand how looking at a human body could harm anyone.

In most cases, however, naturism is practised at a club or beach where nudity is specifically permitted and generally expected, so your naked body will offend no one. When it is practised in locations in which nudity is not common or expected, such as when swimming at a secluded lake or hiking a remote trail, there is a chance that others will be bothered, but this is not the intent. Naturism is based in personal enjoyment, not in conflict with people who hold different viewpoints. 

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Isn’t nudity sexual?

Nudity does not equal sex. In North American culture, we mostly see nudity (particularly of the opposite sex) only in sexual situations such as love scenes in movies or pornography. It is only natural that this would develop into a strong mental association for many people, but it is simply not true that all situations involving nudity are sexual. Those who visit a naturist club or beach for the first time may imagine a sexually charged atmosphere, only to be pleasantly surprised by the non-sexual environment.

It is the context and the intent that makes a situation sexual, not the amount of skin visible. Suggestive clothing - subtly hiding and emphasizing certain parts of the body - will often be more arousing than being completely nude. (Consider just how much time, money and effort people put into choosing exactly the right clothing to enhance their sexual attractiveness. Naturists spend far less time deciding what to wear!)

That nudity implies sex is the biggest misconception that naturists have to fight. Naturists are not against sex, but they believe, like most society, that there are appropriate times and places for it.

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Isn't nudity illegal?

In Canada, the circumstances of the situation determine whether you are legally entitled to be nude. When you get naked at a private naturist club, or at one of the two legally designated clothing optional beaches (Wreck Beach in Vancouver, and Hanlan's Point in Toronto), legality is not an issue. A number of other beaches, while not officially designated as such, are known to be used as clothing optional without being challenged by the authorities.

Other activities - such as taking a nude hike in a provincial park - are more likely to run afoul of the law. Public nudity is illegal under Section 174 of the Criminal Code, although the courts have found that “this offence is not aimed at conduct such as swimming nude at an isolated beach, even where the accused misjudges the loneliness of the beach” (Regina v. Benolkin, 1977, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench). Canadian courts have also determined that “mere nude sunbathing is not of sufficient moral turpitude to support a charge for doing an indecent act” (R. v. Beaupré, 1971, British Columbia Supreme Court). However, it is important to note that people who go nude will not necessarily be charged under Section 174.  They may simply be charged with the more vague offence of "mischief" or "trespassing". 

In 1996, a legal decision in Ontario set a precedent allowing a woman to be topfree publicly. The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a woman's conviction of "indecency" because 

“there was nothing degrading or dehumanizing in what the appellant did. The scope of her activity was limited and was entirely non-commercial. No one who was offended was forced to continue looking at her. [The court] cannot conclude that what the appellant did exceeded the community standard of tolerance when all of the relevant circumstances are taken into account.”

To read more about this legal decision, click here.

The Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) does not see mere nudity as "criminal behaviour", and maintains a legal fund to fight (where appropriate) for the legal rights of naturists in Canada.

More information is available on our Naturism And The Law page.

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AREN’T ALL NATURISTS/NUDISTS EXHIBITIONISTS?

Exhibitionists expose themselves primarily to shock others. Exhibitionists would typically find no thrill in naturist environments because the widespread acceptance of nudity means they will not shock anyone. Exhibitionism is not an accepted part of naturism. It is improbable to occur at a naturist club or event because management can deal with the offender.

Naturists enjoy being nude, but the motivation for it is not to shock others. Naturism is about social interaction, not spectacle.

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Doesn’t nudity violate religious beliefs?

Many naturists are religious people and find no contradiction between their beliefs and nudity. While it may seem that social nudity would contradict widely held stereotypes regarding religious practice, this perception is seldom actually based on specific religious dictates.

Directives against nudity are not necessarily part of a religion's basic doctrine. Instead, negative opinions expressed by some religious leaders may be a reflection of their personal beliefs that nudity must be associated with immoral sexual activity. Those who are familiar with naturist communities know that such concerns are not reflected by actual naturist values or behaviour.

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A NUDIST AND A NATURIST?

Depending on whom you ask, there could be no difference. In North America, some people use these words interchangeably. In Europe, the term 'naturist' is more commonly used.

Although both words are associated with nudity, the term 'nudism' for some people may be more related to recreational activities, while 'naturism' has a more substantial philosophical aspect to it.

For the Federation of Canadian Naturists, we define naturism as

"a way of life in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of social nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment."

There may also be some who practice social nudity who reject labels and do not use either word to describe themselves. Others, however, wear the title of naturist with pride.

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What kind of people are naturists?

Naturists are a diverse group, coming from all walks of life. You will find members in the naturist community representing all occupations, ages, races, religions, political leanings and sexual orientations.

In regard to appearance, some might imagine that naturists must all be physically fit and good-looking. But the reality is very different. In a naturist environment, you will encounter all body types, just as you do within the broader society.

Naturists often do not share their enthusiasm for naturism with all their acquaintances, neighbours, co-workers, friends or even family. As a result, you may actually already know a naturist, and they just haven't revealed this interest to you yet!

For many, the most accurate way to describe naturists would be "my closest friends".

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WHAT IF I GET AN ERECTION?

This is the most common concern among men. However, it turns out that this is not as much of a problem as you might imagine. The combination of the non-sexual environment and the unfamiliarity of a first-time visit serves to minimize the issue.

An occasional erection is a natural part of life, and naturists realize this. If an erection does occur, a strategically placed towel, a dip in a cool pool, or rolling over on your stomach will take care of it.

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WHAT DO I DO IF I AM MENSTRUATING?

Generally, women do the same thing in the naturist world as they do in the clothed world. Many use a tampon with the string tucked in, or use a menstrual cup. If they prefer, they wear shorts or bikini bottoms. Menstruation is a normal part of being a woman and one which naturists understand.

For more information on naturism as it relates to women, visit our Women & Naturism page.

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Will I be judged by others if I think my body is less than perfect?

The concept of the perfect body is a myth. The stress caused by the unrealistic expectations of society is unhealthy. Naturists practise body acceptance. When you visit a naturist environment, you will find all types of bodies. You will see all shapes, sizes, ages, and colours - most of them with the signs of life's journey.

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ISN’T IT DANGEROUS TO EXPOSE MYSELF TO SO MUCH SUN?

The removal of a bathing suit does little to increase your exposure to the sun. Whether you are a naturist or not, you should be careful of excess exposure to the sun when you enjoy the outdoors. Moderation and the use of sunscreen is encouraged.

However, note that some evidence suggests that moderate sun exposure is good for you. For more details, click here.

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Won't nudity take away sexual intimacy with my partner?

Sexuality is in the mind. It is a superficial form of sexuality that causes a person to be aroused merely by seeing a body part which one does not normally see. A meaningful bond with a person does not depend on whether they are nude or not.

We believe that naturists may have healthier sexuality, since they are more comfortable with themselves and their bodies. Naturists can enjoy improved sexual intimacy with their partner as a result of not feeling self-conscious about their nudity.

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IS NATURISM SAFE FOR CHILDREN?

People who are not familiar with naturism are sometimes concerned that children will be at risk in naturist environments. However, these concerns are based more on ignorance than any objective reality. The existence of nudity does not automatically create an environment where children are at greater risk. For one thing, naturist clubs and events often require registration by attendees, which helps keep away people with bad intentions that would prefer to remain anonymous. Secondly, naturist communities tend to keep their eyes open and speak up if they see anyone acting inappropriately around children.

The well-being of children is largely based in good parenting, and it would be nonsense to argue that naturist parents are any less concerned with their children's safety and well-being than non-naturist parents. The steps they take are no different - ensuring that young children are under the supervision (by themselves or a trusted guardian), and older children are taught the importance of removing themselves from uncomfortable situations and reporting any inappropriate behaviour. The naturist lifestyle can actually be helpful in this regard because children tend to grow up more confident and with less body shame, which may make them less embarrassed to speak up when warranted.

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Is naturism Beneficial for children?

Anyone who has observed children knows that they are enthusiastic naturists. Young children are not naturally self-conscious when nude. You may see them squeal with delight when they are allowed to run around nude. It is only in their later years that they are pressured into being self-conscious and adopt society's phobias about the body.

Naturists believe that it is healthier for children to grow up accepting their bodies, and we reject the idea of teaching them to be ashamed and embarrassed by certain parts of their bodies.

Children who grow up exposed to the natural variety of the human form tend to grow up confident and comfortable with their bodies, and with seeing others. They are less likely to become concerned about their body's individual characteristics because they see first hand that everyone is unique and special in their own way.

For more information, see: “Children and Naturism

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DO CHILDREN GET CONFUSED AS TO WHEN AND WHERE THEY CAN BE NUDE?

Everyone has to teach children when and where it is acceptable to be nude. Naturists simply have more places where it is acceptable. With exposure to naturist environments, children internalize that nudity is not inherently wrong, but also that it is not always appropriate. Concerns that this is difficult for children to manage are largely unfounded, as children naturally adapt to new situations quickly and easily learn expected behaviours.

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Where Can I Go To Try Naturism?

When you decide to give naturism a try, you have a number of options.

  • Being nude in your home - preparing dinner, sleeping, or just relaxing around the house - can be a great first step to becoming comfortable with naturism
  • Clothing Optional (CO) beaches are public areas where it is permissible to be naked in the presence of others. "Official" CO beaches have been legally designated as such, while "Unofficial beaches" have not been legally designated but have a history of nude use.
  • Clubs are private grounds which are owned either by individuals or by the members. Since they are private businesses, they have a greater ability to enforce their rules of behaviour. As a result, you may find you are less likely to encounter individuals exhibiting inappropriate behaviour (such as gawking or making rude comments) at clubs than you are at public beaches. Click here for a list of clubs in Canada that are members of the FCN. 
  • Non-landed clubs are groups that organize naturist activities at facilities that are not owned by the club, such as by renting a public pool or bowling alley for private events

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DO I HAVE TO JOIN TO VISIT?

Clothing optional beaches are public and thus do not require membership. Clubs are privately run, and their rules vary. Some clubs never insist you become a member to visit, while others only allow a certain number of visits for non-members. Nearly all clubs allow at least one visit for non-members. When planning a trip to a club, it is a good idea to contact the club in advance to determine their policies.

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ARE SINGLE PEOPLE WELCOME?

All clothing optional beaches and most clubs welcome singles. However, many clubs try to maintain a balance between the sexes. Check ahead for a club’s policy.

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WILL I HAVE TO BE NAKED ALL THE TIME?

No. Naturists prefer to be nude but dress when appropriate. Clothes keep us warm in cold weather and protect us when doing dangerous work. We just don’t believe that it is necessary to always use clothes to hide our bodies.

In private clubs, the rules vary on when dressing is appropriate. In some clubs, people are nude all the time. In others, you may find that people dress for dinner.

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Do I have to belong to a naturist club to be a naturist?

Once (years ago), it was extremely helpful to belong to a club if you wished to practice naturism, as it was more of a private, hidden activity. But naturism has since "come out of the shadows", and you now have more options.

If you are lucky enough to live near a public clothing optional beach, you are - of course - able to visit the beach without joining any club.

Naturist clubs are private and can set their own rules, but most welcome non-member visitors. (In fact, clubs typically make a significant portion of their revenue from day visits by non-members.) Contact the club before visiting to find out specific policies.

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Will I have to undress right away?

No. Naturists understand that you cannot shed years of socialization as soon as you arrive. Most clubs allow visitors to remain dressed at first. You may feel pressure to undress. That feeling is probably self-induced by the fact that you are the only fully dressed person within sight. Funny, isn’t it, to be uncomfortable because you are dressed?

In most clubs, it is not appropriate to swim with a bathing suit. On naturist beaches, there is no expectation that you need to undress, since they are clothing optional. If you are clothed and appear to be gawking you may be approached by others. Taking off your clothes may help allay suspicion.

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How do I act when talking to others?

People visiting a naturist club or clothing optional beach for the first time may feel somewhat self-conscious or unsure about how to act when talking with people. However, the etiquette is really very much the same as what you are used to in the non-naturist world. Yes, it is inappropriate to stare at a person's genitals or breasts, but then, that is the same if they are clothed. So, basically, try to act as you normally would.

It is natural to have some curiosity, and it is OK to look. But glance, don't stare. As you become more accustomed to being in naturist environments, it will become natural and you will find your eyes are not as prone to wander.

When chatting with other naturists, it is normally considered inappropriate to make comments about people's bodies. Even if you mean it as a compliment, such comments are easily misinterpreted, and so are best avoided. 

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What if I meet someone I know?

They are there too, just as nude as you are. They are probably very comfortable with naturism, since they have probably been there before. They will probably be happy to see you. Just think, you have discovered a mutual interest!

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I could never be a naturist, could I?

If you have never been naked in a non-sexual social situation, it may seem pretty strange at first. It is, undeniably, not a "mainstream" lifestyle within Canadian culture. However, this does NOT imply that it is any less of a fun, satisfying and healthy way of life.  Stepping outside your "comfort zone" can seem intimidating, but taking that step can be empowering and result in truly memorable life experiences. For many naturists, the biggest regret is that they never got into the lifestyle earlier. Don't make that same mistake! Try it for yourself, and discover the freedom.

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