Warning: Some of the links in this article may contain photographs of nudity.
I have some friends, pillars of their community, devout Catholics in their fifties, who have raised their kids, who live in a huge brick transitional home in a wealthy suburb of a major U.S. city, who hold responsible jobs and who are respected in their community and in their parish.
Every year, at the same time,this couple goes to Negril, checks into Grand Lido, one of the most elegant resorts in the Caribbean, and... GETS NEKKID.
Grand Lido isn't the only upscale resort that offers a "clothing optional" section, nor that caters to an otherwise sedate and unlikely naked crowd. These resorts are everywhere, even in (gasp) TEXAS.
From Hungary to New Zealand, clothing-optional and "naturist" resorts are ubiquitous. You may not see them advertised in the same way that you see ads for Hiltons or Marriotts, but the resorts exist, and they thrive.
When my daughter and I visited Hedonism II for dinner a couple of years ago, we were nearly the only ones remaining clothed by the time we left. There were at least as many guests over 40 as there were under 26. At Grand Lido we were surprised at the people who chose the accommodation at the clothing-optional beach. They were real-estate moguls, bankers, foreign dignitaries. They were couples not unlike my friends who go every year.
t resorts all over the Caribbean, European women go topless, titilating the unsuspecting American eight and nine year old boys (and girls) who vacation with their families from Iowa and Wisconsin. Some beaches, especially those in Latin countries, exhort the guests to remain clothed, to no avail.
In France, Cap d'Agde is an entire community of nudists. They shop nude, go to the movies nude, walk down the streets nude. Their kids are nude, teenagers are nude; to them, it's a way of life. Forty thousand nude people in one place, with travel agents cashing in on the craze.
Craze? Carnival Cruise Lines has dedicated the Jubilee
to a nude cruise in February of 2001, and it's the 10th annual cruise of this type. Aside from giving new meaning to the term "Fun Ships," what happens if the ship doesn't sell out with nudists? What happens when Grandma and Grandpa show up for their mid-winter cruise to find naked people all over the place, lounging by the pool or in line at the pizza counter?
In any event, nude vacations, or "naturism vacations," are popular.
"It's so FREEING," claims my friend.
"After being in the business world, maintaining a home and a specific lifestyle, shedding our clothing is like shedding our adult responsibilities. It was difficult at first, but after the discomfort wore off, it was the most marvelous feeling of freedom I have ever experienced."
"And I would never even consider walking around nude in my own home," she concludes. "Go figure."