This is one of those guest-posts I’ve been promising to write for many an age now. I hope you enjoy…?
I became a naturist in a totally feminist fashion – all due to a man.
When he told me that he believed that genuine nude beaches were the best, my initial reaction was, “Um, hell no. Wtf?!”
Roughly 24 hours later, I was standing on a nude beach, having been dragged there. I was really tired, due to the dragging and whatnot. We were camped out near a group of naked strangers, most of whom were middle-aged Ukrainian men. They were busy roasting something over an open fire. A couple of little boys, also naked, really wanted to be part of the roasting experience. “Alright, who farted?!” One of the naked men yelled. “If you little bastards are going to cook, you’ll need better manners!”
It was at that point I decided that I had absolutely nothing to lose in this situation. “Can you untie these?” I asked my guy, and offered him the strings at the back of my bikini top. He untied them for me, and then I slid out of my bikini bottoms as well, and walked into the sea, naked as a jaybird. After I was done floating and watching the seagulls and clouds and marveling at how much better my body felt without the bikini on, I sat on my towel and stared at the waves. People on their way through to a different beach, people who totally had their clothes on, kept glancing at me as they passed, but not in any way that made me feel uncomfortable.
“Hm, wow, this is kind of awesome, actually” I thought to myself at the time. And so I became a naturist.
I don’t own any sort of “swimming costume” whatsoever now (although I probably should). I’ve probably seen more naked dudes, and grandmas, and sullen naked teenagers than some people do in their lifetimes. A naked Russian guy, shaved head and huge tattoos, took a picture of me at an indoor pool late last autumn – I’m about 7 weeks pregnant in it, but you can’t tell, unless the slightly dazed look in my eyes gives me away. I’m saving that picture for when my future son is old enough to understand the significance of the moment.
My husband and I (the man who dragged me to the nude beach naturally became my husband) do plan on raising him to be cool with it all (but he won’t streak at any Duke basketball games, I hope – you can get expelled for that stuff nowadays).
Meanwhile, a lot of my friends from the States have had some questions about my embrace of naturism.
“But don’t you get worried about getting stared at? Treated like an object? Especially being feminist and all?” They ask me.
It’s a reasonable question, and it’s not as if naturists don’t gawk at each at all. It’s just usually not the sort of gawking that’s incredibly intrusive. Naked dudes have certainly been sleazy to me at naturist gatherings, and as for naked ladies, they hit on my husband all the time (must… take… as… compliment.. must… take… as… goddamn… compliment) – but when everyone is naked, it isn’t really that different than getting hit on, say, at a bus stop.
“But aren’t you freaked out about everyone seeing your body’s flaws?”
As a naturist, I actually freak out less about that stuff. It’s helped me cope with body issues – and it’s helped me accept the growing baby bump. As odd as it may sound, it was through revealing everything that I realized that people have nothing much to hide.
“BUT ISN’T IT KINDA GROSS?! I mean, naked old people!”
Once it’s all out there in the open, the phenomenon of aging is just…normal Bodies change shape over time. And people who’ve never seen the inside of a gym usually look different than people who have. Some people have smaller butts than you do. Others have butts that are bigger. You start taking it for granted very quickly.
But isn’t it unsexy when there is no mystery?
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, the way I see it (pun not intended).
For example, there’s a woman at my pool who, I think, looks stunning in the buff. While she’s wearing clothes, she looks alright, but I wouldn’t pick her out of a crowd.
Incidentally, controversial photographer Jock Sturges certainly has an interesting approach to both [NSWF!] beauty and mystery within a naturist context. He has reminded me that the naked body can certainly be mysterious. He’s also been accused of being a pedophile creep because there are naked young [NSFW!] girls in his photos, but I find nothing exploitative about his work. I think it’s honest, beautiful and kinda innocent. Maybe if I’d posed for him at age 14, I would have had less body image issues while in high school. Or maybe that’s the Decadent European in me talking. I suppose people can make up their own minds.
What’s the point of naturism, really?
I think it’s different for different people. I realized it allowed me to have a healthier approach to my body and to nature and to clothes. I LOVE clothes, but I can’t always afford what I like, and I’m also concerned with how clothes are made. It’s good to remember that I still have my skin – that clothes can become meaningless for a moment.
A lot of people join naturist communities as a way of encouraging healthy body image in their kids.
Some organize naturist meet-up as a means of meeting sexy naked ladies, or sexy naked gentlemen.
Some combine naturism and environmentalism, and would argue that the two are one and the same.
But what if I also decide that naturism is cool, and then I’ll be attending some naturist thingie, and I bring my penis along to the occasion, and suddenly, I get a boner?
The world will not end.