Archive | Personal RSS feed for this section

Naturists – Why Are We Social (Naked) Animals?

4 Sep
Image

Naturists Being Social (know the source? let me know)

I spent last weekend in the company of some very good friends visiting The Naturist Foundation Brockenhurst club/resort in Orpington, Kent.  Weather was great and there was a volleyball tournament on, but even as a non-player I had a wonderful time sunbathing, swimming, eating and drinking with my naturist friends.

We talked about a lot of things but one thing I asked a few people about was this: why are we all hanging out naked?  Why are we social naturists?

Almost everyone, when asked about why they are a naturist, will respond with the explanation of why they like to be naked.  They feel free, they feel comfortable, they feel better about themselves, they feel more natural or connected to nature.  That’s the usual line.

Those are all good reasons, great reasons, to take off your clothes and go naked.  But you don’t need to be a social naturist to do that.  If the only reason you are doing it is because you like to be naked, you don’t need to go to anywhere special.  You don’t need to travel far and spend money going to a club or a swim or a beach.  You can just leave your clothes off at home and live your life clothes-free and be as comfortable as you like.

But we naturists don’t just leave it at home.  We go out into the world and find places and times when we can take off our clothes and be naked in the company of others.  Why do we do that?

Well, of course, we want to socialise.  We want to get together with our friends and meet others who share the same views as us.  Who doesn’t?

But why should we need to do that naked?  If this is a meeting of sympathetic souls, why can’t we just all go to the pub or something?  Why do we choose to socialise together specifically in places where we can take off our clothes?

At the time when I was talking to my friends, none of us could come up with a quick, easy explanation.  But having given it some thought over the past few days, I’ve come up with a few different things which might motivate social naturism.

The chance to do other, different stuff naked

Most people aren’t content just to stay home all the time.  We need stimulation to mind and body in order to stay healthy and active.  Naturists don’t see that need as a reason to not be naked.  So we go to swims and naturist clubs so that we can do more naked than just watch TV on the sofa and do housework.  At naturist clubs and events we can swim and play sport without clothes on, we can eat dinner out, we can drink in bars, we can play games and dance, our kids can play, we can do any number of activities.  We could do these things elsewhere, but we’d have to wear clothes to do them.  But these naturist places and events exist, and so to us it is worth travelling to them to do the activities naked rather than clothed.

The ‘Might As Well’ factor

This is something I have thought about especially in relation to going naked when visiting other naturists (or them visiting me).  If you are in an appropriate location (be it a private home or a naturist venue) with other people who you know also enjoy being naked and are comfortable with nudity, then what really is the point of any of you having clothes on?  Even if all you are doing is getting together to eat pizza and watch a movie, if you are people for whom nudity is socially acceptable and preferrable, you might as well take off your clothes.  It isn’t necessary, it’s just something you do because it seems reasonable in that company.

To live for a while without concern

Many people who are naturists find some aspect or other of living in a non-naturist world restrictive.  It might be that we live with family or friends or housemates who aren’t 100% comfortable with nudity.  It might be that we don’t have a private garden.  It might be that our front windows face onto the street and so we have to choose between nudity and opening the curtains to let in natural light.  It might just be that we get a lot of visitors and so are forever shrugging in and out of dressing gowns.

Going to naturist venues and events is our chance, for however long we are there, to escape all that and just wander about naked.  It’s a break from the ‘textile’ world; a place where we can swim and sit and walk and talk without clothes on, without making any sort of compromise in the way we are living.  We don’t have to hide away this part of ourselves for a while.

We socialise ‘better’ naked

This is a particularly pertinent one for me, as it is one of the driving forces for me in becoming involved with naturism.

I get anxious about social situations.  I’m shy, and rather quiet.  I lack self-confidence and I doubt myself a lot.  I keep a lot to myself and it means making friends and being casual and conversational with other people is sometimes difficult for me.

But being naked in social situations with other, friendly, like-minded people helps, for me, to break down some of the barriers and awkwardness that my emotional state leads me to often create for myself.  So I seek the company of other naturists because they are people in whose company I feel relaxed.

Even if you aren’t quite like me, there is still something honest and truthful about being naked with your friends.

You can have those experiences without being naked, of course – it isn’t essential, good relationships with other people can come out of all sorts of situations.  But for people who enjoy naturism, it might be that we feel a wish to make those sort of connections through social nudity.

We want to feel ‘normal’

Naturism breaks some social taboos.  As people, we are raised in a world which tells us our naked bodies are private.  We aren’t supposed to be naked except for reasons of hygiene and intimacy.  Nakedness in front of others is supposed to be a sexual thing.

So when we decide that we disagree with that view, we can start to feel like we might be doing something wrong, or abnormal.  We can develop a mindset of isolation from those who don’t share our views and maybe even start to feel we are somehow weird.

To meet other naturists, and to discover great, healthy, well-rounded and diverse individuals from all walks of life who all share our beliefs, attitudes and enjoyment of clothes-free living, is a great reassurance that we aren’t actually doing something wrong by breaking that particular social convention.  It’s a reminder that we aren’t wrong, just different, and that there are plenty of other people out there with the same difference as us.

So those are some of the factors that I think inform that rather strange desire we naturists have to spend time and money travelling around the country and the world to find places to be naked and people to be naked with.

You might have additional feelings of your own which I haven’t thought of.  I’d love to hear your comments.

How I Briefly Became a Writer For The Daily Star (Possibly. Sort Of.)

19 Aug

I think it’s safe to say most bloggers would like to have a lot of people read their words and opinions.  I blog for the fun of it but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to be reaching a big audience.

Well today I actually got the chance to do that.  Sort of.

This morning I saw a post on the Facebook page of Body Gossip, a positive body image campaign which I follow.  The post was about a TV spot on the BBC where a volunteer organiser from the group had gone up against Katie Hopkins, a woman who failed to win the UK Apprentice show in 2006 and has since been making a name for herself as a sort of “rent-a-gob” when shows and papers want a controversial and ill-founded opinion aired in a particularly self-obsessed way.

In this case, Hopkins was talking about how she flat-out doesn’t like fat people, and so favours a society in which the maximum pressure is put on people to be skinny.  To that end, Hopkins talked about how she wouldn’t offer a job in her company to a fat person.

She was mastefully shot down by Natasha, the volunteer from Body Gossip.  And when I saw that Natasha had said she didn’t know what Katie Hopkins did, I decided I’d have a look.  So one trip to Wikipedia later, I had some material for a joke at Hopkins’ expense, and I figured I may as well post it on the public thread on the Facebook page.

Image

I thought no more about it until later today, when the Body Gossip Facebook posted a link to a column on the website of The Daily Star, a British tabloid newspaper.  I read the article and when I got to the end, I couldn’t help but smile.  The Daily Star writers had, I am pretty sure, used my joke!

Image

The wording is better than mine (probably why their writer is a paid journalist and I’m just a – naked – blogger) but other than that, it’s pretty much exactly my gag.

Of course it could be a coincidence – we both thought of the same funny point to make – but what I prefer to think is that the Star writer was browsing the Body Gossip Facebook in order to find out a bit about the group, saw my comment and thought “that’s quite funny – I’ll use that!”

Some people might be a bit unhappy that something they came up with was being presented by another writer as their own work but it didn’t bother me – I wrote it on a public forum because I thought it was funny, anyone else can do with it what they wished.  I was flattered more than anything, it was nice to think they liked my joke enough to use it themselves.

So why am I writing about this on my naturist blog?

Well, I first became aware of Body Gossip after naturist friends began promoting the group.  Naturism and body positive thinking go hand in hand, in my opinion.  Naturism encourages people to feel good about themselves, however they look, and going nude socially is a big confidence-booster, at least it has been in my experience.  So I fully support what Body Gossip does in trying to encourage people to be proud of their bodies whatever shape those bodies might be.

People like Katie Hopkins, who think that if someone doesn’t look a certain way, they should be shamed and ostracised, indeed no longer treated like a person with the same worth as everyone else, are the natural enemy of people like us naturists.  They are like the people who are saying some folk shouldn’t enjoy going nude “because nobody wants to see that” – policing other people’s bodies because they don’t meet their own personal standards of what they consider attractive.  Naturists don’t (or shouldn’t) care what you look like, so long as you enjoy your life and treat yourself and others with equal respect.

That’s why when people like Hopkins speak up with their poisonous views, we should be there to shoot them down along with the body-positive activists.  And even though it was under someone else’s name, I am glad my joke got used to do that.

Families and Naturism

16 Aug

Family has been on my  mind a lot these past few days.  I travelled yesterday to Essex, where my family are from.  It wasn’t a happy occasion – my grandmother passed away a couple of weeks ago and we were attending her funeral.  All the same, it was good to see my extended family again.

None of my family members are naturists, that I know of.  My youngest cousin used to run around their farmhouse naked up until about the age of 6 or 7 though.  As far as I remember, she just hated clothes.  My aunt allowed it and as a child I remember my mum and grandmother voicing their disapproval, in the way an adult might disapprove of a parent who indulges a faddy eater.  My cousin was just a faddy dresser.

She stopped as she grew up, or at least, she wears clothes in company now.  I can’t speak for her private life!  I wouldn’t know, because my girlfriend and I have never discussed naturism with our families, not really.

It’s not really been a conscious, “let’s-never-tell-anyone” secret for us.  It’s just never come up.  We live in our own house and do our own things.  I left home at 18 and didn’t become a naturist until I was 25 – my girlfriend only really through being with me.

So I haven’t felt the need to tell my mum, or anyone else in my family. I don’t know how they’d feel about it.  I’m sure they’d be fine but until I feel like sitting down and explaining it to them, I’m leaving it as it is.

As for my girlfriend, I have left that up to her.  At the moment she hasn’t wanted to talk about it with anyone in her family except her sister.  She doesn’t think her parents would have a problem with it though.  They used to go to nude beaches in France when she was a kid and their household has always been pretty relaxed about nudity, especially where my girlfriend is concerned.

We did talk about Spielplatz once though (without mentioning it was a naturist club).  My girlfriend’s dad thought it sounded great – he wanted to go!

I have friends who have told their non-naturist parents, with varying results.  Some have had no problem with it, others have given a grudging acceptance (“as long as it’s not in the house/outside your room etc”).  Nobody I know seems to have irreparably damaged their relationship with family by telling them they are naturists.

We will probably have to tell them when we have kids.  We both agree that our home will be (for the children) clothing-optional, and naturist clubs and swims will be fun places that hopefully our kids will enjoy visiting.  But it won’t be fair on the kids to expect them to keep all that a secret, and make them feel like we are doing something bad or wrong.

So we’ll tell the truth, and hope they don’t disapprove quite as much as they disapproved of my aunt letting my cousin run around naked.