I have always been a big girl with rock bottom body image. A shy kid and a bit of a geek who had few friends and never really fitted in, I reinvented myself at university. The first person I met on my first day at work was the man who would become my husband.
We spent a day at Studland beach and I mentioned I had been there as a teenager and stumbled by accident onto the naturist section - it was clear my husband wanted to try it! He stripped off and ran down to the sea.
Later, he persuaded me to visit Abbey House Gardens with him, assuring me that I would not need to be naked. He got his kit off and we toured the gardens. I was surrounded by naked people, they walked round the gardens, laughing and talking, just enjoying ‘being’. I actually felt uncomfortable being clothed! Feeling very self conscious, I removed my clothes and stood for the first time, outside and completely naked! At first I felt embarrassed but in a surprisingly short time I felt comfortable. No one was staring or making fun of me, they just allowed me to enjoy a beautiful spot alongside them.
We’ve made wonderful friends and I never feel less judged as when I am with fellow naturists. I wish I had tried it years ago. To any women out there who baulk at the idea of trying naturism because of body image, I would say throw off your fears and join a group of the most supportive people it has ever been my pleasure to meet.