Nudism vs exhibitionism


This time I’m going to write about how nudism/naturism compares with exhibitionism. There are a few (but really just one fundamental) similarities and there’s many differences between the two, which are very much debatable, depending on your point of view, if you really think about it. Let’s get to it.

Here are the definitions for both, according to wikipedia, just to see what common knowledge is about these two, or what it is supposed to be. Nudism, or naturism, is a cultural and political movement practicing, advocating and defending personal and social nudity, most but not all of which takes place on private property. The term may also refer to a lifestyle based on personal, family and/or social nudism.

Exhibitionism is the act of exposing in a public or semi-public context those parts of one’s body that are not normally exposed – for example, the breasts, genitals or buttocks. The practice may arise from a desire or compulsion to expose themselves in such a manner to groups of friends or acquaintances, or to strangers for their amusement or sexual satisfaction or to shock the bystander. In law, the act of exhibitionism is called indecent exposure. So now that we have that down, let’s compare the two regarding similarities and differences.

The main, and really the only similarity is that they both involve nudity. The reasons for it, however, are completely different. Nudism/naturism is about feeling comfortable in one’s own bare skin (aka positive body image), enjoying the freedom of being clothes free, feeling one with nature & being the way we were meant to be naturally (the way we are born). Good examples are nude sunbathing, swimming, hiking, relaxing or many activities in a social context, just to name a few. Exhibitionism is about exposing the body’s more private parts, often just those (not completely naked) for a short amount of time usually, for the thrill, for the excitement of said person and/or other people, like streaking and public flashing are good examples of it.

Even though the logic behind these two are clearly different, many times people think they are very similar or even the same. Let me name another difference ; while nudism/naturism is innocent and not meaning to be shocking, offensive, degrading or even harmful, exhibitionism could be described with those words . Finally, the obvious fact is that nudism/naturism is allowed in certain designated places, exhibitionism is not really welcome anywhere (but still practiced). I’m sure there’s many more differences we can come up with these were just a few.

So in conclusion, with some reasonable thinking, anybody can understand the vast difference between the two. Whoever doesn’t see the contrast is simply ignorant. Unfortunately, the two still aren’t separated enough in many people’s mind. Let’s hope that that changes !

15 Replies to “Nudism vs exhibitionism”

  1. What it comes down to is that both nudism and exhibitionism are about the act of being naked, but the reasons behind it are different.
    The reasons for nudism are rather personal: getting closer to nature, getting away from conformism or getting a smooth tan. They want to BE nude.
    The reasons for exhibitionism are rather focused on others: they like to be looked at or to shock. They want to BE SEEN nude.

    Of course, where do you draw the line?
    Sometimes it’s easy. The guy spending his Sundays in the nudist resort will be considered a nudist, the guy with the long coat behind the bushes trying to shock old women and little girls is obviously an exhibitionist.
    But what about someone who likes to be nude and enjoys the looks from others, without parading around?
    Or how about nudists putting nude pictures of themselves online… Actually… how about you? You’re exposing yourself too with you nude art…
    If you’re enjoying some nude time in the garden and your neighbor spots you and is shocked… Does that make you an exhibitionist?

    In your picture you use a streaker as an example for exhibitionism, but you don’t know his reasons. He could be drunk or having a political statement on his back.
    It’s like FEMEN, who protest topless. Are they exhibitionists? They do shock people, but not to attract them to themselves but to a certain cause…

    Lots of stuff to think about 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes much food for thought ! Thanks for your comment. I would say I like the recognition more than the attention. And art is exhibiting your interpretation so you got a point there ! Well put my friend.


  2. Perfect example on both. Altough it would have been nice to have included pornography or swinger’s as both involve explicit nudity and often many cannot not differentiate the difference between nudism /naturism. Just because we are nude and are comfortable in our own skin as such does not make us lewd or offensive.

    Stay Naked


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have one additional comment, only a bit off topic. One does not have to be nude to be an exhibitionist. Men ans women can show off while partially clothed in a way that has the same effect as traditional “flashing”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point! I think that exhibitionism can happen without actually being nude. It could also be in underwear for example, it all depends on the background of their target. In several countries a woman is probably considered an exhibitionist when she wears a short skirt…


  4. The confusion that others can make when they refer to nudists as exhibitionists is one of the barriers we face in being accepted more widely. I often think that parts of the media and fashion industries encourage this by using terms like nude and naked to imply a sexual aspect, when genuine nudists know that social nudism means accepting each other naked while doing many things that others do while clothed, that have no sexual element. Those industries often present people wearing very skimpy clothing that can draw attention to the body parts mentioned in your post, in a sexual way. Nudists have no body shame, we accept each other as we are when naturally naked. Released from the complexes that wider society may place on nudity we are free from clothes and other restrictions, we are just ourselves without labels. Lots of vested interests like to perpetuate the myth that real nudists are also exhibitionists.


  5. The way I see it, it’s not necessarily either/or – nudists can be exhibitionists. Examples:
    1) The guy sporting an erection on a conventional naturist beach, wanting to be seen
    2) The woman consciously lying legs wide open on a conventional naturist beach, wanting to be seen
    3) The man or woman who masturbates at home thinking about the way they paraded naked on a naturist beach even if not in category 1) or 2)


  6. My husband and I have always thought as nudist we are a little bit of both, exhibitionists and voyeurs. After all, if we are nudist don’t we want to be seen nude and also see others nude. Does that make it a bad thing ? No ! The human body is god’s gift to us all and we should enjoy viewing it in all of it’s glorious shapes and sizes. We should also enjoy seeing ourselves nude. This is removed from the sexual/swinger side of nudism whether we like it or not does exist. They have their own agenda and we should not judge ourselves by it.

    Liked by 1 person

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