That time I tried out Nudism

Yeah, that’s a title to get your attention. And if it’s not obvious from the title, this post is going to talk about some stuff that might be considered Not Safe For Work. Rest assured there will be no pictures of me or anyone else nude.

If you ARE reading this at work, HR would like a word with you.

A Definition of Nudism
Before we begin I want to define what nudism is, just so we’re all on the same page.

‘Nudists’ or ‘Naturists’ (whichever term you prefer) are people who spend time naked, either alone or socially.

That’s it.

It’s not exhibitionism, it’s not sex or sexual. It is a lack of clothes, either partial or completely. Nothing more, nothing less (well I suppose clothes-less).
In a sense, nudists don’t want to be seen nude; because it’s *not about being seen nude*. It’s enjoying the activities you usually do, without wearing all the clothing you usually might elsewhere.

The problem, and the reason I wanted to start this post with a definition, is that people associate nudity with other things, most often the big three of sex, porn or exhibitionism. But that doesn’t make nudity itself bad.

There’s a whole lot of cultural and social aspects to it too, particularly behind the terms used or the reasons why people choose to be naked. I’ve found a post by a pair of professional nudists, Nick and Lins (aka ‘Naked Wonderings‘) who dive into the terms used and explain it much better than I could. Their post can be found here – https://www.nakedwanderings.com/naturism-vs-nudism-its-a-cultural-thing/

Just for the sake of clarity however, while some people might used the terms ‘Nudist/Nudism’ and ‘Naturist/Naturism’ interchangeably, I’m going to stick with ‘Nudist’ or ‘Nudism’ for the rest of this post.

There are even religious arguments for nudity, E.G. ‘Gymnosophy

Where to begin.
My story starts in March of 2019, when I was in a hotel in Liverpool, UK. I was in my hotel room after having got back from the restaurant and put on the TV. The program I ended up stopping on was ‘Naked Beach‘. To quote the website, the basic premise of the show is:

“A psychologist and body image expert help people to love their bodies again by going naked in sunny Greece.” Naked Beach

In it they take a small group of people who have various issues with their bodies and/or self confidence, and help them to come to terms with those issues. Over the course of their stay they do various activities to help them in various ways, culminating at the end of their stay with all the participants going nude together on a beach.

One of the exercises they made the participants do during the week was to spend 20 minutes a day alone in their room, completely naked and looking at themselves in a full length mirror. The idea being that they would acclimatise to the sight of their own naked bodies in the hopes it becomes more normal to them.

Well, I was alone in a hotel room with nowhere to go. I sleep naked anyway, so I decided to get ready for bed early. On that note I have been sleeping naked since my early teens, but never considered that nudism in any way. It’s just a comfort thing. In any case, I stripped off and watched the rest of the episode nude. Actually I spent the rest of the evening nude.

Which begs the question – Why?

Earlier that day I had been at a Ju-Jitsu seminar (that was the reason I was even in a hotel) and it had been exhausting. I thought I was able to keep up and for the first couple of hours did, but I did falter come the afternoon. Even though the seminar finished around 4pm, I was still feeling tired from it hours later. So in my hotel room, I was conscious of my body and the status of my fitness, or lack thereof.

Simply put, I was not comfortable with the way my own body looked. I have never been particularly fit or well built. Able to keep up with most exercises and able to do a lot without issue, but still not the best on the eye. For example and as I’ve said before, I have somewhat of a so-called ‘beer belly’.

I was feeling insecure about the way my body looked, and there I was watching this TV show that was advocating the idea that one way to feel better about yourself, was to sit and look at your own naked body until it felt normal. Thus, I joined in.

It’s a curious sensation, being naked for no reason. Of course it wasn’t for no reason, but this was the first time I was nude without the context of showering or anything like that. I was just nude, hanging out in my hotel room watching TV. Nude, just because. And sure enough, it was very comfortable.

After watching more episodes of ‘Naked beach’ in the following weeks, I was now presented with nudism being a legitimate thing that people practiced for various reasons. And it got my curiosity.

I had been aware of Nudism conceptually for ages. I don’t think I would be able to recall the first time I heard about nudism. I think like many other people I probably heard of it through pop-culture osmosis where it was the punchline to a joke. But now having actually tried it, albeit on a very small scale, I wanted to learn more.


Branching out online.
Recalling my first attempts to learn about nudism online, I am immediately reminded of a song from “Avenue Q“. The Internet is for porn:

Do I really need to explain this point? A hell of a lot of websites will claim to be about nudism, but really they’re about ogling at nudists. And of course those on show are young, female and good looking.

I think the first place I found that was genuinely for nudists was Reddit. Obviously not Reddit per se, but communities on Reddit such as r/nudism, r/naturism, or r/normalnudes. The objective of the latter sub is to allow people to show off their normal bodies, not the toned and airbrushed images seen in porn. Yeah it still has the problem that the top rated post are always from the types of girls who could make a career out of nude photos, if you get what I mean.

What I would learn from visiting nudist related sites, is that seeing non-sexual nudity and socialising nude has a positive impact on you.

“Communal nudity—when it occurs in a safe space—has the potential to significantly improve body image. It makes people feel less anxious about how others view their bodies which, in turn, makes them appreciate their own appearance even more.”
Justin J. Lehmiller, Ph.D

I can only speak from my own experience, which is that you see how common things like the so called “beer belly” really are. It’s a reminder that people have scars and body hair and un-toned bodies.


First time in public
Now what I’ll say is that up until this point, I was still sleeping nude (and still do) and on occasions spending time undressed in the privacy of my own bedroom. Most often on weekends when I don’t have to go anywhere. Everything I did was in private away from anyone else.

Roll on to the summer of 2019. I have an elderly relative who owns a property in rural Norfolk, but for various reasons they don’t live there any more. Over the summer I had been driving back and forth every weekend doing various work on the garden and minor bits of DIY so that the property could be sold.

That summer was a hot one even by UK standards. While I would work outside in most weathers, there were some days that were too hot. Those were the days I did DIY inside. Before you get ahead of yourselves, no I didn’t do DIY nude. It was safer and more practical to keep clothes on.

It was during the evenings I did the majority of my readings. It’s around this time I learned something interesting – Mere, simple public nudity is not illegal here in the UK. There are laws that can be applied against nude people, but they are wide scoped laws aimed at maintaining public order. In short, unless you’re doing something to provoke a reaction or for sexual gratification, *nudity itself* isn’t illegal.

Clickable link – https://www.bn.org.uk/policing/

The same legal principle protects breastfeeding mothers, protests, charity events and of course, nude beaches.

The last weekend in August was especially hot, and had the bonus of being a bank holiday weekend. As I had completed 90% of the work I had planned to carry out over the summer and it was too hot for me to work anyway, i decided to drive to the coast to go be a tourist for the day.

On that drive, I had a brave idea. I had already set my phone to direct me to the nearest beach, but I decided to pull over and look to see if there were any nude beaches nearby.

There was.

Holkham Beach. While not a full nude beach, it has a section that is clothing optional. I set course.

As it turned out, that bank holiday Monday was the hottest day of the year and many, many other people had the idea of going to the beach. The village of Holkham was packed. Parking there was simply not an option. I had to go back on myself, back to the nearest town with a supermarket just so I could check my phone again for somewhere else, as well as get some lunch.

The advice I read was that the nudist part of the beach was best accessed from the country lanes the far side of the village. Basically the beach is several miles long and the village sits on the eastern end of it, while the nudist section is on the western end.

So again I set off, this time for an unnamed road. When I got there, there were a few cars parked on the side of the road which I joined. After eating my lunch I set off for the beach.

This was not a short walk. In fact it took me an hour and a half to get there. If I remember correctly, there are a mix of coastal defences, farmland and a nature reserve in the area with the path winding around them. The nature reserve in particular is all sandy grass covered dunes which one has to go up and over many times.

But yes, after a long walk I was on the beach, though not quite there yet. The section of beach I emerged on had a few surfers but was otherwise empty, and my phones GPS was still saying I had a little bit further to go. All I needed to do was follow the beach east.

And then I saw it. A little wooden sign post. I don’t recall the exact words, but it was to the effect of “nudity permitted beyond this point” and the logo of British Naturism, though I could not see anyone, clothed or not. After walking a bit further though I did.

I could see a man stood on the beach, looking out at the sea, not wearing a thing. And the closer I got the more people I could see, all nude.

On a side note: Nudism is quite popular with certain demographics. Lots of them tend to be male, older than 50 and caucasian. Heck, I fit 2/3 of that description. That’s not to say other demographics don’t practice nudism, but you might notice more of one group more than any other. A lot more. I mention this because that was certainly the case here.

At this point it was now or never. Either find a spot and undress, or go back home. As I had just spent the best part of 4 hours just getting there, I decided to find a spot.

Thankfully the beach is very wide and while there were a lot of people there, there was plenty of space to choose from. I put my bag down, pulled out the towel I had brought a couple hours earlier and started to undress.

The moment of truth came when I only had my boxers on. After quickly glancing around at the other beach-goers who were all nude already, I took off my underwear.

I had to take a moment to process the reality of my situation.

I was nude in public! I could see other people naked and they could see me. And no one cared.

After gathering my thoughts I packed up my clothes and put them in the bag, (only to stop the sea breeze from blowing sand onto them) and retrieved the suncream.

Now here’s something I didn’t account for. Had I stuck with my original plan, I’d have only needed to apply cream to my arms and face. Now I needed to apply it to my whole body. I had read on the likes of r/nudism that it’s really important to apply protection to areas of your body that don’t normally see the sun because they lack the melanin that would help protect you. That is after all what a suntan is.

Credit @MrLovenstein

How do you apply sun-cream to your penis without looking like a pervert? The answer is as discreetly and quickly as possible.

The other problem area was my back. The last time I had gone to the beach had been with someone, in that case family, who could help apply it to my back. As I had come by myself this time, it was not an option.

The logical answer to this problem would have been to politely ask one of the other beach-goers for help, but deeply introverted me was not going to do that, especially not nude! In the end I decided to apply what I could myself, and to stay facing the sun.

Something you should know here is that I don’t actually like beaches. Being by the coast, sure. But beaches have been quite boring for me since I grew out of building sand castles. If I had stuck with my original plan I would have found somewhere to park, somewhere to get lunch, brought an ice cream and gone for a walk. A bit boring by most people’s standards, but I’ve learnt to ignore that.

I mention this here because once the initial thrill of being there had passed and I had done what I needed to regarding my possessions and suncream, I didn’t know what to do. The only form of entertainment I had with me was my phone, but I wasn’t sure about using it.

While you would assume that users of nude beaches would not mind being seen nude, many are wary of any devices that could be used to photograph or record them. I totally understand that point of view. This was my first time publicly nude and I certainly would not want any evidence of it anywhere (he says, writing about it on the internet.) So you can understand that phones are a bit of a taboo item. Use them when you need to, but go somewhere private first. Using my phone was a no go.

I tried to tan. Just lay there on my towel, head on my bag and sunglasses on to lessen the sun on my face.

I’m going to skip ahead in time here, because the TL;DR is that I spent a couple hours doing practically nothing before returning home, only to discover I hadn’t applied enough sun-cream in a few places and had sunburn. Nowhere particularly uncomfortable, but not nice to sleep on.

The point is, I had done it. I had gone to a nude beach!


Reflections from that day
What did I learn from it though?

  1. The immediate practicalities for one. Apply sun-cream everywhere and apply it liberally! Some things are not meant to be burnt! So in future, I’d either need to not go on the hottest day of the year, or go somewhere a little cooler.
  2. I remembered that I don’t like beaches, or rather why I stopped liking them. So in the future I would maybe pick somewhere different.
  3. The novelty of being nude didn’t wear off as expected. I had read that after a while of being nude and around other nude people you forget about it. It’s supposed to become normal. I can’t say that happened for me. Maybe it takes longer than a couple of hours. Maybe you need to actually interact with people. But I was conscious of the fact everyone could see my privates for the whole time I was there. And I don’t think I ever became 100% comfortable with that. Again, maybe I just needed more time.
Like I said, somethings aren’t made to be burnt.

Of course, this is making a big assumption – That I would do it again.

But I’m not sure if I would. I think the biggest reason is to do with the where. There are nudist campsites (sometimes called resorts), of which you may have to be a member of a nudist organisation (such as British Naturism) before you can go there.
The only places you can be nude for free are on designated public beaches, or out in the wild. And to be honest, none of those appeal to me.

Then there is the social aspect of it. I am very much an introvert and socialising isn’t my thing. Social nudity is NOT something I want to engage in right now.

That pretty much sets the standard for what I have done, or rather not done, between 2019 and today (2022). Yeah, the whole Covid pandemic and the lockdowns that happened greatly impacted things, but to be honest I haven’t really had any desire to go find another beach or join a club or whatever. I have been happy to just continue sleeping in the nude, and maybe when it gets super hot in my room, I’m not always fully dressed.

I can say I’ve completed something from my bucket list, not that I even had (or have) one.

Even when (if) I move out and live on my own I don’t see that changing much, and I base that decision on my previous experience. In my final year at university I lived alone in a studio flat that was on the 1st floor (2nd floor for Americans). It was hard to see in through the windows anyway, but I had a couple large Union Jack flags that I hung from them that acted as net curtains. They let enough light in while also blocking people from seeing in. This meant I didn’t have to worry about people seeing me when I went to bed. As I’ve said, I sleep nude. It also meant I was able to take a shower and walk into the living room without getting dressed again.

But day-to-day nudity? Nope. Granted part of that may have been the fact that I had to be somewhere nearly every day. I had to get up and dressed at some point. Even now back home with my parents, I stay dressed throughout the day because I never know when I might need to answer the door or something.

I suspect that when (if) I have a place of my own, most of what I choose to do will get dictated by what I am able to do. Weather I keep the curtains closed or have some form of net curtains up or whatever. That’s a decision for another day.

The one place I might see nudity coming into my life is at the gym. I’m happy to get changed there as I’ve been doing so since joining, but I have always been very quick and sheepish when doing so. As in, I’ll have my gym trousers ready to put on as soon as I take off my work trousers. That said, even then I’m not fully nude then as I don’t have a need to take my underwear off at that point.

It’s after a gym session that would happen. However I’ll admit that I don’t shower at the gym after a workout. I live only a few minutes away from my gym, so I just drive home and shower there. But as I said, when (if) I move out and live on my own I may be much further away and have to shower there. In that case, maybe I will be less worried about being nude there because it’s somewhat normal for people to do that.

By ‘The Oatmeal

Where am I now?
I see nothing wrong with simple nudity or the human body. That said, I don’t consider myself to be a nudist, more nudist aligned. I’m more in the ‘optional‘ part of the ‘clothing optional’ spectrum. I’m quite happily wearing clothes as I type this out.

As I have said, I am very much an introvert and public social nudity isn’t my thing. But in the right place with the right people, I wouldn’t object to being nude or others being nude. But only if everyone else is happy and consenting too.

That said, I very much believe that where it’s safe and practical, people should be able to decide what they wear, without social or legal consequences. This includes partial or full nudity.

  • Want to wear a full burka? Go for it.
  • Want to wear a sheer/see-through top? No problem.
  • Don’t want to wear a swimming costume to the beach or pool? Enjoy it!
  • Do you identify or present as male but like wearing traditionally female clothing? Guess what, it’s not illegal!

Just to be clear, I’m not saying I believe nudity should be a right enshrined in law. Merely normalised. Obviously if you’re in a place where you need to wear some form of safety equipment, you don’t get to decide not to wear them. As I said, where it’s safe and practical.


But….
The one area I am not comfortable with, is that of children, and I think I have two reactions.
1) The first is the more immediate reaction. I’d call this my ‘gut reaction’. Or maybe it’s the older, “lizard brain” doing the talking. Whichever it is, this is something society has trained all of us to do as well.

That idea is that Children + Nudity = Paedophilia / Child abuse.

As I said at the beginning of this post, we in society have associated nudity with sex, porn and exhibitionism. So in turn we have the idea that children and nudity should not mix.

So for me, the idea of being around a naked child, or being nude myself around a child, creeps me out and scares me at the same time, like I would be witness to a crime or thought of as a criminal myself. I’m not saying it is wrong, but my mind is telling me that anyway.
2) My other reaction is (I hope) the more reasoned one. As I had said, I started reading around online about nudism so of course the subject of children came up eventually. While I’ll admit I was scared to read anything at first (what if my ISP detects me looking at something that might be illegal?), I did eventually read about families that practice nudism, and the effects it has on children.

Side note: I’ve noticed that any legitimate nudist sites will avoid using pictures of children to avoid attracting the wrong sorts of people. Any photos that are used are often tastefully censored.

The TL;DR of it is that the benefits of seeing others nude and being nude socially are the same at any age. The most notable benefit being the promotion of body positivity by displaying normal, human bodies. Not the airbrushed stuff seen in magazines or adult materials. That’s why nudism very often gets promoted as a family friendly activity.

Even so, being able to rationalise it does not remove my gut reaction and my own discomfort at the idea of being nude around children or them being nude around me. So in light of that, I think I’d add a qualifier to what I said about being nude socially; No children.

Unfortunately though there is a downside to that. What sort of establishment comes to mind if you advertise it as “Adults only“? The wrong sort, that’s what.

Children can be annoying little shits regardless of how much clothing they are wearing, and some people like having the option of them not being around. Excluding children however would go against a core ethos of nudism; that it is for everyone. Excluding children would give off the impression that it’s not for children because it’s somehow not safe or appropriate for them.

It would be nice if some nudist places had child-free times that adults could come without having to worry about children being there. In a similar vein, I’ve seen ‘Couples only’ hotels advertised before, though they were more for romantic getaway weekends. Maybe that’s why the demographic of nudists skews towards older, retired people; They have the option of going during the week when kids are still in school.

In any case, I think the only viable option for me would be a nude beach that is far enough away from any populated areas, or at least big enough that you can keep yourself away from children. But again, that’s on the assumption I would do it again.


Links:
I’ve decided that as I have posted quite a few links throughout this post I would organise them here at the end just for convenience sake. I’ve also added a couple additional posts that I wanted to share but couldn’t organically include in the post.

While it should be obvious, some of these links might be considered Not Safe For Work.

British Naturism:

Naked Wonderings:

Reddit communities:

Research related:

Misc blog posts:

The Universal Naturist Symbol

One thought on “That time I tried out Nudism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.