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Baring it all: An inside look at Florida's nudism industry

CBS News Live
CBS News Miami Live

LUTZ — A Florida community is garnering national attention for one of its more freeing recreational activities: nudism.

According to a 2017 study by Saint Leo University through the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), the nudism industry generates about $7.4 billion for Florida's economy annually.

CBS News affiliate WTSP toured one nudist community in Pasco County to learn more about why people are deciding to bear it all.

Florida's nudism industry bares all 02:52

"I can't imagine living anywhere else," said Traci Kanaan, president of the Paradise Lakes Condominium Association.

Kanaan told WTSP that she wished to make the move to the gated community much sooner. Her earliest discoveries of the lifestyle began while performing standup comedy at a nearby resort.

"I already knew a bunch of people here from my days entertaining," she said. "I knew I was walking in with a family."

The gated community, which is separated from the resort, is like any other neighborhood. From the bodies of water to enjoy, lights and decorations for the holidays on display, and even public gathering spots. Additionally, there's a memorial on-site to honor residents who lost their lives, WTSP reported. However, neighbors here strip themselves of judgment.

"When you're not wearing clothes, you don't know, you know, who dropped out of high school or who's the doctorate? Or who's on a fixed income or who's the multimillionaire?" Kanaan said. "They're just good people."

Kanaan told WTSP that she's appreciative of the culture of body acceptance within the nudist spaces she's in. From different shapes and sizes to life-altering surgeries and even tattoos, the acceptance is widespread for her.

WTSP reported that like other nudist resorts and living spaces, residents and guests of Paradise Lakes must abide by rules and security as a priority.

The lifestyle is no longer just for older populations. Kanaan told WTSP that the bulk of people within the community are between the ages of 30 and 60, with more young and curious visitors exploring it in recent years.

Additionally, business appears to be booming -- especially after the pandemic. For instance, younger guests have been renting out short-term stays at some of the themed units Kanaan owns: Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, Boogie Nights and even old Cape Cod are just a few.

According to the same study mentioned before, about 2.2 million people travel annually to Florida for nudist vacations.

Phone calls and inquiries about the industry are being made from all over the world, community associate manager Alice Kuhn told WTSP.

"We're just naturalists. If we're cold, we put something on. If we're hot, we could take it off. We just want to be ourselves," Kuhn said.

Kuhn told WTSP she was first introduced to naturism over 20 years and never looked back since. She said she's never felt safer than in her own private neighborhood.

"It's not a sexual thing," she said. "It's just people that are very comfortable with themselves in their own skin."

Naked or not, neighbors often gather through potlucks and celebrate with events like themed golf cart parades,  on top of sports, music and other recreational activities, WTSP reported.

"It becomes chosen family," Kanaan told WTSP. "We're a very welcoming community."

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