In your enthusiasm to introduce people to the naturist lifestyle you may need to pause and think of how you are going to portray it, as those first few words could make the difference between attraction and repulsion.
So often I have heard the question, “Why would I want to do that?” and that can mean a lengthy explanation, so let’s get the explanation in first and they won’t need to ask!
“I go somewhere where we all take our clothes off and lie in the sun, play sports or swim in the pool in the nude.” This usually raises the big question, “Why?”
“After a long day at work in the summer, whilst you are on your way home in the car, stuck in the traffic, picture me on my way to my club where I will be able to jump into a pool which will be refreshing, invigorating and relaxing. I will climb out and leisurely dry myself before lounging in the sun with a drink at my side and in the company of other relaxed, contented people. I will let my skin safely soak up the much-needed vitamin D and totally unwind after a day at work. We will enjoy pleasant conversation until the sun goes down. All this and the total freedom of being naked, too.”
Famous comedian Frank Carson wasn’t wrong when he said, “It’s the way I tell ’em!” It’s all in the delivery. If you describe the sensation first and the way to achieve it second, the listener is already wanting it and will lap it up. It’s marketing!
This is what the famous M&S ads have achieved. They describe a quite ordinary meal in such a way that we are salivating at the mere thought of it. We can copy this method, “This is no ordinary way to relax - this is the naturist way to relax.” We can make it sound so much more special than everyone else’s!
When someone asks me where I go at the weekend I don’t just say, “I go to a naturist club and take my clothes off.” What does that tell them? The bare facts, yes! But it does nothing to sell naturism, or Blackthorns, in fact it runs the risk of their thinking that I’m ‘one of those strange people’, and I don’t want them to think that, at least, not because of naturism!
What I say is: “I belong to a club that is set in 15 acres of woodland. It’s a beautiful natural setting that is full of birdsong and wildlife. There are many types of trees and in spring the floor is a carpet of primroses and violets, followed by masses of bluebells. There is always the chance to spot muntjac or roe-deer that frequent the wood and so many types of birds to look out for and identify. Their songs are so beautiful. You might never hear anything like it if you live in a built-up area. It is such a relaxing place to be and I’m sure it is a help to lose some of the stresses of life and gives me a complete break. It’s like having a mini-holiday right on my doorstep! We have a pool and patio that catch the sunshine all through the day, right until the last rays are setting in the distance.
We have a communal barbecue where we cook our own food and dine together, drinking and talking until late in the evening. Families and children are included and we are of all ages and backgrounds, making an interesting group of people that can evoke conversation that you might never find elsewhere. In conversation and discussion, we are all equals, sharing laughter and friendship. We also have many sporting facilities, so we can be as active as we wish or merely soak up the sunshine - all of which is made even more comfortable by the fact that we remove the constrictions of clothing and are totally free to the world. It’s a great place to be.”
There, weren’t you lapping all that up and then, had you not been reading BN, only at the end would you have realised that we take our clothes off. Before that, not a mention of nudity or naturism, but the impression of a comfortable relaxed atmosphere - one of which who wouldn’t want to be part?
If you don’t have a club like Blackthorns to describe you can still use your experiences, be they at a beach, swim or holiday resort. Describe your holiday with great emphasis on every aspect you think that particular listener would be keen on, whether it is a lovely beach, beautiful scenery, long walks or the nearest golf course. If you attend a swim enlarge on the friendly atmosphere and the health and fitness aspect, followed by the social side of belonging to a group of like-minded people.
Paint a picture that is so good that everyone wants some of it and then throw in the naturist factor! Leaving the nudity bit to last takes away its importance and hopefully helps people to accept that it is a natural part of our life and not the only part.
Once this aspect has been mentioned, keep the attention by describing the feeling of invigoration and freedom. Ask if they have watched the television programme How to Look Good Naked. Most know of it as once the word ‘naked’ is used people will watch! Isn`t it amazing that the one subject they find repulsive in reality is the one they find compulsive television viewing! The expression used to describe the final photo shoot by the ladies who have found the courage to strip for it is “liberating”. Almost all have said that nudity was their biggest fear and, once done, they have found the strength to face the world and anything it might throw at them. And to think we are doing this all the time!
Of course, there will be some who still suspect nudity equals sexual activity, and that is to be expected of some narrow-minded individuals who only see naked bodies depicted in that way. It isn’t really their fault that they are suspicious, but we must try to explain the difference and it is our open attitude that will guide them to accept that our social nudity is of a non-sexual nature.
Explain that because everyone is naked it becomes the norm and no longer attracts the attention that it would in the high street. In fact it is the newcomer, still fully dressed, that gets noticed. As for any sexual attraction, just point out that it is the addition of clothing that evokes these feelings. Partial clothing of the body is far more of a tease - you only have to look at the relevant magazines for examples of that. I always tell people that, if they should come and look at the naked bodies lying around the pool, they would soon find it boring as they are quite inactive and all pretty much alike. People are not behaving competitively nor parading or preening themselves, but are relaxed and at ease with each other. Remind people that this is how it is at any naturist beach or swim. If they want a bit more activity, then promote Nudefest2008 or the Alton Towers weekends! Ensure they realise naturism covers all ages and interests, including sports for which they need only join BN and a whole new world is open to them! A lot of people don`t realise that naturism can be so much more than merely removing one’s clothes!
Be prepared for people to say they couldn’t do this because they are overweight, unattractive, have scars, cellulite or whatever else they can think of to blame. Be ready to explain that they are not too overweight, or anything else, as naturism is accepting of all shapes and sizes. Be careful you don’t sound like you are agreeing with them on this one, merely explaining that whatever they are, and however they feel, they are perfectly able to participate and will not be judged. Whilst reminding them that naturism is about body acceptance and not body beautiful, be careful you do not imply they are not! Show them your copy of BN or direct them to the website to prove we are just everyday normal people and not all super-model types. Try to convey the confidence boost we can feel simply by finding the strength to shed our clothes and inhibitions, and the feel-good factor it brings with it. I try to explain the feeling by relating it to the wondrous relief we get when kicking off a pair of shoes after a long, hard day, but you get this feeling all over when you shed your clothes!
Have a reply ready for when people ask why you are a naturist, so that it sounds spontaneous but truthful. Think hard - why do you do this? The simple answer I give is that it feels nice. I remind people that I do it to feel good - not to be seen, not to upset or shock, not to push the boundaries of the law, not to demand my rights as a citizen, simply because it feels nice. I then go on to explain why I attend a club to do this. I know it isn’t against the law to be naked in public (and it is always worth stating that), but I still prefer to be somewhere I feel comfortable and safe in the knowledge that no one is going to be upset. Personally, I think I gain respect by saying I don’t wish to cause offence. I don’t want to provoke a confrontation and, whether we like it or not, the majority of the public are just not ready for us - yet! Let’s get them used to our being naked in certain places first, take away the shock aspect of it and educate them that we are just ordinary people. If we show them respect by doing this in recognised places, be it clubs, allocated beaches or private gardens, they will show us respect in return. With a gradual approach we might soon be able to openly sunbathe nude in public parks as they do on the continent. First, we need to take away the fear people have of us because, let’s face it, their reaction is usually down to being afraid - what other reason is there for them to object to seeing a body without clothes? Personally, I would be much more afraid of encountering a masked man, a “hoodie”, or other threatening-looking person in a lonely spot, than a naked man!
Whatever your long-term views, we must wean the public on to naturism gradually so that they accept it. If we try to do too much too quickly, they will not want to listen but will vote against it every time. As the Ashanti people in Ghana told Baden-Powell, “Softly, softly catchee monkey!”