Introducing Our Body-Positive Nude Beach Photography Project
If you believed what the media and pop culture says about nude beaches in the U.S., you might think that:
– Nude beaches are only visited by very ugly, middle-aged people and / or senior citizens.
– People only go to a nude beach in order to look at all the naked people or only exhibitionists go to a nude beach.
– Nude beaches are full of debauchery, drugs and sex / orgies
– Children are not allowed at nude beaches (or even if they were, families should and would never visit them).
– Legal nude beaches only exist in Europe
Of all these misconceptions, the first is perhaps the most prevalent. It’s often phrased as a joke along the lines of, “The only people who go to the nude beach are the ones you don’t want to see naked (ha ha ha).”
It’s spouted by celebrities on late night talk shows. It comes up in the media, radio shows, television shows. It’s even in some online reviews of nude beaches.
It is a myth that only old people visit nude beaches. That said, the statement is not so much about the actual or true attractiveness of the beach goers. After all, when it comes down to it, we all find different features and different bodies attractive. Beauty is all relative.
The problem is the inherent shaming that is enforcing society’s warped beauty standards / ideals. People consider the nude beach goers “gross” because when compared to society’s beauty ideal, they don’t measure up and in reality, very few people do. Sadly, our culture says it’s normal or even warranted for people to express disgust at any person’s body that doesn’t fit this ideal (or even ones that DO fit the ideal because really, nobody is perfect and you can’t win).
It’s considered normal, accepted and even commonplace to shame people for daring to reveal their average, flawed bodies in public. But it is important to note that in many instances, the person “joking” about all the ugly naked people also feels some level of shame and insecurity towards their own body. By putting others down, they may “feel better about themselves.” But when they say that line, it is reinforcing unrealistic beauty standards for everyone (including themselves).
It also ties into the second myth – that everyone who visits the nude beach is either a voyeur who’s there to gawk at others’ bodies, or an exhibitionist who goes to get sexually aroused by others looking at their naked body.
In reality, a nude beach is not much different than any other beach. People swim, socialize, relax in the sun, play volleyball.
We decided that one way to address all these myths and misconceptions about the nude beach would be to introduce the people that actually visit one – specifically Gunnison Nude Beach in NJ.
At Gunnison we photographed over a dozen individuals of different backgrounds, ages, body types, sexual orientations and genders. Then we had our participants answer questions about themselves through an online survey.
Through this project I hope to take away some of the mystery out of the people who actually spend time at a nude beach. I will show what actual “beach bodies” look like with no airbrushing, no swimsuits and no shame. I’ll tackle many of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the nude beach. And by the time I’m done, I hope there will be a little bit less judgment, a little more acceptance and a lot less body shame in the world.
So now that I’ve introduced the project, time to meet the participants! And check back or subscribe to my newsletter as I will keep publishing more interviews.
This body-positive photography project was published by Felicity’s Blog.