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There is another way to boost body-shape confidence

Date

Louise Wedgwood

While about 5 million Australians are pursuing their annual weight loss resolution, the naturist community boosts body confidence by accepting all shapes and sizes.

"Judy" and "Lisa", and two of their friends.

"Judy" and "Lisa", and two of their friends. Photo: Supplied

How are you going with your New Year's resolution to shape up – ready to hang out nude at the next pool party? While some Australians continue to chase happiness through competitive skinniness, with selfies of their thigh gap and bikini bridge the ultimate achievement, others have found freedom and acceptance by baring it all. Shed your hang-ups about your body with your clothes when you take a leaf out of the naturists' book. Sarah Scriven is editor of the naturist magazine Australian Sun and Health and thinks getting around in the buff is no big deal. "As far as I'm concerned we're all naturists, even if it's only for five minutes alone in the shower.

"Most people would agree that wearing clothes in the shower is absurd. I'd suggest the idea that I have to get dressed when I get out is equally absurd. So why should I?" she says. While Sarah's view might be unusual, it is not unique. The Australian Naturist Federation is for people passionate about "living naturally, respecting nature – and accepting all other humans, in whatever way, shape or form." And they do so naked. It is about personal freedom, not sex; naturists are adamant that mainstream media have brainwashed us into believing nudity and sexuality always go together.

To be honest, most of the glossy, full-frontal photos in Scriven's magazine would arouse only the interest of a cosmetic surgeon looking for tummy tuck and liposuction candidates.

They feature real people (not models) relaxing at the beach or campsite without clothes. And more than 60 per cent of naturists are married or in a committed relationship.

Scriven says they are "normal people doing normal things just without the hang-ups of body image and without clothes where it's appropriate." Judy Wilson* describes herself as one of the most incorrect" body types to go about naked, yet she would rather go to a nudist beach than find a swimming costume to wear to a beach where clothes are required. She says people often make assumptions about you based on your appearance but at a nudist beach, "no one judges you. No one has clothes, make-up or jewellery and you're starting from a blank canvas. So people have to talk to you to get to know you." One of Judy's friends, Lisa Brooks*, takes naturist holidays. At first, she says, she was quite nervous. "It was a big step for me to take." She now regains her body confidence with each holiday.

"It's really nice being with a group of people, in particular with a group of women, who accept you the way you are, with your lumps and bumps and everything else. It's quite liberating and very confidence boosting. If people can accept you regardless of how you look, that's a big deal for most women."

Lisa's husband Paul can testify to naturism's uplifting effects. "I'm amazed at the transformation my wife undergoes every time we have a naturist holiday, where everyone is equal. She becomes more relaxed, less stressed, and increasingly confident."

He points out that naturism places a high value on health, and many of their naturist friends focus on being healthy instead of pressuring each other to look a certain way.

Acceptance among naturists of bodily diversity extends to pubic hair. There is mainstream debate about whether the bush is back, or hairlessness is here to stay. But you'll find all styles at a clothes-free beach.

Judy says while some naturists make an effort and others are very natural, anyone who grooms their pubic hair does it for themselves, not to impress.

Scriven agrees: "People don't become naturists to show off how good they look. And it wouldn't work anyway because very few naturists will care. That's the point."

So don't count on naturists to help send your "thinspiration" selfies viral.

Judy offers reassurance that "we're quite normal people", yet she's not "normal" enough to make a weight-loss resolution.

Instead, she wants to travel more, while cutting back on washing (get it?).

Her friend Lisa doesn't even have a New Year's resolution. "I don't normally set New Year's resolutions. I'm usually just happy with life in general."

*Names changed for privacy.

16 comments

  • We have friends who are committed naturalists and my partner and I go to a nude beach with them a couple of times a year. Each time we thoroughly enjoy ourselves and commit to go more often which alas we never seem to do.

    I find the preparedness of people to bare all despite not having what would be considered a perfect body extremely refreshing. The fact that they are comfortable with their bodies, flaws and all, is something to be admired.

    You see all shapes and sizes in all their glory and it doesn't take long for the nakedness to become something easily disregarded.

    I think those who obsessively diet and work out to obtain their idea of a perfect body would be afraid of others seeing their imagined flaws, so you tend to find an older crowd who have accepted what they have and aren't concerned about what others may think.

    It doesn't take long to realise that while there may be some minor cosmetic differences, the saying that "we are all the same under our clothes"is certainly true

    Commenter
    Sahara
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 17, 2014, 6:22AM
    • Naturalist: Someone like David Attenborough.

      Naturist: "Judy", "Lisa", and your friends.

      Commenter
      John
      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 10:02AM
  • OK...So, I absolutely love to skinny-dip, just not around other people. More power to the naturists!

    Commenter
    All Heart
    Date and time
    January 17, 2014, 7:15AM
    • Sounds good, but my biggest fear would be to get an erection while casually talking to someone. Awkward.

      Commenter
      Syd
      Location
      Sydnaaay
      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 8:28AM
      • Dream on---look at the pics.

        Commenter
        Jane
        Date and time
        January 17, 2014, 8:56AM
      • Especially in church. Hail, Mary, indeed.

        Commenter
        mutt
        Date and time
        January 17, 2014, 9:31AM
      • Syd you'd be surprised how often it doesn't happen despite guys thinking it is always going to happen to them.

        Commenter
        Andrew
        Date and time
        January 17, 2014, 1:06PM
      • for those new to this, there are some 'handy' methods of dealing with that issue prior to arriving at the beach!

        Commenter
        fun in the sun
        Location
        on my towel
        Date and time
        January 17, 2014, 1:06PM
    • I support it - when it is a mixed and all walks of life affair - but I have to admit I was creeped out when seeing 100% older nude men camped in the dunes off the path where a number of young surfer dudes surfed. Again, I have no bias against folks sexual orientation (everyone who loves and is commited to another person deserves to marry) but this behaviour just looked predatory to me.

      Commenter
      Good for you
      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 8:52AM
      • no I think you are biased really.Be honest , if they were older females looking at the younger surfers you wouldnt have called them predatory or been creeped out.

        Commenter
        Lane
        Date and time
        January 17, 2014, 2:16PM

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