This post is part of the series Does my bum look big in skin?
Other posts in this series:
- Posh spa? No thanks – I’m a naturist – Does my bum look big in skin? 
- Does my bum look big in skin:  My imaginary breasts
- You’d make a great naturist! Does my bum look big in skin?  (Current)
- Are naturists naive? – Does my bum look big in skin? 
Tell people you’re a naturist and most times I’ve noticed they’ll smirk. A smirk is a sort of a smile – and a smile is a nice thing – but something not so nice lurks round the edges.
So I mostly don’t tell. It feels furtive, and I don’t like that. But best to say nothing: I’ve still got a lot to learn. I don’t have my thoughts on the subject in order. I’m wary of reactions, nervous of starting the conversation. To be honest, I’m even a little afraid. Recently, though, I mentioned it over coffee with a friend, and straightaway she said: ‘‘Oh – you’d make a great naturist!’
So I thought – hey thanks, that’s nice. Then she hesitated. I watched her mentally play back the words she’d spoken. It took several seconds. She smiled and frowned both at once.
‘That was just so inappropriate!’ And she told me she was sorry. Why apologise? What did she think she’d said? Was she imagining me naked? Did she think I’d mind? Was there some kind of sexual overtone? Does it matter?
Oh – wait. She’d just accused me of being slutty, hadn’t she?
What she meant was (and not saying this to blame her): ‘Naturism’s sexy, right? We all know it’s free T & A – take off your kit and you’re easy. And frankly, girl, you seem that way to me’. Then – because she’s considerate and lovely – she was afraid I’d be upset.
I wasn’t. If I had a beef, it was with the sexed-up naturists thing. Not that again.
Just being realistic, there are, of course, sexed-up naturists. I’ve no problem with them: live and let live. My problem is with what they call themselves. Their idea of naturism is different to mine.
The difference surfaced at my club a while back: we were joined by a optimistic pair of swingers on a mission to get it on with other couples. Swooping in the sauna was – allegedly – their speciality (though their tale might have grown in the telling). But the rest of us go in there for a bit of a chat, not for overcrowded erotic encounters. Our lack of steaminess disappointed them: they quit.
‘Exhibitionism’ is the other accusation. You’re all just showing off. I haven’t found it to be true. Concealment is so much the norm that we don’t think about what it means: we consider nudity to be the statement. And of course – in that it breaks a taboo – nudity certainly is.
But the clamour of clothing is incessant. Wealth, class, status, tribal and cultural allegiance, fashionable-ness – or disdain for fashion – all of it’s signalled by dress. There’s nothing wrong with that, or in making a personal statement with what you wear. Just don’t accuse naturists of having a lot to say about ourselves. Strangely and ever so sweetly, naturism is modest. I am like you and you are like me, it says. We’re all unique, yet we’re utterly not.
My friend’s got me wondering now: so what else makes a great naturist?
I’ve seen depths of physical peace in naturism which are almost a meditation, but I think it takes time. Most people aren’t so evolved; we still have our hang-ups. You could probably guess what those are for each one of us: taking off all of your clothes gives others the highest levels of personal security clearance in seconds. That’s why it’s risky: you need to accept that. So being ok with risk is something all naturists have in common.
That, and a dose of radicalism: this stuff’s about breaking the rules. (It’s what I love best: fomenting rebellion in the English countryside). Naturism’s about being an idealist, too: it chooses to believe in the best of us, not in the worst.
Then comes the workaday stuff: the qualities like ‘sensible’ and ‘kind’. They’re radical too, in their way: imagine a news bulletin from a world where kindness and good sense governed us. There’s our practicality: no naturist expects a size zero, the perfect 10, the eight-pack. Porn star proportions are rarities; women with elfin-framed bodies don’t have pneumatic breasts. Noise and nonsense, that is.
And all this is why I like naturists so. I like them, respect them, and want to belong with them. No two ways about it – theirs is a wiser world. So my friend in the coffee shop paid me one heck of a compliment. I might even give her this to read, to say thank-you. ‘You’d make a great naturist!’ she said. I’d like to think that I do.
Continue reading this series:
Are naturists naive? – Does my bum look big in skin?