Sound and vision blog

28 July 2010

Voices of the UK - Nuddies vs. Textiles

This week I’ve been listening to a group of naturists who live in Dorset and enjoy getting an all-over tan (weather permitting) on the nudist beaches at Studland. They all strongly identify as naturists, considering themselves to be part of a minority group that sometimes finds itself threatened by those who do not understand or approve of their way of life. For example they describe being called ‘perverts’ by a group of youths who, ironically, were watching the sunbathing nudists through binoculars from a cliff-top. One way that they express this aspect of their identity is through their speech. In one part of the interview they mention words that they use which are likely to be known by other naturists but not necessarily by people from outside of that group. You can listen to the audio clip here>.

The word ‘textile’ is used to refer to a person who wears clothes on the beach as opposed to a ‘nuddy’ who goes without. One speaker mentions the different connotations of ‘textile’, describing how it can be used either as an insult or to be purely descriptive depending on the context of the conversation and the company they are in. To a person not involved in the naturist scene the meaning of these words might be guessed but they would not necessarily feel comfortable actually using them themselves. Using language in this way enables the naturists to subtly exclude those who are not part of their group by making them feel like linguistic outsiders. At the same time, when they use these terms the naturists communicate to each other that they are insiders and belong to the group. Words are used to display to others their involvement in naturism, much like the brown bum which they describe as a ‘badge of honour’ for committed nudists.


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