One thing I’ve learned over the years with regards naturism or, indeed, any form of collective public nudity is how much peer pressure plays in getting someone to disrobe. From the Roskilde fun run, to coy, collective topless ‘hand bra’ shots on holiday, to the WNBRs, to Tunick shoots or even first time on a naturist beach, peer pressure often plays a role.
Last week I wrote about my first summer job in a naturist cafe in Cap D’Agde (consider this post to be ‘Agde Memories No.1), and how our day off at the end (strictly speaking, a Monday, the beginning of the week) allowed my cousin Sylvia and I to immerse ourselves in naturism.
Sylvia had previous experience of the lifestyle, I had none, so on our first day off we headed to the pool at the Heliopolis complex. It’s the large semi circular building(s) you see in many Agde photos.
The following photo isn’t me (we’re essentially in the pre-digital, pre-mobile phone days, so photography didn’t feature the entire holiday, and rather sadly, no photographic evidence of us exists on that holiday) but it’s the very pool where I would make my nude debut.
Back then, Agde hadn’t lost its innocence, it was a strictly naturist location, and the following photos capture images that would be in line with my memories of the place. Innocent naturism. No silicone, no genital piercings, no tattoos, no genital shaving. Possibly my outlook on naturism remains coloured by that first experience of the lifestyle.
Which brings us back to peer pressure.
There was a fair bit of communal nudity within the confines of our tatty apartment. No air con, hot nights, having worked ourselves into a lather during the clean up and wash down at closing time meant we’d come back, strip off and flop onto our respective camp beds. I’d always been an enthusiastic swimmer, so a bit of communal nudity in a changing room never bothered me, and didn’t bother me when it was Sylvia and myself in our apartment. The idea of public nudity was something else again, though.
Our first day off saw us striding towards the pool area, Sylvia nude, me clad in the bikini I’d specially bought for this working holiday.
Sylvia swam. Sylvia sunbathed. I sat on the sun lounger. And then I sunbathed in my bikini. Eventually I got as daring as I was going to dare to be, and undid the clasp of my bikini to let my back feel the full benefit of the sun.
And all the while Sylvia was gently reminding me that it was a naturist place. Some gentle pressure was being applied. The day was getting hotter, I was beginning to break out in a sweat and that pool did look inviting! And so…with a great big lump in my throat, I managed to slide off the bikini briefs while remaining seated on the pool lounger.
It’s fine, I would tell myself. It’s only my bottom now on display in public. No biggie! Stay calm Ella and enjoy your book!
I was positioning myself such that even though men and women were walking up and down next to my sun lounger, nothing important was on display. And I was bare in public, I’d remind myself. I was exceptionally brave, I told myself. But that sun was damned hot and I needed to cool down quickly. Eventually it got too much.
A dash to the pool side, everyone, the whole world, watching me as I attempted to reach the water with as much of me hidden as I could possibly achieve, like these ladies below. Everyone was staring!!!!!!!
Actually, no one gave two hoots for me, but that wasn’t how I saw it at the time. The water was terrific, though and I stayed in for ages, quite contentedly swimming around and innocently oblivious to the fact that anyone wearing a pair of swim goggles could see all of me anyway.
The run back to the lounger was equally half-covered, red-faced with embarrassment, and sure the eyes of the world (in reality, no one) was looking at me. Again, refer to the gallery above…
But I was now a naturist! Not a very confident one, admittedly, but small steps and all that…
To a small degree, I felt cajoled into it, gentle peer pressure from Sylvia. And I guess that’s the same for many people in Tunick shoots, WNBRs or even mad (perhaps a little drunken) midnight skinny dips on holiday. ‘Hey, let’s all get naked and hit the…. (Tunick shoot/WNBR/sea at midnight/delete as necessary)’. Great idea, says someone else, and the next thing you know you’re willingly or reluctantly signed up for some form of public nudity. And you don’t want to be the shrinking violet, the one who baulks at the idea and seems afraid. You go along with it. Sometimes that’s the way into public nudity in a naturist sense. There’s strength in numbers.
I’ll subsequently pick this up in another of my postings that recall Cap D’Agde, and my discovery of naturism, next week.