These days, the terms are used almost synonymously, but their true meanings are a bit different. The biggest distinction is when and where one enjoys being without clothes and how one views the act of being naked.
Strictly speaking, a nudist is one who shuns clothes any place or time, primarily because he or she enjoys being naked. A naturist, on the other hand, takes off his or her clothes to be closer to a natural state of being, getting naked in outdoors settings such as parks and campsites.
Some definitions take the distinction a step farther, saying that naturism is a physical representation of shedding the confines of society, whereas nudism is just about being naked.
One thing that holds true, no matter how you define yourself, is that many others don’t always understand the desire to be naked in public. A number of nudists and naturists feel the need to hide that part of their life from friends and family for fear of being ostracized. Those who aren’t part of the lifestyle often extrapolate the act of being naked with being involved in deviant sexual activities.
In fact, though, no matter which moniker you use to describe yourself, nudity has next to nothing to do with sexual activity. To prove that point, many nudists and naturists are families who enjoy the lifestyle together.
Whether getting back to nature, stripping the confines of everyday life, or just being comfortable in your own skin, going out in public without clothes is a pastime that is enjoyed by more and more people around the world each year.