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    Never judge a book by its cover!

    Self-confidence gives you power: a feeling of being able to cope with whatever life throws at you. Many a Naturist would agree that social nudity has helped them achieve that, but why is this? Most of us have been brought up with nudity being something very private, so do we feel empowered because we’ve overcome this taboo? Naturism is about Body Confidence and Body Acceptance. We might not all be Body Beautiful but then that isn’t what Naturism is about; it’s about the Feel Good Factor. That’s the reason we do it; it feels good and it does us good too. Oh the times I explain what Naturism is all about and having painted a pretty picture of it being so beneficial and relaxing, it ‘s acknowledged with a wistful “Oh I wish I could do that!” and of course I respond with a “Well, you can!” only to be told, “Oh no I couldn’t, I’m too fat; got cellulite; wobbly bits; put on weight since having children; not exactly got a six pack; don’t want to be compared and who’d want to look at me?! Excuses, excuses! There is nothing stopping you, except yourself. I had a reluctant start when I met my husband who was already a member of Blackthorns as I vowed never to go there and told him not to even ask me! What happened? Well after deciding it unfair not to even try it I found myself, four months into membership, volunteering to be Public Relations Officer! I remember thinking at the time, “Well if I’m doing it, so can everyone else, particularly the hesitant ones as I know how that feels!” One of the things I ask people is whether they watched the very popular Gok Wan on TV with his “How to Look Good Naked” campaign. With his support, the ladies who hated their bodies learned to love them and ended with a naked photo shoot and they all said how liberating it felt, that it was a huge confidence boost and were very pleased they did it! These ladies still had the same bodies but dealt with the issues they had created in their heads. There were men too: women don’t have a monopoly on feeling shy and inferior. This is what Naturism does for you: it gives you body confidence. You might well want to make changes but, meanwhile, you learn to accept your body for what it is, or else your life would be on hold. The Naturist community seems to be naturally accepting of everyone, whatever problems they think they have with their bodies. Their support, if you let them, will help you feel valued and strong.
    Look through the BN magazines and take note of the different ages, shapes and sizes of the people. Not every lady is a catwalk beauty and not every man is an Adonis but hey, remember this, we are all special to someone and we are real people! We are not airbrushed in the magazine nor in real life, yet we have the confidence to bare all in front of others, so how do we do it? My best answer is to tell you not to believe me but to go along to a Naturist swim or club. Once you look around at everyone you will be pleasantly surprised how well you’ll fit in and not be the odd one out! There is no criteria to qualify you for Naturism except the desire to do so. I even get prospective members worrying about turning up at the club for the first time and having lily-white skin compared to the seasoned Naturist and I’m quick to point out that, whilst most Naturists are sun lovers, it’s not just about getting an all over tan. You are quite welcome to sit in the shade; it’s the feeling of nakedness that is important, not the sun bathing. So if you are red haired and burn easily you no longer have an excuse! Even when we decide to give Naturism a try it can still be difficult to make that final commitment and be naked with other people. But why is that; do we still have it in our heads that it’s rude? Well, you arrived naked and were immediately loved by your parents and described as the most beautiful baby ever born so where does it go wrong? When do we develop the fear of going naked because it is a fear for some. Pre Victorian times saw land workers harvesting their crops naked and washing together in a stream, keeping their clothes clean and their Sunday best for just that, the Sunday church service. We tend to blame Victoria but I don’t think it was all her doing, but things did change and it has been passed down through the years. Even my step-daughter whilst letting her baby enjoy a few moments of kicking and wriggling on the changing mat without the restriction of a nappy, ended it by saying, quite sweetly, that it was rude to be nude and time to be dressed. She knows her Dad and I are Naturists and thinks nothing of it for us, so why did she still insist to her baby that it was wrong? It’s so inbuilt that I don’t think people are even aware they’re doing it! Fortunately young children don’t think this way at all and, if left to their own devices, think nothing of undressing when hot or uncomfortable and when they come to the club, even on their first visit, they can’t wait to be free of clothing. They all love to use the pool and think nothing of doing so naked. They don’t question why everyone Never judge a book by its cover! Roni Fine explains why Naturism boosts your confidence and acceptance of others
    is undressed, they just get on with it. Yet, if that child never experienced the Naturist lifestyle they would grow up thinking that nudity is utterly private and rude. The media is often blamed for turning children into bulimic and anorexic sufferers and I agree; it gives unrealistic goals to achieve, especially as the photos they pore over are so often airbrushed to create a certain body shape. There is a big difference between wearing excessive makeup for enhancement to having their thighs slimmed, their legs lengthened and their waists reduced to unobtainable perceived perfection. It’s a shame that young people seem to have a built in craving to be like someone else rather than be content with who they are. We try to nurture our Naturist children to have an open outlook on life and what it deals us, appreciate what they are and feel good about themselves and I believe it works. I spoke to our younger members who had been involved in Naturism for some years before hitting puberty and though it caused some to cover up a little more for a while, the teenagers told me it had helped them understand and accept body changes and issues and they felt at ease and able to discuss things with each other and between both sexes and overall they were glad to have Naturism help them through what can be a turbulent time. It is far easier than being given a book with diagrams and expected not to talk about it outside the school Biology lesson! Naturists see naked people and accept each one as a whole person. We don’t concentrate on “irregularities”, probably because we all have them in some form and what’s the point of letting them rule our lives? So I have cellulite, big deal! It only affects me if I let it and I see no reason whatsoever why it should affect you!
    I remember a man who had lost his leg in a motor bike crash joining our club, and he’d received many rude comments, at a public swimming pool and on beaches, before he realised Naturists wouldn’t be so cruel. He removed his leg to use our pool on that first visit, knowing he’d not be judged. The only comment came from a little girl who said, “look Daddy, that man has left his leg beside the pool.” With no effort involved she was learning about people’s bodies being different and accepting those differences. She wasn’t shocked to see a man with one leg but intrigued to see him leaving it on the poolside and she didn’t comment on his nakedness as she already accepted that as normal! Of course we were interested with how he’d lost it but it was in a concerned way, not an abusive one. A great example of body acceptance is an incident which I love to quote; within a Naturist club, a man met a lady he’d not seen for some time and had quite a chat with her and it was only later when her recent mastectomy was mentioned by someone else that he declared he hadn’t even noticed she had just one breast! You see, he was speaking to her, not her body. We have ladies who seem to be “perfect”; tall, slim and attractive, so what do they know about body issues? A lot actually, as no one ever seems to be totally content with themselves but whilst we strive to be “perfect” in our heads as well as in other people’s eyes, we get on with living and not let it rule our thoughts or actions. And men are included in this body image worry as they too can be hesitant about baring all and being judged on size and six packs! Once again, when they look round and see the comparisons they realise they are just another body and no better nor worse than the next man. People worry about being seen changing from clothes to swimwear on the beach or in shop changing rooms and it’s so unnecessary. Oh how much easier it is for me since gaining my Naturist confidence, to try on clothes and attend for an X ray and mammogram without stressing out that someone will see part of my body. Nudity is widely used in advertising because it is still unexpected but it should help people get used to the fact that we are all naked underneath, so why are so many so scared to see someone else? Think about it. Isn’t it quite ludicrous to be afraid of ourselves? You might believe Adam and Eve covered their bodies with fig leaves for modesty but why was there a need? It really hasn’t helped generations ever since! Covering our bodies for warmth and protection makes complete sense and even Naturists accept this and adapt and of course we do appreciate that not all members of the Great British Public are ready to see us naked, so we cover up when necessary, but it’s for THEIR modesty, not ours! So if you are still pondering about becoming a Naturist, remember you are one already; it’s just that you are currently a Naturist with clothes on, so take the next step and remove that top layer whenever it’s warm enough and appropriate to do so! Then when you are ready to bare all and share the experience with like minded people, do so with pride. Enjoy the confidence it gives you and become one of the crowd that cares more about the proverbial book inside, than the cover!

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