Sharing Your Naturism

Recognizing the difficulty in sharing the nudist experience with non-nudists, AANR and TNS (The Naturist Society) have assembled a team of human behavior experts who pooled their knowledge into a comprehensive reference on how to successfully share nudist experiences with others entitled "Sharing Your Naturism."

The resulting articles appear in the print versions of AANR's The Bulletin and TNS' N Magazine and will be published below each month.

Do you have a comment or question about Sharing Your Naturism? Share your comments here

How Long Should You Wait To Tell The World You're A Nudist? (Part 6)

Sixth in a Series

Part VI

A particular challenge for many people is sharing their nudism with their boss. Part VI addresses some considerations as well as strategies that will promote successful disclosure to an employer.

Telling your employer

There are two principles to keep in mind before deciding to tell your employer. First, discretely check company policy on outside activities such as social activism in the unlikely event that your activity might be considered against company protocol. Second, voluntary disclosure to your boss should always occur off company property in a social situation so the boss can consider it "unofficial" and feel less obligated to report it if he or she feels it violates company policy.

Many nudists stay secretive because they think this is the safest protection from an employer finding out and reacting negatively. Perhaps that was true prior to the Internet and social media, but today much private information is readily available online.  Thus, if you can acknowledge your naturism by your own choice and on your own terms, you can control the message, the time, the place, the atmosphere and the readiness of the recipient. However, if you allow someone else to disclose your nudism, it may be done in a very negative fashion, requiring the difficult action of damage control. 

If you know your employer socially, you already have a good start. If not, consider developing a social friendship through a company sports league, religious or volunteer organization, PTA or other group that your boss participates in. Then find a private time (outside the office) when you can converse without interruptions. Unless you are certain the boss will be personally accepting of the disclosure, use the techniques described for difficult situations.

Recognize that your employer may need to defend you if someone “outs” you to him or her, so provide key messages that refute common objections. Your goal is promoting the employer's comfort and support so if someone reveals your nudism, your employer will naturally respond, “Oh, I’ve known that for ages---I’m surprised a savvy person like you didn’t know it as well. What’s your point, anyway?”  The informer, who has probably reacted negatively to the discovery and assumes the boss will too, is now on the defensive, and by not anticipating an unconcerned or indifferent reaction from the boss, is unprepared to respond. If the individual's opinion differs from that of the boss, it may cause fear of disapproval---something most people avoid...and lead to the informer's development of more favorable attitudes.

Keep in mind that disgruntled employees have used discussion of nudist activities as a basis for sexual harassment charges, so those activities should never be discussed on company property, especially if you have any supervisory control over others.

Other strategies

Obviously, you can use any of the techniques described throughout the series in a variety of situations where they seem appropriate. Cognitive dissonance and social norming are two additional techniques to convince doubtful people of the validity of your nudist activities.

Cognitive dissonance describes the psychological discomfort (or dissonance) that results when an individual's knowledge or beliefs differ from what the individual actually does. Discomfort occurs when people want to be truthful about their nudism because of their positive experiences and knowledge but they either publicly deny it because they fear rejection, or they remain silent when hearing disparaging comments about naturism. Reducing discomfort requires speaking up about their nudism, rationalizing their silence, ignoring the message or discrediting the messenger.  While the most positive resolution is speaking up, many people find reasons that are not always valid to justify their silence or they simply pretend the misinformation doesn't bother them. 

Cognitive dissonance also occurs when credible new information challenges an individual's existing beliefs or attitudes.  For example, when people admit to friends or family that they are nudists and then get a negative response, they can deliberately create discomfort by asking whether learning this fact changes the listeners' feelings or opinion about them.  The listener must then weigh the conflict between caring for and thinking positively of the individual against the negative beliefs about the new information. The resolution requires accepting the person along with the new knowledge or rejecting the person, a less desirable response.  Often, one hears the following compromise resolution: "I am totally OK with anything that makes you happy, but it isn't something I am interested in."

Social norming recognizes that people belong to, identify with and want to feel part of a group. They generally uphold the group's social norms (that is, their beliefs, behaviors and attitudes) and are hesitant to do things or hold opinions that alienate them from their peers. Thus, if individuals are uncomfortable with your nudism but discover that their peers, people they respect, or the group you are telling are OK with it, they are less likely to set themselves apart by opposing it.

Individuals may also be influenced by credible evidence that social nudity is more widely accepted than they realize, particularly when their peers have accepted this as well. TNS and AANR both have data by respected pollsters that demonstrate society’s broad acceptance. AANR occasionally plants tidbits in popular publications like “more people would like to visit a nude beach than learn to play golf on their next vacation.”  Memorizing similar brief catchy 'sound bites' and being ready to quote them when appropriate will strengthen your position that "nude is normal".

Whether acknowledging you are a nudist or responding to a comment, act as if most people already support you and your naturism is simply a new and interesting personal dimension that you have chosen to share with others.

Part VII is the last article of this series.  It includes two final strategies and addresses ways to reflect on, evaluate and even enhance the approaches you have used to tell the world you are a nudist.  Sample statements are included to reinforce positive reactions you may have gotten.

Editor’s Note: This article and other articles in this series are based on the work of the Joint AANR/TNS Ad Hoc Committee on Sharing Your Naturism.