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  • Andrew Welch
    Andrew Welch

    Lili's perspective on Naturism and body image

    Today, thousands of young people are pushing back against a society that tells them how they need to look and act to be accepted, with little regard for their own opinions.  One of the main culprits is social media, which tells us that we must be slender and toned, and that our own bodies must never be exposed, under any circumstances. In this article, Lili Thorpe talks about her own perspective on body image, and how her recent introduction to Naturism has opened her eyes to a better way to live.

    I make my living as a life model for drawing classes and photographers, meaning that I am well accustomed to nudity, but also very familiar with how cruel and judgmental people can be.  I would describe my appearance as average; average weight, average height, the sort of person who blends into the crowd.  Like everybody, there are a few things about my appearance I believe could be better, but I’m fairly happy with how I look and strongly believe that being satisfied with yourself is essential to happiness.  A couple of years ago I was carrying a little more weight and things were not so good.  Many people I worked with told me that I was fat and ugly and should certainly not be working as a model.  At the same time my family was sceptical about my choices, insisting that exposing my body was immoral because our own bodies are somehow wrong.  These were difficult times, I can totally accept if somebody chooses not to pick me as a model because I don’t fit the vision, but the vindictive need of people to shame and insult me and try to destroy my self worth seemed both harsh and pointless.

    I was recently invited to join a naked hike with a group of Naturists with the aim of normalising nudity and promoting respect.  My desire to encourage respect caused me to accept, but the prospect also caused my demons to resurface.  Would I be judged for how I looked?  More importantly, as I am not a Naturist and was meeting a group of strangers, would I be excluded because I was not part of “the club”?  The prospect of walking around naked was also daunting; although much of my work involves nudity, I don’t live naked even around my own home.  Finally, like most people in my line of work, I have experienced my share of salacious behaviour; often comments, but occasionally men who assume it is acceptable to touch me because I am modelling nude .  Would the fact that I was joining a group of naked people, many of them men, mean that I was putting myself in danger?

    The simple answer to those questions was “No”.  The group comprised 20 people, both men and women, ranging from their 20s to their 60s. They casually stripped for the walk as they arrived, and didn’t seem to notice whether or not I was naked.  They had clearly found a peace in themselves and with their bodies that I was still struggling to reach, as the nudity seemed entirely incidental to them.  Perhaps more importantly, they were welcoming.  People introduced themselves as and when I met them, and asked a bit about me, meaning that I felt they were very happy to have me join the group without making me feel like the strange newcomer to be stared at.  This to me was the most remarkable and unexpected aspect of the experience.  The fact people had removed their clothes also seemed to mean that they had removed any judgements, insecurities and barriers to interacting with others.  Without clothes and accessories to indicate status, we were just a bunch of people.  I found that people spoke more positively and freely than I have encountered in a new clothed environment.  It was also clear that people’s bodies were different and that it really doesn’t matter.  This is the self-respect and immediate acceptance of others that I crave for.

    The walk itself was fun, it was a glorious sunny day in a beautiful woodland setting, but ultimately it was the people that made the difference.  I was asked whether I would encourage other people to try naturism and social nudity, and I certainly would.  Although being free and naked was itself enjoyable, it was the fact that my eyes were opened to how superficial we can be in much of our lives.  Nakedness made me realise how unimportant our looks are, how much potential there is to interact with the people we meet and, perhaps most important, how much better we feel when we stop comparing ourselves to others.  Even better, it made me realise how much better we feel when we receive respect from others and have the freedom to be ourselves, rather than trying to match a stereotype.  I would strongly encourage people to at least try being naked, as even this single experience has affected my outlook on the world in an entirely positive way.  Maybe the secret to achieving happiness is to accept ourselves as we are and respect each other as equals.

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    Edited by Andrew Welch

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    peter_marilyn

    Posted

    Excellent article. Thanks for sharing Lili. Nothing to beat a naked ramble on a fine day (except maybe on Studland beach :))

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    peter_paula

    Posted

    That's really lovely. Didn't realise Lili was a newbie; so relaxed, chatting with everybody :)

    Paula

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    Splendid, luminous piece of writing! Many thanks Lily for sharing your vivid impressions and sincere thoughts with all of us :) 

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    Tiffpickford

    Posted

    Everyone should get out there and get naked in a responsible manner and normalise nudity. 

    One thing that I’ve learnt since being a naturist is the fact that naturist  are not judgemental and are a lot more open minded.

    We live in this society of the perfect body being portrayed as a Barbie and Ken, Posh and Becks type which is something that’s unattainable for the everyday person. Beauty comes from within and that is expressed more so when we are naked and nothing to hide.

    Be free, be proud of who you are and most of all be naked

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    Westsussex

    Posted

    Excellent article Lilli - so pleased that you enjoyed the hike

    Hopefully you have found how normal, comfortable and relaxed life can be as a naturist

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    BLauritson

    Posted

    A very well-written and encouraging article, which shows precisely why naturism is a positive and healthy pursuit for both body and mind.

    The first time of doing naturism can be daunting for anyone, regardless of whether it's a solo trip to a nudist beach or an organised event like this one, but as with many things in life it's the thought and not the actuality that's most terrifying.

    It's amazing how quickly the nerves can dissipate when you're there and I echo what you say about how removing clothes removes barriers - my first time of social naturism (as opposed to being on my own in a naturist venue) was at NKD Festival earlier this year and I was pleasantly astonished at how quickly everybody bonded, which I'm certain was in large part due to the lack of clothing and therefore lack of perceived barriers between us.

    All in all, a great article which is positively thought-provoking and a pleasure to read. Thank you for taking the time to write it and I hope it encourages you and indeed others to attend more of these events.

    P.S. Speaking of NKD, I'd like to give a shout out to Maz and Kieran whom I recognise in some of these photos, having first met at said festival :)

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    Fantastic article Lili, people who read this must surely take away something positive about naturism and hopefully it may inspire some folk to give it a try.

    I have always felt that there must be many people who would secretly love to shed their clothes and enjoy the sheer freedom both mentally and physically of being naked outdoors; all they need is a nudge in the right direction.

    Thank you so much for writing this article 👍👍😀

     

     

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