So why won’t sister in law Mary, the non-naturist, go nude? ‘Body issues.’
This is probably a familiar tale to many women and their partners. ‘I’d love to have the body confidence to go naturist but…’
Mary is a number of years older than me, beyond 50, the mother of three adult children, but in speaking to her there’s definitely a sense of her thinking, in her own mind, that she should be the teen-shaped body there somewhere, despite the incredible, wonderful journey she has been on over the past three decades.
Boobs ‘saggy’, bottom ‘too big’, C-section scars ‘too ugly.
Apparently. Allegedly. I’ve not seen to be able to confirm as even in the privacy of our apartment she’s incredibly body-phobic. While I wander around naked, she’s uncomfortable with her own nudity.
Over the years I’ve met many women for whom a ridiculously false ‘body image’ has been the bar to them embracing naturism.
Society and the media have created such a sense of ‘the imperfect body’ that women often feel repulsed by their own mirror image. It’s quite ridiculous. None of us have ‘the perfect body’. All of us feel that we have imperfections which we magnify to ourselves. And society and the media reinforce this negative image constantly.
Nowadays, even governments are in on the action. While ‘childhood obesity‘ is certainly a growing problem, and action must be taken to make children much more active rather than being welded to their electronic devices rather than cycling, exploring, playing sports, the focus on it can’t help with body image either. From an early age we’re bombarded with the idea that we’re overweight, ugly, imperfect.
By all means continue to encourage people to be more active, government, but maybe a bit more pro-activity in the sphere of not being hand-in-glove with the international food companies? Maybe a bit more in the way of taxation on sugar-coated breakfast cereals. A bit more in the way of discouraging fizzy drinks. A bit more in the way of creating a society wherein chocolate is a treat, not a meal.
To my mind, Mary is by no means ‘fat’. Age, and that ‘middle-aged spread‘ contribute to a broadening body after 40, and for women the menopause also contributes.
This might be Mary’s reality. She’s an active woman who goes hill-walking a lot, but drilled into her is the sense of negative body image to the point she doesn’t feel comfortable looking in the mirror, let along going comfortably nude in the pool or elsewhere.
We sat up last night drinking wine, talking a lot about this. Eventually, at midnight, when it was dark and no one could possibly see her at all, we made it to poolside, her in a swimming costume. I did”t press or push for her to do otherwise, as it’s important with all potential naturists to encourage them to find their own comfort levels.
What was good about it is that being outside in the pool, after midnight, was for Mary a hugely positive experience in itself, even clothed, which means that we’ll almost certainly be making that a regular night time thing over the course of the holiday, and her sense of ‘wow!’ was such that, in the company of a little more wine and an evolving holiday sense of relaxation, there’s a framework on which to encourage her further.