Roni Fine gives a beginner’s guide to naturism
So you’ve decided to become a naturist, now what? Is it that simple - you take your clothes off and that’s it? Well, yes, in principle that’s all you need to do, but there is a whole lot more out there to make naturism an enjoyable way of life.
To be reading this you have obviously got as far as joining BN, or know someone who has, and that is a good way of sourcing information. You can find details of clubs and swims, days out and holiday destinations. Next, you decide to head off to one of these places, but what does this involve? Do you just turn up? What is expected of you? If I had to write a naturist law, I would say, “Do not do anything to upset or offend another person.” But isn’t that a good rule for any community?
There is social etiquette, as in any way of life, but first of all, relax! Naturism is all about the feel good factor, so don’t get stressed out worrying how you are to do it! Just be yourself, only, when it is warm enough, remove your clothes. It is as simple as that - well, okay, there might be a few unwritten rules
It can seem a little daunting to undress in front of perfect strangers – and if it is your first time, no one is going to force you until you are ready - take your time and feel comfortable. Once you are with a group of naked people, you often feel the odd one out if dressed. Once you strip off, you feel one of the crowd and it feels completely normal! You can generally choose where to undress - not necessarily with an audience! It is best to choose clothing that is easy to deal with, so as not to attract attention to yourself - something simple that pulls off and on with little effort. T-shirt and shorts for the men. A simple sun-dress for the ladies. Women often feel very exposed when first going naked, so it can be a good idea to wear a sarong. You can very simply loosen and drop the sarong as you sit down and tie it again as you get up, without drawing attention to yourself. You will soon be able to get up and walk without even thinking of replacing it.
Don’t worry that you will no longer have the need to buy a new dress – sorry, gentlemen, but when your lady says she has nothing to wear, she isn’t joking! Naturist venues mainly involve evening socials to be clothed events, as handling food or each other on the dance floor is generally considered to be best carried out fully clothed.
You might well be wondering where to look and thinking it will be embarrassing to be close to other people when undressed. Don’t fret - it will be easier than you imagine. There is far more eye contact between naturists and perhaps this concentrates the mind on the conversation, as it is often said how friendly and approachable naturists are. It is obvious etiquette not to stare at people, but as always, “Do unto others as you wish to be done by” stands fast.
The biggest fear of taking part as a naturist is usually the person’s own lack of self-esteem. They think their body is not good enough to be seen. Am I right? Is that what you have been thinking? That it is all right for those who are slim, trim and toned, beautifully tanned and attractive? Well, think again! Naturists are not that small a section of the population, we are a whole cross-section of all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds and of all ages: a thoroughly mixed bunch of people, so yes, you too can be a naturist! Do not worry that you have a body problem that might stop you from being unclothed, as the naturist community is the one place that is totally accepting and you will not find prejudice or ridicule. I have witnessed this and been told directly by people with artificial limbs, mastectomies, cellulite and scars.
What I hear time and again is that naturism is a great leveller, by which people mean that once the clothing identity is removed, we see the real person and take more notice of their true self - their attitude, their intelligence, their friendliness, their sense of humour and their feelings. Gone is the need to dress to impress and hide behind a false persona.
People often worry about the effect naturism has on children, but it is the children who love to be free of clothing and it is only the grown-ups who finally make them feel ashamed of their bodies. By raising children in a naturist community you will be raising them with fewer hang-ups and greater understanding of their peers.
And no white bits! What could possibly persuade you to be a naturist more than having no white bits?! Bodies look best when they have an all-over colour! But don’t worry if you are a redhead and burn easily - naturism isn’t just about getting a suntan, it is about being natural and feeling good, and you can do that in the shade, too!
Many men are genuinely worried that they might suffer a natural reaction to an attractive female, but they soon appreciate that we are dealing with non-sexual nudity and it is the addition of clothing that adds the sexual connotation. Having said that, it is a good idea to carry a towel. It can be held in front of your body if you feel rather exposed, and it also provides you with something to do with your hands when standing around, initially feeling very much on show. You will soon feel totally at ease and just drape it over your arm or shoulder. Of course, it is a compulsory accessory for every naturist as it is etiquette, for obvious reasons, to sit on your own towel when using communal seating.
Ladies, you might wonder what to do when you have a period and the answer is simple – wear whatever is comfortable for you. Of course, it would soon be noticed in most clubs if you never uncovered, as the majority are not clothes- optional. You do need to have the intention to be naturist whenever possible. This leads to another frequently asked question: “What do you do when it gets cold?” The answer to this is more obvious than people imagine: we get dressed! It is strange how people still think naturists remain naked whatever the weather, and I always explain that we are naturists, not masochists! What you will find is that you need to carry something warm but easy to slip on, as the temperature in this country changes, like the…er…weather!
There are many jokes about what to do with your money and keys, as you have no pockets, and there are no prizes for realising that the female half of a couple always ends up with everything in her handbag – but isn’t that always the case, anywhere? It goes almost without saying that cooking, especially barbecueing, is best done wearing an apron, if only to dispel those silly jokes about cooking the wrong sausage, but also to protect oneself from spitting fat!
Body piercings and tattoos are often a cause for concern. I have never heard of objections to tattoos - just the occasional cringe at the thought of the pain involved in obtaining them! I believe nipple jewellery is generally accepted, but some clubs frown on genital piercings, especially if they are not discreet, so it might be wise to make enquiries before turning up fully adorned.
Naturism can mean different things to different people and you need to decide what the right path is for you. Some people are happy to throw off their clothes when home alone or in the privacy of their own secluded garden (lucky things!), and this is enough for them, but others want to be part of a community and use naturism to meet like-minded individuals. This can open up a whole new world to you, full of new friends and activities linking you with people all over the country, indeed, the world.
For some, naturism is more of an outdoor pastime and they find somewhere to walk off the beaten track. You need to carry some instant clothing to ensure a quick cover-up, but the worry of meeting someone who objects does rather spoil the tranquillity of the moment. Hence people visit beaches that have been set aside, although some involve a hike to reach them, so you must be fit! However nice these designated beaches are, the other problem I must warn you of is that they are still public and there is the chance of people attending for the wrong reason. I am, of course, referring to the presence of ‘meerkats’. If you have ever watched a nature programme about these animals, you will instantly recognise the similarity between them and the rogue males who bob up and down in the sand-dunes to view naked bodies. When behaviour gets beyond that which can be ignored it needs reporting. Regrettably, naturists are loath to do this for fear of local people and council officials using these incidents to close these beaches to them. We don’t want these people polluting our beaches either, so please report them to the police or get advice from BN. Please don’t think all single males are prone to this behaviour - it is a minority group. There is safety in numbers, so place yourself near others and you will find true naturists are a friendly group and that it is easy to engage in conversation. You will soon have someone to watch over your belongings whilst you wander down to the water’s edge.
If a trip to the beach is too far to be worthwhile as the weather might have changed before you get there, then a club is your best bet. You might not have the waves lapping and the sand under your feet, but you will find yourself in a friendly, relaxed, comfortable and safe atmosphere. Does that sound like I am biased towards clubs? Well, maybe I am, because I love what I have at Blackthorns and I don’t deny it! But I also love to visit the Welsh Morfa Dyffryn beach. I will put up with the slight possibility of ‘meerkats’ for the beauty of the sea and sand and if I lived closer, I would be there every weekend. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, by joining a club you are instantly in a safe, secluded environment where everyone is there for the right purpose and this creates a relaxed atmosphere, enabling you to get on with feeling good! Most clubs consist of a pool and sunbathing lawns and a good social scene, with dances and gatherings as well as sporting facilities, which can be for fun or competition. By belonging to CCBN you can join teams and compete against other clubs.
A lot of people discover naturism when holidaying abroad and finding themselves on a naturist beach by accident - or so they say! Perhaps it is their way of trying it out without admitting that it has been their lifelong wish!
There are a growing number of classy holiday destinations for naturists, whether at naturist hotels, near naturist beaches or at a proper naturist complex where you can literally remain undressed day and night for the whole of your stay, whether on the beach, at the bar, in the restaurant or at the supermarket. There is a whole world of naturism to discover out there.
Well, there you are - all set to face the naturist population with pride and confidence. Now I must dash out and buy a new towel as I have just realised that I haven`t any to go with my new red shoes. Oh, and I need a red hat, too…or should I get purple? Oh dear! I just have NOTHING to wear!