This post is part of the series Does my bum look big in skin?
Other posts in this series:
- Does my bum look big in skin? (Current)
- Does my bum look big in skin? – A cold wind blowing
- lewd & rude naturists sell nudespapers – does my bum look big in skin? (3)
A naked couple at a naturist club. Properly old – I’d say well on in their 70s: she’s unsteady on her feet but he’s the elder. My first thought is: why have they come? There are too many steps here, the slope of the club lawn is too steep to be managed safely. I watch as he carefully helps her along the path and into a chair. It takes so, so long: the people round the pool’s edge stand back as she wobbles past. I think a few arms are braced to catch her too, though he never leaves her side. If she falls against him, they’ll both go down.
As I watch her I want to be like her, naked and old, and in our youth-obsessed, image-drenched culture that’s something like speaking blasphemy. I’m wishing for trust in the world like the trust she has – the courage that lets her be vulnerable.
How did I get here anyway? I visited a naturist club for the first time in May 2016. I’d read other first-timer descriptions and mine was like that too: nerves at the start, then amazement. So quickly there’s ordinariness in the absence of clothes. How peaceful I found it. The opposite of objectified.
I wrote a piece for the local paper I work for, about how the honesty and unpretentiousness I saw in naturism might transform our lives. I played it for laughs – naked-politics-so-what-about-that? – and imagined the locally-voted notables all in the wobbly buff, trying to look self-important without the trappings of power. Without any trappings at all.
Except that for me, there was more. I couldn’t have written the ‘more’ back in May. I feel as though I joined the underground. There’s a revolution on, but not everyone’s noticed yet. It’s exciting.
Because naturists don’t so much break the rules as shake them to shivering splinters all over the ceiling and walls, like my toddler son the day he inexplicably decided to pound all hell out of a bowl of jelly. This thing turns the world as upside-down as that jelly ever was. Social nudity, nudism, clothes-free living – call it what you will… is a wrecking ball.
How so? And why? Because it’s a place of being, not of doing. Brought up to compete, to focus on the exam, the resume, the pecking order, the stand-out-from-the-crowd achievement – to cease all of this and to let yourself be is an act of resistance. And trained from our earliest years in illusion, to be just as you are and to be OK is drastically defiant. Does my bum look big in skin?
Once you start down this road to reality: where will it go? Naturism’s a lodestone. How bare do you dare? Like your mother’s face hidden in yours, revealed in your ageing, naturism draws out the DNA.
A clothes-free world is also so far beyond sex that the sex-words don’t work any more. I’ve noticed this can push us into sounding apologetic: ‘Naturism’s not porn! We’ll block you if you follow porn! Genuine family naturist site!’ What we’ve got is so powerful that we struggle to express it. It’s a take-down of creeds and customs built on physical shame; notions of what men will do to women given any chance at all stumble. Turns out we can be more than genders – we can be humans.
Revealing everything, there are things that a clothes-free world conceals. Here, clues to status and wealth go missing: it’s terra incognito, or at least terra unlabelled. There’s simplicity: I find I instinctively remove jewellery even when I don’t have to. But if nakedness really caught on, things would get complicated all right: we’d spend a whole lot less money and get several sizes happier. This is not what the financial markets have in mind for us. Beyond a doubt – they’d close the whole thing down.
From my very first time, I’ve received from naturism a radical kindness. In a world which assumes mistrust, where the getting of one up on others before they get one up on you is taken for granted, its absence of one-upping is remarkable. It’s new skin to live in – a good and peaceful place to be. I’m happy I found it.
Continue reading this series:
Does my bum look big in skin? – A cold wind blowing