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64 Responses

  1. matttbastard
    matttbastard May 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    ‘Bare-Assed & Preggers’ — I think you have the title of your memoirs, Nat.

  2. andrea
    andrea May 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    Great post Natalia! I really enjoyed reading it :-)

  3. Jadey
    Jadey May 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    Nudity has been incredibly healing for me in various times throughout my life.

    Like many people, I have intense body shame, and I have often avoided intimacy as well as various social opportunities because of it. I used to love swimming, but I will not swim anymore because I am deeply humiliated by the very thought of myself in a swimsuit. A lot of my daily life is consumed by thoughts of how awful my body is and how much I want to hide it. It’s everything – fat, hair, skin condition, fingernails, scabs and scars, weird shapes, you name it. If it’s part of my body, then I am ashamed of it.

    A few years ago, I got into modelling for life drawing classes, which meant standing for hours naked in front of anywhere from one to a dozen people. The stuff of nightmares, right?. But it was exhilarating, freeing, and incredibly relaxing. I have never ever felt as good about my body and myself as I did did during those years. (I’ve since had to stop for other reasons. Also, I never entirely got over the shame, but it did really help.) It was wonderful to finally just be myself, completely unclothed and unhidden, and have it be a total non-issue. I didn’t feel sexualized or examined or repulsive or weird or anything at all beyond who I was. I picked poses based on what I thought might be interesting to draw, and not what “flattered” me. Some of my most successful poses were ones that took advantage of my body’s unique traits – things that the artists would not have been able to get from another model. Body diversity wasn’t just accepted, it was actively desired – the artists got bored of drawing the same bodies and poses again and again.

    I’m not modelling anymore, but I’ve kept on with a form of personal nudity therapy. Not my own, but other people’s. I love nude artwork, especially photography. Tumblr been great for this – I’ve filled my dashboard with nudity of all kinds, most especially of non-normative, non-ideal-type bodies. Seeing beauty in every body helps me remember to find my own body beautiful. It helps me cut down on the baggage of what my body “ought” to look like.

  4. vanessa
    vanessa May 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    love it! i’ve always wanted to explore Being Nekkid in, erm, semi public places–I have a lot of problems with my body (I’m fat, which I feel like being upset about kind of ruins my feminist credentials, but nonetheless I am; I also have a LOT of scars of my body from years of self injury). How does one find such a place?

  5. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin May 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    I’ve never been to an actual nude beach, but I wonder if doing so would help my phobia of men due to childhood abuse. I suppose when it’s there and inescapable, you must learn how to cope. I would give anything to convince my mind that naked man (or any man, for that matter) usually does not equal impending sexual boundary violation and violation of trust.

  6. Nahida
    Nahida May 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    I felt like I did when I first read Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” while reading this.

  7. gretel
    gretel May 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    I’m curious: Did the man who took your photo ask you for permission?

  8. vanessa
    vanessa May 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    Hmm. I live in DC. Also I dont fly. Perhaps I need to start my OWN nude beach…

  9. oldlady
    oldlady May 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |

    Yes, California STILL has nude beaches. When I lived there years ago, I frequently went to a nude beach that was between Ventura and Santa Barbara. This was in the 70s, 80s, early 90s. I was nervous and self-conscious at first (What about my stretch marks? What about my sagging tits?), but I discovered that no one really paid much attention to anyone else. Many people, all shapes, sizes, ages, colors. We were all there because we loved the sun and the sea and that seemed to take care of it all. It was an entirely liberating experience that I enjoyed for many years.

  10. gretel
    gretel May 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    Natalia Antonova: I asked that guy to take my picture, of course. For the future generations (which are currently trying to kick me in the ribs).

    Okay, cool! I was just unclear!

  11. Rachel
    Rachel May 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm |

    I don’t know that I would go to a nude beach, but I would consider modeling for an art class like Jadey talked about.

    Definitely an interesting idea, thanks for writing!

  12. vanessa
    vanessa May 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm |

    Natalia–hmm. I’ve never heard of one, but perhaps I will go and yelp it.

  13. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |

    Nudity has been surprisingly helpful at boosting my body acceptance. It was a game of strip poker that made me realize that EVERYONE had hangups about their body, and if we were all naked, then people were far more worried about their own bodies than concerned about judging mine. When I finally dated someone at age 20 and he didn’t recoil in horror at my fat rolls that chipped away a bit more at my body hatred. A combo mix of bellydance and being addicted to the Adipositivity Project helped a whole bunch more. If the only mostly nude bodies we see are ones that are airbrushed and slender, then it’s so much easier to worry about perceived flaws in our own bodies. I found that seeing the awesome diversity of human bodies really helped to break down that perception.

  14. I write about naked grandmas… I mean, naturism – for Feministe « Natalia Antonova

    [...] Natalia Antonova The sky is high. The Czar is far. « Arnold I write about naked grandmas… I mean, naturism – for Feministe May 25, 2011 Yay. [...]

  15. Bridget
    Bridget May 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    My hippie parents brought us to nude beaches when we were kids. I also did art modeling for a while in college. These experiences were very liberating for me. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that skinny-dipping at parties is not usually a comfortable situation for me…but then again I was probably just hanging out with the wrong people!

  16. Barb
    Barb May 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm |

    While I haven’t been to nude beaches, opportunity just hasn’t presented itself nor have I sought it out, regardless of my fat self I actually found myself very comfortable with my body, rolls and all. Granted I have a fairly liberal group of men/women friends who most of us have naked hot tub’d together in a non-sexual way.

    It catches me off guard when my new girlfriends won’t even go to the Korean day spa where all you are wearing is a hair net and bracelet to keep your locker key while in the soaking pool areas. It’s just a bunch of women, skinny, old, fat, young, prego, etc and no one is looking.

  17. Jim
    Jim May 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    There’s a saying that no one is worth looking at until they’re fifty, because until then there really isn’t very much to see. At least it’s true for pine trees.

    Jadey: Also, I never entirely got over the shame, but it did really help.)

    How did you ever get over the cold?

    I love that whole story, Jadey.

  18. Jadey
    Jadey May 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm |

    Jim: How did you ever get over the cold?

    :D Space heaters. Space heaters are very, very important.

    Also, being fat didn’t hurt!

  19. vanessa
    vanessa May 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    omigosh I forgot–if you are in the DC area the closest thing we have is Spa World. There are clothes (well, orange pj uniforms…) in the unisex area, but the single sex areas, which involve assorted sorts of hot tubs, are all about the naked. It’s really, really nice.

  20. Nahida
    Nahida May 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |

    Natalia Antonova: Oh dear. Whitman! I love him – but is me channeling him a bad thing, or a good thing?

    Good thing. =)

  21. Kai
    Kai May 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    Natalia Antonova: And I’ve only ever been to nude beaches in Russia, Ukraine and Croatia, but I hear that Cali has a lot of them. True? False?

    Not sure about *a lot* of them, but they’re out there, officially or unofficially. I used to go to a fairly popular beach in San Diego that was *optional*. Also been to Japanese spas in Cali and New Mexico with nude hot baths (some coed, some women only), and I remember quite a bit of nudity on beaches in France too. It’s nice when people can just chill out and (ironically?) forget about their body.

  22. Red Stapler
    Red Stapler May 25, 2011 at 8:22 pm |

    The campgrounds I visit every summer has a swimming hole that is clothing-optional, and it is *grand.*

    There are people of every shape and size.

    The first time I went, I was nervous for no other reason than that my friend’s mother was with us, and the prospect seeing my friend’s mom felt a little awkward, but only at first.

    My friends and I don’t swim in that area anymore–we go to a “private beach” behind a friend’s campsite–but the spirit is the same.

    It’s very freeing–and core temperature reducing!–to take a naked dunk in a deep, cold, spring-fed creek in Western PA when it’s 95F and humid.

  23. Alan
    Alan May 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm |

    I loved this article thanks for sharing this. I think naturism is the great equaliser I mean once you are naked that’s all there is to you. No hiding behind expensive clothes or other trappings that we use as status symbols in the urban world we are simply our bodies and they are all beautiful no matter how old or what scars we may have. We are humans and there is beauty in just accepting others as we hope to be accepted in our natural form.

  24. Oleg
    Oleg May 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm |

    vanessa:
    Natalia–hmm. I’ve never heard of one, but perhaps I will go and yelp it.

    MARNA in Baltimore rents a pool every winter. Capital Area Family Naturists may have some winter activities. There are also nudist clubs close by, e.g., Avalon and MAHESO. The closest nude beach would be Sandy Hook in New Jersey.

  25. Gretel
    Gretel May 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm |

    I know this post is about swimming, but if anyone is a hiker, there’s an interesting section about naturism among German hikers in Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust.

  26. Jim
    Jim May 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm |

    Jadey: Also, being fat didn’t hurt!

    God bless you for raising a new generation of Titians!

  27. Bonn
    Bonn May 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm |

    I have to say … group bathing certainly did kill those “naked in public” dreams. So if you have those “naked in public” dreams, I would definitely recommend getting naked in public.

    Legally, I mean. I don’t think getting arrested would help your subconscious much.

  28. Ashley
    Ashley May 25, 2011 at 10:41 pm |

    This is a pretty cool story. I’ve never been to a nude beach but I can imagine it would be pretty liberating.

  29. alynn
    alynn May 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm |

    I’m not a naked person…never have been, never will be. (See: Never-nude, ala Tobias Funke :)

    But I liked this piece and I totally support other people’s nakedness. That said, I think I love/appreciate my body w/o being someone who is comfortable hanging out naked around others…which seems weird to even myself to consider. I guess it’s like someone who loves to write poetry and they love their poems but they consider it a personal thing just for them and a select few others.

  30. CateofTexas
    CateofTexas May 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm |

    Hmmm….maybe I oughta head out to Hippie Hollow, a clothing optional public park out here by Austin. I think it’s true that sometimes clothing can be a barrier to just relaxing and being a human being! I used to run in a lot of hippie-ish crowds and I always liked at least going topless. If shirtless is ok for guys it should be ok for us ladies too.

  31. Jaybird
    Jaybird May 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm |

    In the USA, there is a Naturist Society; you can look it up (www.naturistsociety.com). It’s good that this was written about “naturism” rather than “nudism” because when naturists are at their best, they do exactly what people here have said–reject shame not just about having body parts that mustn’t be shown, but shame about how we’re fat, or saggy or hairy or any of the other things people fret about. Acceptance of one’s self and others is what’s most important. Liberating, it certainly is.

    One other thing that naturists say is that a lot of clothing, especially women’s clothing, is designed to perpetuate the idea of the body as physically desirable, with an erotic atmosphere generated by revealing and concealing at the same time. When we’re all naked that kind of foolishness gets left behind, and we’re all on the same level. Of course people have to behave themselves–it wasn’t so good to hear about people soliciting each other. But in principle, naturism is good feminism.

  32. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. May 26, 2011 at 2:45 am |

    So, I have a practical concern that I’m sure is easily alleviated. But what do you do to prevent sunburn on more delicate body parts? I’ve been to nude beaches at night, but out of concern for my nipples I’ve never tried one during the day.

  33. Bod Beag
    Bod Beag May 26, 2011 at 5:52 am |

    It is great that places exist where the naturist lifestyle can be enjoyed. It is also great that women in particular are finding body acceptance through communal nudity. Whether a woman is fat, thin, big breasted, small breasted, and even droopy breasted I have never once seen or heard any negative comments. However, as a man with a small penis who happens to enjoy naturism I have experienced negative comments and barely concealed giggles.

    Feminism has made great strides in terms of female body acceptance but I think that us males have a ways to go in letting our own feelings be heard.

  34. alynn
    alynn May 26, 2011 at 8:32 am |

    Bog Beag–It sucks that this has been your experience. No one’s body should be shamed. However, being someone who is not into naturism, but is just curious, I wonder if women who have non “ideal” bodies actually DO hear negative comments too, and you’re just haven’t hear them, since you aren’t, well, them.

    If female naturists never hear bad tings about their bodies, that’s great, but naturists are a small segment of the society, so I am not ready to pat feminists on the back and say, “our work here is done. People accept women’s bodies, let’s focus on male body acceptance.” I think there’s a long way to go for both, still.

  35. AVS
    AVS May 26, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    I loved your post, Natalia! One of my favourite things about going up to my grandparents’ cottage in the summer is skinny dipping (I just love the feeling of the water on all my bits and the freedom of it) but I never thought about expanding it from there. Definitely something to think about…

    And, Jadey, your story was really amazing!

    Thank you both!

  36. Vigée
    Vigée May 26, 2011 at 9:40 am |

    Jadey, that was a great story, I really loved it. I took my first drawing class with live nude models last fall, and although I wasn’t the naked one, it was an incredible experience of looking at the human body without judgement. Too bad I suck at drawing, as it turns out! I was also a swimmer in college and always had a fantasy of ditching the speedo for a practice and seeing what it would feel like to swim fast naked. I bet it would be awesome.

  37. new_guest
    new_guest May 26, 2011 at 11:27 am |

    Feminism has made great strides in terms of female body acceptance but I think that us males have a ways to go in letting our own feelings be heard.

    Men have had their feelings heard for a long time. For instance, I’ve grown up hearing people say men with large penises are more desirable and that a man’s worth is in whether or not he can have lots of sex with women. That’s actually one of the loudest proclamations coming from men.

    Perhaps you better tell your fellow men that making judgements about penis size makes you embarrassed, and explain that talented lovemakers use more than just their dicks.

    Feminists and the strides we’ve made aren’t the problem here – we’re just a convenient scapegoat for your insecurities.

  38. Bob
    Bob May 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm |

    vanessa:
    Hmm. I live in DC. Also I dont fly. Perhaps I need to start my OWN nude beach…

    Vanessa: You might check out http://www.marylandnudism.com/. They are centered in Baltimore, but that’s near D.C.

  39. Carrie S.
    Carrie S. May 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm |

    Red Stapler:
    The campgrounds I visit every summer has a swimming hole that is clothing-optional, and it is *grand.*

    It’s very freeing–and core temperature reducing!–to take a naked dunk in a deep, cold, spring-fed creek in Western PA when it’s 95F and humid.

    Huh, another Pennsic-goer. Who’d have thought. :)

  40. Paul Rapoport
    Paul Rapoport May 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm |

    Excellent article, excellent comments (The author’s, not all the others, necessarily). States the situation and ideas as well as anything I recall.

    Nonetheless, the designation “NSFW!” (whoever added it) for a couple of photos is condescending and presumptuous. The typical American notion that even a tiny bit of certain skin is “NSFW” for everyone and nothing else is is not only absurd but a contributor to the body phobia and malaise that the author so convincingly argues against.

  41. Jadey
    Jadey May 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    Paul Rapoport: Nonetheless, the designation “NSFW!” (whoever added it) for a couple of photos is condescending and presumptuous. The typical American notion that even a tiny bit of certain skin is “NSFW” for everyone and nothing else is is not only absurd but a contributor to the body phobia and malaise that the author so convincingly argues against.

    No, it’s respectful for people who could get fired if a coworker or boss or anyone in their workplace observes anything that *they* might consider pornographic on their computer screen. Or for people who are browsing in public spaces, like a library or internet cafe. Does it suck a little bit that people are going to interpret some pictures that way? Sure. But it’s not an insult for the author to be conscientious about their readers’ realities.

    Also, “typical American”? Really? Because I guarantee you plenty of non-USians use NSFW designations. Me, for one.

  42. Paul Rapoport
    Paul Rapoport May 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    Jadey: No, it’s respectful for people who could get fired if a coworker or boss or anyone in their workplace observes anything that *they* might consider pornographic on their computer screen. Or for people who are browsing in public spaces, like a library or internet cafe. Does it suck a little bit that people are going to interpret some pictures that way? Sure. But it’s not an insult for the author to be conscientious about their readers’ realities.

    Also, “typical American”? Really? Because I guarantee you plenty of non-USians use NSFW designations. Me, for one.

    “NSFW” started in the USA to continue the body phobia and negativity and is an unhappy cultural export. I stand by what I wrote. There are lots of photos thoretically “NSFW” that have nothing to do with nudity, if one assumes that one knows what everyone’s work is, which is ridiculous. And if you’re reading an article about naturism at work that doesn’t involve anything to do with it, then what’s up? Photos go with the territory.

    The American (and other) fixation on “skin” alone in the “NSFW” connection is wrong in both its uniqueness and its generality, and harmful. In this article it’s blatantly contradictory.

    You imply that all sites do this. They don’t and they shouldn’t.

  43. Jadey
    Jadey May 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm |

    I was about to reply to Paul Rapoport’s douchebaggery again when I realized that my time was so much better spent giving people a link to Leonard Nimoy’s magnificent Full Body Project (NSFW).

  44. Doctress Julia
    Doctress Julia May 26, 2011 at 6:03 pm |

    I love being naked! I started going to a co-operative hot tub in Milwaukee some years ago, and it totally changed my body image and the way I feel about nudity! :D

  45. Luke
    Luke May 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm |

    Thank you for your insight.

  46. alynn
    alynn May 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm |

    Jadey–thank you for the fabulous NSFW link and for so reasonably articulating why NSFW tags are helpful :)

  47. Dominique
    Dominique May 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm |

    Alan:
    I loved this article thanks for sharing this. I think naturism is the great equaliser I mean once you are naked that’s all there is to you. No hiding behind expensive clothes or other trappings that we use as status symbols in the urban world we are simply our bodies and they are all beautiful no matter how old or what scars we may have. We are humans and there is beauty in just accepting others as we hope to be accepted in our natural form.

    lol – this is the argument one of my boyfriends used to convince me to go to a naturist resort. About 30 minutes into the experience, he was pouting, frowning and sulking at me, then declared we were going home (he was the one with the ride and it was out in the countryside). I asked him why. He said “those men are staring at you! They’re looking at my girlfriend!” Of course, he was hoping to run into prettier girls than me, all naked. Didn’t happen :) That was my first experience; but surprisingly, not the last. It is, in fact, quite liberating to go swimming with no suit on. And to just not care what you look like. Being naked really does help.

  48. Pidgey
    Pidgey May 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm |

    Hmmm, I might have to participate in my city’s naked bike ride next month.

  49. Paul Rapoport
    Paul Rapoport May 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm |

    People who ignore points and call others names only expose their ignorance and lack of argument. Some will understand what I wrote. Happily, narrowness is not universal.

    Believing in the “NSFW” label is presumptuous and patronizing, and a laughably ineffective way to try to mind others people’s business.

  50. Liz Egger
    Liz Egger May 27, 2011 at 9:28 am |

    A great article Natalia. You’ve put over the feminine point of view perfectly.
    As a female naturist writer I am often asked the same questions by the curious.
    Now I can refer them to this article.
    Many thanks, and keep up the good work!
    Liz Egger, Author The Nudist Lifestyle Guide

  51. Red Stapler
    Red Stapler May 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

    Carrie S.: Huh, another Pennsic-goer.Who’d have thought. :)

    Carrie: GUILTY AS CHARGED! ^_^

  52. Maze
    Maze May 28, 2011 at 3:29 am |

    You wrote that Jock Sturges has “been accused of being a pedophile creep” because of his photographs. Well, he actually had illegal sexual encounters with a 14 year old girl, one of his models, four decades ago. Does that make him a “creep”? Do you really want to use that word?

    http://artcontroversies.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/a-tale-of-two-americans/

    You may be right that “Maybe if I’d posed for him at age 14, I would have had less body image issues while in high school.” Those who’ve worked with another American photographer, Frank Cordelle, an associate of Paul Rapoport, have had exactly this kind of positive experience.

    http://artcontroversies.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/innocent-nudes-by-frank-cordelle/

    But there are still American state laws whose vagueness hinder most photographers from working with nude 14 year old models, and Sturges and his friends haven’t (to my knowledge) lifted a finger to lobby to fix those laws or to assist in the defense of 14+ year old girls accused of “sexting” innocent nude pictures of themselves. In Alabama it’s illegal to photograph “breast nudity” if a jury finds it “obscene”, which they probably will. Wisconsin law forbids the “lewd exhibition of” a minor’s “breast” whatever lewd is supposed to mean. Laws like these violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding that “nudity, without more” is protected speech.

  53. GK
    GK May 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    Congratulation on expressing a constructive, whole body acceptance. This shows that you have a positive inner resolution that everyone should follow. Thank goodness for Hippie Hollow in Austin, Texas, Haulover Beach in Miami, Florida, naturist beaches worldwide, the FKK movement, and the countless backyard pools and hidden swimming holes where we all enjoy the waters in the best way – as a naturist. As Robert Heinlein wrote, we should all be true water brothers.

  54. Lyndsay
    Lyndsay June 1, 2011 at 8:05 am |

    I’m doing my first naked bike ride this weekend. Should be freeing.

  55. Senzzipp
    Senzzipp June 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm |

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