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  • Women in Focus - Helen hears from Martha Tess Vickery

    win_side.jpg.27ebc39fe9d2c3251e3c4b9965926c38.jpgMartha is 27 years old, from Somerset, and lives with her partner and 3 cats. She is a dreadmaker (a hairdresser for dreadlocks) and has been doing this for the last 7 years. She owns a patch of land in Dorset and is currently working on plans to relocate there, the ultimate goal of being ‘off grid’ and being as self reliant as possible. Martha is a body positivity campaigner and recently appeared as one of the brigade in the Channel 4 series Naked Education.

    Q: What got you into naturism/nudism?
    A: Rum… and a naturist documentary. At 19, I completely hated my body, I had done for some years. One night, after drinking for too much spiced rum, and seeing such happy, confident people wandering naked around a beautiful garden, I knew that I needed some of that in my life. Dutch courage gave us the confidence to buy the tickets to BN's Splashdown event, and that was that! I don't really drink at all now, but I've been a BN member since Splashdown 2016!

    Q. Is there a difference between the two labels?
    A. I think there is a difference between the two. For example, I refer to myself as a naturist because I'm always at my happiest when naked in nature; for me it's about feeling truly connected, truly human, rather than the emphasis being on the nudity. In my understanding at least, nudism seems more focused on nudity whenever possible, whereas I prefer to be naked when it makes sense, a practical naturist, if you will. I think that, whether you call yourself a naturist or a nudist, the core values of acceptance and respect are identical, so the labels don't make much difference to me.

    Q. How does it impact your life on a day-to-day basis?
    A. I'm very grateful that I've managed to build a life and create a job where I can have a lot of freedom. I'm self-employed and work from home, I work a 4 day week, with each client visiting every few months. They're all well aware that we're naturists (we have photos up, BN magazines oh-so-subtly left out on the table etc.) and they love to chat about it and hear what events are coming up etc. All in all, naturism has added to my life in many immeasurable tiny ways, but primarily by helping me find the confidence to build a life that suits me day-to-day.

    Q. What challenges do women face in naturism generally?
    A. Some women can find the gender imbalance at events intimidating. I can only speak from my own experience and, yes, there are more men than women, but the vast majority of those men are true gents, so I don't care if they outnumber us. However, on the occasions where their attention gets too much or is unwanted (the other issue women can face) we need to empower people to address the issue and set down boundaries so that everyone understands the situation and can feel safe. We are lucky enough to have a wonderful community and it's our responsibility to make it a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

    Q. How can we encourage more women to try it?
    A. Finding a way to run an event where nudity is a secondary element (charity, crafts, Stitch 'n' Bitch comedy, burlesque etc.) Women's only events, Group batch cooking, Kids/Family day events? Maybe not for newbie nudies, but perhaps for cautiously interested wives/partners of naturists?

    Q. How can women help in desexualising nudity?
    A. By normalising it. The pervasive idea that nudity is inherently sexual is perpetuated by overtly sexual adverts and social media posts. In the life of a non-naturist, the only times they may see naked bodies really, are times when they are thinking about (or about to have) sex, therefore people learn that nudity = sexual. Whereas if you are accustomed.to nudity, especially social nudity, it very quickly.becomes obvious that CONTEXT is key as to whether nudity is sexual or not! By normalising nudity, we help people re-learn that nudity isn't inherently sexual!

    Q. What can men do to help in desexualising nudity?
    A. As above, I'd say, I don't see a need for differentiation between gender on this subject. We're all humans, all naturists, and we can work on it together.

    Q. How can we encourage body positivity and acceptance?
    A. Stuck record over here - but I think it's again by normalising nudity, normalising real bodies, helping people to understand that they have a body that is well within the bounds of what is normal, no matter how bizarre they think they are. We're all different, but all exactly the same, having a body in this odd little shape is the one thing that unites literally every human being on this planet. In a world that profits from us not liking ourselves it's an act of rebellion to learn to accept the skin you're in. We just need to help people realise that they're allowed to like themselves, that it's not vain, or conceited, or cocky, to just be okay with the body that you have.

    Q. What advice would you offer to women curious about naturism?
    A. Give it a go! Worst case scenario, you can chalk it up to experience, cross it off the list and get on with other things. But if it gets you like it got me, then it will change your life.

    Q. What drives your passion in promoting naturism?
    A. Naturism changed my life, plain and simple, I wouldn't be the person that I am today without it, and, as it turns out, I'm growing to quit like the me that I am nowadays.

    Q. Is your family supportive?
    A. They're certainly not unsupportive, for most of them it isn't their thing but they don't care that I do it! (Although my mum did get in a bit of a tizzy when I told her I was going to be naked on TV!) My eldest little sister likes to come along to events with me though, and has done since she was 12.

    Q. Has naturism changed since you first got involved?
    A. The balance of men to women seems to have levelled out a little, I also see a lot more younger people/couples and families

    Q. How do you see the future of naturism?
    A. I hope that we continue to see increasing diversity in our memberships. The increase in female, family and younger members is always a bonus, but at the end of the day, we need bodies! The more of us there are the more opportunities we can create for others to give it a try and maybe join us crazy naked people in a field sometime, or at a swim or on a walk, I don't care where, we just need to get more people naked and accepting of themselves and their bodies!

    podcast-icon-32.png.120768d926f8359f7f5c7e987eef9b7d.png Martha was featured on episode 5 of the Women in Focus podcast. You can listen to her episode here.

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