Naturist Demographics (or, Part Of Why KFFBS Exists)

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We took a bit of flak, in some circles, with our recent post explaining why the Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society has membership restrictions. This was not unexpected.

We can completely understand the position, taken by many folks, that naturism should be completely inclusive, regardless of age or gender. That’s a nice ideal to strive for.

It is, however, not working.

Consider the population pyramid for Canada (shown below). It’s pretty well balanced male-to-female and, while birth rates are falling, the age distribution is also fairly well balanced.

pop pyr CAN 2015

Within what you might call the “naturist community”, the picture is somewhat different. Anecdotally, we’d peg it roughly along the red overlay on the following graphic:

pop pyr CAN 2015 b

In other words, what we actually see at many of the naturist venues we’ve been to is a population that is about 70% male, with a median age around 50 to 55. People our own age (the KFFBS co-organizers are, at the time of writing, in our late 20s) are a relatively rare sight.

There are exceptions. Wreck Beach, undoubtedly Canada’s most successful clothing-optional venue, attracts a crowd that’s evenly split along gender and age lines. Bare Oaks goes to great lengths to ensure that the under-25 crowd can afford to visit and will feel welcome when they do.

On the whole, though, the younger crowd does not identify with “naturism”. They’re fine with skinny-dipping, with topfreedom (in circumstances where it feels safe and everyone’s doing it) and with body-positivity, but naturism is often seen as something for older people, for our parents’ generation.

The Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society is meant for this group. Our events, our ways of doing things, our discussions – it’s all geared for the 18-to-late-30s demographic. We omit the older male crowd from our membership simply because if we didn’t, the demographic structure would actively repel people our age. We have lots of older friends, and we go to plenty of places that are either all-ages or 18-plus, where we get along just fine with naturists of any age.

Within our own group, we have a balanced culture that’s comfortable and welcoming for younger adults, and particularly for women.

pop pyr CAN 2015 c

We’re far from the only group to make this call. OCETPFAS welcomes all interested women, but allows men to join by personal invitation only, for the simple reason that having too many men around tends to make women uncomfortable. We could probably rhyme off a half-dozen naturist sites that welcome women and couples, but not single men, for the same reason.

If you’re a woman or a couple and you’re a bit out of our age range, but identify as “young at heart”, you’re still welcome to join us. And finally, if you’re a single older guy and feel excluded by all this, then by all means go say hi to the folks at TNT!MEN in Toronto, where single men of any age are always welcome.

Our core membership is (and will continue to be for the foreseeable future) mostly in our 20s and early 30s, the gender split being 1/2 to 2/3 female, and this is one of many factors we keep in mind when deciding whether to accept or reject membership requests. Men in our age group are of course welcome to join – with the understanding that clean, respectful behaviour is expected, and any creeps who try to sneak in will be quickly and unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

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Why We Have Membership Restrictions

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We get a lot of questions along the lines of

hi im 52 m like getting naked want to meet like-minded people can i join ur group

No, unfortunately, you can’t. Our decision to limit who can join the group was not an easy one, and we feel we owe you an explanation of why.

There are already a lot of options around here for older folks to enjoy the clothing-free life. We have at least four naturist parks (FFNR, Lakesun, The Grand Barn and Sunward) within a short drive of Kingston, and there are several active non-landed groups in the nearby Ottawa area, all of which attract a middle-aged demographic. There are also several clubs in Toronto for single men. Of the naturist sites around here, FFNR in particular is a great place that is quite welcoming to everybody, and we do a few trips up there each summer.

But, except for us, there’s nothing specifically for the younger generation.

The reason the Free Body Society exists is because Kingston needs a safe, fun and comfortable clothing-optional space for our large student and young professional population, and in particular, the female & trans* members of that population. 25% to 50% of these folks are open to some form of body-positivity; less than 0.5% are comfortable going to existing naturist parks. We want to bridge that gap.

Our priority, in determining who we welcome into the group, is to keep the kind of culture that will be supportive and welcoming to this demographic. (We are, proudly, a no-creeps zone!). Yes, we often go to parks and events that appeal to a broader age group, but our core focus is on the student and young professional crowd.

Remember, also, that we try to provide a forum for intelligent and open discussion of the complex social and cultural issues facing the GenY / Millennial generation. If your only reason for wanting to join us is “because naked”, well, that’s simply not enough to go on.

And so we vet our membership rather carefully.

To actually find us in the real world, you have to read our Join Us page, then email us. You have to tell us a bit about yourself and why the group appeals to you.

Your introduction has to be honest. If your profile is that of a 25-year-old woman but you show up as a 50-year-old man, you’ll be sent home, blocked and reported. Similarly, if you claim to be a couple but only the man shows up, you won’t be staying – or coming back. We don’t require personal details or full names, but please provide enough of a profile for us to see that you are:

  1. A real live individual human (not a spambot or someone who writes like one).
  2. Genuinely interested in what we’re trying to create.
  3. Part of the demographic we focus on:
    • Women are always welcome (and if you’re worried about being too old, don’t worry, you aren’t!)
    • Couples and young families are welcome.
    • Those who identify with a non-traditional gender identity are welcome.
    • Single men are welcome if you are in our age range, and if you convince us you’re the kind of person who would be a net positive to the group. (This isn’t that difficult – just write us a nice, well-thought-out email introducing yourself.) We do not accept single men past late-30s unless one of us personally asks you to join.

Some of you are about to comment that these rules are “draconian” or “against the inclusive spirit of naturism”. Believe us, it wasn’t an easy decision. But we’ve seen what happens without these rules, and they must be like this if we’re to create a welcoming, fun and comfortable space for our own demographic. We would rather the group be something that grows slowly and incrementally into exactly what we need, rather than quickly taking off but losing its purpose along the way.