It's Nude Recreation Week in July!

Sun's out, buns out!

What is it about nudity that makes some of us squirm in embarrassment? Everyone has a body, and they all pretty much look the same under all our clothes. We're different sizes and shapes, but for the most part, we all have the same, well, parts. But many of us hate the idea of being naked in front of other people and will avoid it at all costs.

Nudity is a dirty little secret we all know, but refuse to discuss in polite society. Just like going to the bathroom. Everyone does it, but no one will acknowledge that the other person has just done it. And the people who admit to it are shunned and shamed for daring to mention that they just, well, uh — see how bad it is? I can't even write about it, but you know what I'm talking about.

That's how it is with nudity. Some people love to flaunt and others try to hide it. Many people work out and stay in shape, and they're proud to show off the results of their efforts. Others, especially those of us who are not in shape, don't want to show anything off. And still others clutch their pearls and fling themselves onto the nearest fainting couch if they ever see anyone showing bare shoulders and thighs. (Remember how upset some people got when Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless dress?)

Regardless of how you feel, being naked is not unnatural and it's not something to be ashamed of. You may not feel comfortable being naked in front of other people, but hopefully you're able to take a shower or change clothes without shutting off the lights and closing your eyes.

I recently received a press release from the American Association for Nude Recreation, and now I can't stop saying "Ass-ociation." They encourage all Americans to "chill out and cool down" this summer.

They want us to strip off all our clothes and go on a "nakation" — a naked vacation — during Nude Recreation Week, from July 8 – 13. They're also asking everyone to participate in the second annual "International Skinny Dip Day" on July 13.

Nude Recreation Week is when many AANR affiliated clubs, resorts, and campgrounds are opening their raincoats and their homes for "free spirits to experience the stress-relieving freedom of nude recreation with like-minded souls."

The week's festivities includes bare bun fun runs, BBQs, dances, and sports competitions. Interestingly, the contestants of the original Olympics in Ancient Greece all competed naked, so the sports competitions will be an interesting throwback to nearly 2,800 years ago.

I don't like certain words like "staycation," which is when you take a vacation in your own house or hometown. I'm not against the concept because I like my house. I just dislike the word itself because it sounds dumb.

But I can get on board with "nakation," because I love the word "naked." It's a fun-sounding word, and it's fun to say. When my kids were all little, they would run around the house before bath time without any clothes on, and we would chase after them, yelling "Naked baby! Naked baby!" and they would cackle at the silliness of the word.

The AANR says if you don't want to visit one of their 180 clothing-optional and clothing-free clubs, you could enjoy being naked at home. Some of the activities they suggest include: Jump in your backyard pool naked. Wash your family pet naked. Clean the house naked. Read a book naked, like maybe Nick Hornby's "Juliet Naked" or William S. Burroughs' "Naked Lunch." But do not make bacon naked; wear an apron.

(See how fun the word is?)

So I like the idea of a "nakation," even if I can't do it while everyone is at home. Plus, I'm just not that comfortable with the idea of being naked. Even when the rest of the family is gone, the best I can manage is taking my shirt off and trying to not feel self-conscious around the dog.

I understand a lot of people feel uncomfortable with being naked. Or they won't do it as long as no one else is around, the doors are locked, the blinds are closed, and there's a black curtain hanging over the bathroom mirror while they get in and out of the shower.

But the AANR doesn't want us to be ashamed. The whole point of the nakation is to "give first-timers a chance to shed stress by giving clothes-free recreation a try."

So if you're looking for something new to do this summer, and want to get a little wild and free, consider a nakation. The only thing you have to lose is your sense of shame. And modesty. And personal dignity. And your favorite shirt.

Photo credit: Tom Oates (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

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