I’m wondering if I’m a hypocrite, with all this naturism.
I’ve just never been all that natural. I’ve never wanted to be. I see unnatural-ness as a privilege. So much that I take for granted results from my life in a highly developed country with astonishing medical and other facilities. Cutting edge tech is our way of life. Abundant resources of many kinds surround us. Such lifestyles have never existed in history before – and none of it’s one bit natural.
I’d like us to go Greener, I really would. (Care for the environment, reduce the behaviours that lead to climate change and global warming – all of that). But I know why most of us don’t. Seriously living Green means sacrifice. It means choosing not to be quite so privileged any more – travelling less, consuming less, demanding less. Good luck with selling us that.
Yet here I am, calling myself a naturist. Naturism was defined in 1974 by the International Naturist Federation as ‘… a way of life in harmony with nature, characterised by the practise of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment’.
Does two out of three respects just make me a great big phoney?
My worry began with a photo: it’s me, on the lawn of my naturist club. From the neck down, I couldn’t be looking more natural. Up top, though, I’m still in the office – make-up, and straightened hair. It’s ever so strange – like a photo with two people present, trying to live in one body but arguing over how to do things.
Many naturists do indeed seek, as the INF says, to live in harmony with the natural world. Some do yoga, avoid meat, meditate… they follow a range of lifestyle choices as diverse as they are. Respecting the earth is a vital part of their life, and their choice of communal nudity central to it. I’ve met quite a few of them now, and I’ve also felt (it’s weirdly embarrassing to admit this, but it’s true) the stirring of such ideas in me.
But three steps forward and two steps back: I have it – and then in a moment I lose it again. Doubt steals in, because what’s all this? After all, I’m well grown-up: I have teenage children. Shouldn’t I know who I am by now?
Still, it all creeps back in the next naked moment:the tingling morning walk on the frosted grass. Swimming unclothed in unbroken immersion that feels like being born must feel, if only we could remember. Although I am not, and I never have been, a natural woman, I respond to these things.
Therefore, if I’m out of balance, a taker from the planet – I should try to do something about it. The food I eat. The things I buy and use. The way I live. If I’m going to respect the Earth and be more at one with it, this all needs to be examined.
It’s bloody uncomfortable – even a little scary. Nature-respecting choices feel big and complicated. Perhaps for a New Year – a new way of doing things. Maybe, in 2017, I’ll try to take naked and natural baby steps, one after the other.
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