Nudism is the belief that there is nothing inherently wrong with wearing no clothing, even if other people are around and are naked too.
Nudism is practiced in both private and public settings. Social nudism is another name for a group of nudists gathered together. Individual nudism could be stated as one person who enjoys going without clothing (at home, in a forest, or wherever), but who isn't around other nudists at the time. Nudists do everything non-nudists do, except nudists might choose to do their activities while not wearing clothing.
Nudism is not a sexually-oriented or sexually-originated belief.
Nudism is about positive body acceptance, and is for all shapes and sizes. In our natural states, we see that every body is different and that different is normal. Nudism helps to dispel the belief that society's idealized male and female body types are the only types worth having.
People have different reasons for being involved in nudism. Common themes for people participating include enjoying the feeling of the sun and wind over one's whole body, feeling like one is more a part of nature, having less hassle in the area of dress, and simply believing that nudity is no big deal and so not being concerned about the presence of nudity.
Nudism is not orgies, sex parties, peep shows, or revelry. It is not about sexual stimulation. It is not an "adult-oriented" or "adult-only" activity. It is not something that is reserved for only those who have "perfect" bodies (nudism has nothing to do with flaunting one's endowments).
There most certainly is. While many nudists do host gatherings at their houses, there are nudist resorts, beaches, and communities throughout the US and much of the world. Last I heard, the entire state of Oregon was legally a "nude-acceptable" zone, as their laws do not prohibit simple public nudity (I would verify that before attempting it, though). In America, the AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) is considered the head authority to go to if you want information/locations on places that are known to be official nudist sites (there website can be found here- http://www.aanr.com/). As for other countries, a quick websearch might be able to reveal where one can go if they want to be nude.
Some of the most popular American sites happen to be beaches. In Florida, there is the beach known as Haulover. It is actually a section of the larger Haulover beachfront which is located near Miami. It is entirely clothing-optional, it is state sanctioned, and it has regular lifeguards. It's Wiki page can be found here- (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haulover_Park). In New Jersey, there is a nude beach called Gunnison beach. It used to be part of a military establishment (that has since been decommissioned), and is owned by the federal government. New Jersey did pass a law that nudity was not allowed on state property, but since state law does not have jurisdiction on federal land, the use of the beach as a nude beach still stands (and is legal). It's Wiki page can be found here- (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunnison_Beach). Another beach worthy of mention, though perhaps no longer a legal nude beach, is Black's Beach near San Diego, California. It was tolerated as a clothing-optional beach until recently, when a California Appellate Court ruled that State Park officials could give citations for nudity if they so chose. Other clothing-optional beaches in the State Park system have already had people receive citations, and so whether Black's Beach will continue to keep its clothing-optional notoriety is up in the air. It's Wiki page can be found here- (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black%27s_Beach). Other legal nude beaches can probably be found by searching the AANR website.
As for resorts and/or communities, there are probably some located within every state of the US. But due to the fact that ownership can change hands and policies can shift, popularity and respectability will shift as well. Check the AANR website for up-to-date information about the resorts and communities. The most famous resort in the world for nudism is called the Village Naturiste; it is located in France, in the town of Agde, and is part of the larger resort known as Cap d'Agde. Village Naturiste is an entire clothing-optional town, where many people live nude- including shopping for groceries, going to the bank, getting their hair done, or hitting the restaurants. Wikipedia says that there has been an increase in past years of sex businesses and the like moving into the area, but doesn't give a definite word on what the town is currently like. I mention the place simply because it is incredibly well-known; it's Wiki site can be found here- (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cap_d%27Agde).
While this may come as a shock to some, nudism is indeed family-friendly. Many nudist resorts have families that go to them, and there are indeed whole families who raise their children with the mindset that clothes are optional. This may seem icky to people who don't understand it, but this is only because they assume the parents are letting their kids run naked for some sort of sexual reason. On the contrary, what are clothes? Are they not just pieces of plants and other material that we decide to put on ourselves? Do they really change the type of people we are? And so, with the fact in mind that clothes don't actually make a person, families don't have an issue with choosing to raise their kids in the buff. And as for young kids, they are known for taking off their clothes and running around anyway, so it isn't necessarily a challenge teaching them that nude is okay. Nudist families are like every other everyday family- the parents probably work, the kids go to school, everyone has their own hobbies; nudists simply choose to not care about clothes.
As for families and nudist resorts, AANR prides itself in its standard of trying to make sure that the places who associate with it are family-friendly. Again, nudism isn't about sexuality, and standard policy at most places is that if someone is doing sexually deviant behavior, they get kicked out. As well, other parents may take precautionary measures to protect other people's kids, because they know how they would feel if someone was messing with their child. Obviously, parental supervision and precautions always need to be taken if one is taking their kids to a place with strangers, and this holds true for nudist settings as well. Families should be careful though, when taking their children to places like public nude beaches where there are no lifeguards or other authority figures, as non-nudists are much more likely to come to these places, and may be there for the wrong reasons.
There are two camps when it comes to this question- Some people use the term "naturist" the same way they do "nudist," as they don't see a difference. Other people, who hold to the older cultural connections of naturism, would say that naturism has a focus on exercise, healthy eating, and overall well-being that nudism does not. A visit to Freilichtpark, the first modern naturist park opened in 1903, would have included regular morning exercises and vegetarian-only meals, on top of people walking around naked. Words change over time though, and not everyone that went to naturist parks liked living on a vegetarian diet, so the meaning of the word "naturist" became a bit more flexible. Today, the term naturist will generally be interpreted as "Oh, you like to get naked and go skinny dipping or hang out with other naked people." Unless, of course, a person has no idea what a naturist is, and then they might think you really enjoy flowers and forests.
In a normal nudist environment, sexual urges are not any stronger than they are in a clothed environment. This is because when everyone is naked, it just becomes normal. "Seen that, and everyone else's" is kind of the mindset that happens. Seeing genitals becomes no different than seeing people's arms. Though it needs to be said, that just as people find others attractive in a clothed environment (physically attractive- beautiful/handsome/hot/etc), people will find others attractive in a nudist environment. It doesn't mean the hormones get twiced as revved. Our sex drives still exist. But just as we don't helplessly collapse on the floor when we see an attractive person in a clothed situation, so also nudists don't collapse on the floor when they see an attractive person in a nude situation. One simply acknowledges the fact that that person is attractive, and then decides to either not care and go on with life, or to see if that person is single and available (the same thing a person would do in a clothed situation).
A typical fear of people wanting to try a nudist experience is the question "Where I am suppose to be looking?" or "Is it okay to look at the genitals/breasts?" The answer to the first question is- where do you normally keep your focus in regular situations? Is it not the face? If it isn't, then you should make it that for nudist situations, because it is simply normal and good etiquette (even in non-nudist life). And honestly, in normal clothed situations, people often have a general full view of another person's body and they don't even think about it. After a while, the mind takes the same position in nude situations- you simply start to focus on the person you are talking to, instead of the body of that person you are talking to.
As for the answer to the second question- Yes, it is okay to look at the genitals/breasts. We are going to notice them anyway because they are in the open. But this doesn't mean stare, it doesn't mean continually change your focus back and forth to keep a nice view of them, and it doesn't mean you should be making incredibly noticeable "What are their names?" looks at these parts of people's bodies. If you wouldn't look in a certain way at a person's arm, don't look at their breasts or genitals in that way. Though, I will point out, just as sometimes people do get interesting tattoos or etc on their arms, sometimes people get them near or on their genitals as well. The same rule tends to apply- one is allowed to make mention of it or comment on it, but try to use good taste, and try not to make it the first thing that comes out of your mouth. There are still a lot more genital-gawking perverts out there than there are arm-gawking perverts, so people are going to be more leery about others making comments about their genitals.
For guys with at least a bit of nudist experience, erections really are quite rare. Again, the female body loses a lot of its sexual flashiness when it is both commonplace and shown as the rather non-sexual entity that it is. One will find that it's just another person's body, instead of the "look at that hot stuff gettin' revealed" image that culture has placed on it. But, erections do sometimes happen, and doesn't have to have any relation to sexual stimulation. Most guys will be able to agree that they have gotten an erection at a completely random time before, and it isn't any different in a nudist environment. Also, erections do happen naturally as a man sleeps, as it is a process of the body used to make sure the penis stays in good working order. So erections do happen in nudist environments, and typical etiquette (expected behavior/rules) says that a man should use a towel to cover up if he gets one, though this rule varies from place to place; also, people are often very considerate when the occurence happens, often not caring as long as it isn't flaunted or known to be from the man stimulating himself on purpose. Erections aren't something to be embarrassed or ashamed about when happening in a socially nude environment, just know the rules/expected behavior of the place that you are at and try to abide by them. Men who are new to nudism may get a few more erections than a seasoned nudist when they are getting used to being around females near their age; but again, it's just part of life, it happens, just follow the rules, and you'll be fine.
If you (whether you are male or female) notice a man with an erection, simply ignore it. Unless the person is actively and noticeably trying to show it off, or has been seen masturbating, then it is most likely just a harmless ocurrence and isn't a cause for concern or increased attention. If the person does seem like they are purposely trying to flaunt it, or is masturbating, then contact the staff or authorities of the place that you are at so that they deal with him accordingly.
Female nipple erections do occur, but aren't ever really cared about, as they typically aren't associated with sex, and they don't undergo as drastic a change as a man's penis does.
Plenty of women still enjoy nudism during their periods. Typical protocol (behavior) is if you are wearing a tampon, many females cut the string that hangs out simply so that it is not readily noticeable. If you prefer to wear pads, then simply wear a bikini bottom or underwear with it during that time of the month. You don't have to be totally nude to enjoy the benefits of nudism. If you want to know the policies of any certain resort you are going to, then simply ask them what their expectations are.
Typically these people will be thrown out of the resort/establishment/beach that they are at. Most nudist places do not tolerate any form of masturbation or sex on their properties- no different than if someone was typically doing the behavior in public. Assume that if it would be illegal to do it walking around in public, it's probably illegal to do the same action around others at a nudist resort.
If you're interested in trying an experience in social nudism, I would suggest checking the AANR website for a better chance of finding a family-friendly nudist resort or group near you. Once you find one, you can either go to their website, or call them directly, for details about what times and places they are open or get together. You can also then ask about rules and advice concerning first time visitors. After that, make the jump. You could also try going to a nudist beach listed at AANR as well, which typically would have less formality and interaction with people involved, probably would cost less, and would give you an idea of what nudism is like as well (plus you can work on an even tan if you want to).
I also suggest that anyone who is interested in nudism, but not used to being nude at home: if you're able to go nude at home (people aren't going to object), consider trying doing your normal household chores and activities in the nude. This is often a great first step, and can include sleeping nude if a person wants to include it.
Also, for resorts, know that some resorts are nude-only, and some resorts are clothing-optional. There is a difference. Nude-only means you basically always have to be nude while there, while clothing-optional means you can still wear clothes if you want to, or not wear anything at all if you want to.
How do nudists handle the issue of photography when people are in the nude? The answer is, it depends. In general, it's never a good idea to take a picture of someone who is nude without their permission. In some cases, even when nudists are involved, it can be illegal. But this doesn't mean that nudists are all anti-photography, as many want to have lasting records of the enjoyable times they have had at various nudist resorts or activities. Below are a few guidelines about photography when it comes to nudist resorts and nude beaches.
Generally, photography and video recording equipment (including cell phone cameras) are banned from being used in the main sections of nudist resorts, and are sometimes completely banned from being used in nudist resorts. This is done to protect the privacy of the users of the resort. Often times a resort will have a designated camera person to take pictures for special events. The designated camera person usually asks before taking a person's picture, unless he knows he already has approval from the person he is taking a picture of to do so, though a need for approval may depend on the rules of the nudist resort that is visited. One should always check a resort's policy on photography before going there if he/she is concerned about that.
As for public clothing-optional/nude beaches in America, the issue of photography is a different matter. While one should ask before taking somebody else's picture out of respect and considerateness, it is not technically illegal to take pictures of people who happen to be on public land. Note that this is only current law, and is subject to possibly change in the future. But if you want to not be mistaken as a pervert, or you want to avoid receiving verbal or physical aggression, always ask before taking a picture of someone, even if they are merely sitting closeby in the background. If you are getting your picture taken, it is best to try to avoid having unrelated people in the background if possible; or if not, to back up so that other people at the beach are not disquishable in your picture. Also, it might be appropriate to warn people that you are taking a picture of yourself/your group, and that you don't mean any harm by it.
Also, because picture taking at public nude beaches doesn't currently require asking someone's permission before their picture is taken, some people have chosen to use this loophole for their own deviant interests. If you go to a nude beach, and you notice it appears someone is taking unwanted pictures of you, you can deal with the situation by turning to a different angle to give them a bad shot, you can ask them to not take pictures of you, you can report to a nearby lifeguard or authority that that particular person is making you feel uncomfortable, or as more of a last resort, could take a picture of the person in question and give him a look that lets him know that you may be keeping tabs on creepers. If the issue of people taking unwanted pictures of you becomes a consistent problem, and you have tried moving to different parts of the beach, you might start taking pictures of the offenders and talking to the authorities about them. If enough people were to do this and complain about a particular person, it might increase police surveillance of this person, which could lead to the police catching the person in some other illegal activity. Many times if a person is willing to be openly deviant in a regular way, they are probably involved in other illegal activities as well, such as possession and use of illegal substances. Note that the other options should typically be used first, as positive approaches can go a long way. As well, with enough lobbying, the current law would most likely get altered, which means these people would then be able to be arrested for inappropriate picture taking.
Other than these scenarios, if you want to take a picture, or want a picture taken of you, simply ask. Asking can often get you all the information you need.
Websites I have found on photography laws:
http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf - Current rights of photographers
http://www.publaw.com/photo.html - An article concerning what one can legally do with the pictures one has taken.
A word of caution concerning nude beaches. Because not all nude beaches are strictly/strongly supervised by authorities, sometimes unwholesome people will either slip onto a beach and act inappropriately (openly masturbating, purposely staring or trying to take pictures of people, asking people for sex, etc), or they will sit in the bushes and try to stare at people's bodies. Typically these are men. Because of this, official nudist sites suggest making sure to stay near the more populated/busy sections of the nude beaches, or to not go to a nude beach alone. To help oneself, one can also go online and try to find out if the beach has regular wholesome groups that are active at the beach, like volleyball teams or a beach ambassadors group, as hanging out near these groups at the beach will likely lower the risk of having to deal with people who have deviant interests.
If you do come across a person who seems to having a staring issue, the easiest thing to do is to turn your body so that they don't get a view. Often they get the hint and either stop or leave. If you need to, you can also relocate to another spot on the beach. If the person is acting inappropriately in a way that is different than just staring (such as masturbating, or making sexual propositions), it is best to notify a lifeguard if one is present, or possibly contact the proper authorities if one is not.
Even though some precautions should be taken when considering going to a nude beach, plenty of people still frequent nude beaches. Haulover beach in Florida sometimes gets between 7000 to 8500 people on busy weekends (wiki- last couple lines before reference section). It also has lifeguards on duty to help keep things safe. So really, as long as one does their research, there isn't a reason to not try a nude beach, unless a person wasn't interested in trying one in the first place.