Regular readers might recall Roni has previously written about children in naturism to find out if they were happy being naked and what impact they thought it was having on their lives. The answers were all positive and included a gain in confidence and a better understanding of body image, being able to discuss personal matters with each other, with either sex and understand possible pitfalls of growing up. We decided to revisit the subject…
We've recently enjoyed our Family Week at Blackthorns and it was a very special week for our members' children and grandchildren with lots of activities for them and the one thing that always strikes me is the way the group bond so well and work as a team. Where else would young teens help tiny tots play a game or run a race and make allowances for being slower? They bring life to the club and generate fun and laughter for all of us. It's so refreshing to see such camaraderie.I spoke to a young lady of 13 who I first met at Blackthorns with her father when she was 5. I remember her as a confident and friendly little girl who came across as normal as any child her age with clothes on! She explained that in her younger childhood eyes she just knew that naked people were always happy, friendly and in a relaxed setting so she was happy to be there with them. She realises now that she had got to know far more adults than she would have normally. We always describe naturism as providing a common bond and it appears to be true, we become friends with a wide spectrum of people. She told me that because she saw a huge selection of naked bodies she accepted the differences in people without even thinking about it. This has helped her with her own body image and she is not striving to keep up with the “perfect” and often air-brushed images that are portrayed in glossy magazines. Looking back she tells me she took it as normal and was never fazed at seeing her father or anyone else naked and embarrassment, she decided, is all down to how you are brought up. She reminded me that we all have a body underneath our clothes, so why worry about seeing it?!
I asked her what she thinks a “perfect” body looks like and she very wisely told me it doesn’t exist! How many girls her age outside of naturism would answer: Taylor Swift, Rhianna, Beyoncé or someone on TOWIE?! (Please don't ask me who they are!)
Like most children of naturist families, she admits she was only there because it was her father’s choice and not her own but she seems to have thoroughly enjoyed growing up with the pastime. Whilst she has a Naturist friend who is so confident that she would be naked all the time, if she were allowed, she herself is a little more self-conscious whilst going through puberty and not quite so keen to talk about it, though she knows the friends she has told just accept it as part of who she is. When in the school changing rooms she has noticed that she is far more relaxed with her own nudity than most girls her age who are afraid to be seen in any form of undress even with each other and they give themselves a difficult time trying to avoid this. I think we are all aware of those that do the towel dance on the beach; desperately trying to change behind a towel which takes longer and attracts more attention than if they just got on with it!
A 15yr old teenager I spoke to seems to have a similar outlook and when asked what she will remember most about growing up in a naturist environment, she will recall happy times at her club with family and friends by the pool and holidays in sunny Spanish naturist resorts. She says seeing so many naked people has helped her feel at ease with her own skin and accepts there is no "perfect" body: once again a good sensible start to becoming an adult that will keep her grounded. It's refreshing to hear her defending naturism and declaring, “It’s NOT rude or disgusting but sensible, comfortable and natural and the only thing you need to do to your body, rather than surgical procedures, is to keep it healthy”.
This young lady says most of her non-naturist family members may joke a little about naturism but are never nasty. She prefers not to tell all her friends in case they don't understand but the ones who know, treat her no differently. Having grown up in a naturist family she feels sure she will continue with it and even looks ahead to include her future children in this lifestyle. Asked about people thinking it's not safe to have naked children amongst naked adults she confirms our usual statement, that naturism is a non-sexual nudity and she has never had an uncomfortable experience within the naturist community. As she put it: "There is nothing indecent about not wearing clothes; it is behaviour that can be indecent, not whether you wear clothes or not".
Just as adults see the naturism lifestyle as an escape from the trials and tribulations of the outside world, she has found it can be a restful break from schoolwork, especially at exam times.
Of course teenagers tend to drift away because life gets in the way; they have friends and things to do outside of a regular attendance at a club. University might cause them to leave home but they will attend when they can and more often than not they will return as they get older and settled into their own family life. It's always good to welcome them back; attending from choice rather than just being with their parents.
Juliette was brought to our club by her parents as a child and her memories include playing in the sunshine and having lots of sun lotion applied at regular intervals! She doesn't feel her naturist memories are any different to clothed ones as they were all normal to her but she does recall swimming naked was far more comfortable than emerging with a clinging, cold, wet suit! She feels it gave her a closer relationship with her parents than friends had with theirs and puts it down to the complete openness that naturism offers. Her only problems with body image in puberty came from unkind class mates at school but never from her naturist friends. Circumstances drew her away from the club for some time but having become a mother to two little boys, she thought back to her happy times and wants the same for them. She is hoping they gain the same body confidence she did and that it unites them as a family as it did with her own parents. As for putting her children at risk she points out that children are at far greater risk within the general public as club members are known to each other and there are strict rules to follow re photography and generally we look out for one another. Her children have far greater freedom within the relatively safe grounds of a naturist club than in a public park and they have hours of fun in the water that would add up to a huge debt when paying at a public pool! Juliette doesn't mind the children mentioning naturism outside the club and on the one occasion it was mentioned and questioned, the people were impressed with her explanation and might even try it for themselves! Her aim is that the children don't see the nudity as worth reporting on, just the fun they have whilst engaging in naturism.
In my previous article I spoke to two sisters who were attending with their parents and though one has moved out of the area to go to university, she does still attend on occasions but her sister chose to stay when she turned 18 and her two children have known the club as their second home since birth. They get to spend extra time with their grandparents too and close friends within the club become their extended family. A naturist community supplies it all: a family environment for all to enjoy whether you have your own family with you or not. I think naturism might be one of few pastimes that unite the generations with a common bond that all can enjoy in different ways.
Judging from the comments of our teenagers we have nothing to fear for the future of naturism: it's in their very capable, sensible hands as something to do without making a fuss about it. They'll talk about it if people want to hear and encourage them to give it a try but see it as no big deal if they want to or not!
It really is going to become just another pastime that will interest or bore people just like when they talk about football or golf!
A bit like Marmite: they say you either love it or hate it……..but to find out, you have to try it!