I’ve always been fairly open about my naturism. It was my Dad, via my aunt (married to a Dutchman), who first asked if I fancied a summer job alongside my cousin, who would be working in a restaurant owned by my uncle‘s friend, that commenced my naturist activities twenty years ago this summer.
Which is how we ended up in Cap D’Agde, waiting on tables and doing the washing up under a blistering sun six days a week form mid-June to mid-September, 1995.
Back then mobile phones were in their infancy, so keeping in touch with home was a once or twice weekly affair from a call box (remember them?) with the conversation ending when I ran out of loose change with which to feed the phone.
So…we worked six long days. Dressed. The cafe owner, quite rightly, I’d say, demanded the staff be dressed for hygiene purposes when dealing with food, and we’d have to throw our branded T-shirts into the washing machine (he was fine with us wearing our own shorts) at the end of each shift, retrieve them from the washing machine and dry them in the sun for an hour the following morning before the next shift began. I was fine with being dressed that first week. I wasn’t a naturist. So we’d work 12 hours, I’d change into one of my own T-shirts and we’d toddle back to our apartment at 200am each morning.
For six long days did we labour, and on the seventh, we rested. Our day off! The cafe closed on a Monday while the owner replenished supplies, did his paperwork and so on, and Monday also seemed to be a relatively quiet day business-wise, as people still had that weekend-partying mentality, with Monday being a detox and nurse the hangover kind of day.
I’ve written about my debut before, so I’ll quickly recap for the benefit of new readers. On our day off we made our way to the pool, my cousin and I in our brand new bikinis. She immediately removed hers and began sunbathing, I took….a little while before the top and then the bottoms came off.
Where was I? Oh yes, in the call box! So I rang home and Mum answered. A bit of general ‘are you settling in? what’s the weather like?’ conversation and then… ‘and have you gone naked with everyone else?’.
Trying to sound more grown up and sophisticated than a rather innocent, just-turned-18 year old, I was hoping it would sound like ‘oh yes, it’s a perfectly natural way to live here, nothing to it’ with some gravitas to it. Instead I just squeaked, slightly embarrassed’, ‘yes!’
‘Good for you, dear’, Mum said as if I’d just told her I’d earned so much in tips. ‘I’ve just told your father and he says ‘well done”, she continued.
You see, while the whole family knew I’d be working in a naturist resort, no one knew if I’d participate. There’s a very good reason for the family thinking this. At 18 I was the school-dance wallflower, the skinny girl with no boobs and big, horrible unfashionable glasses which are now fashionable. Never had a boyfriend, happiest with my face buried in a book, wouldn’t say boo to a mouse.
Looking back, I think my Dad maybe nudged me to go, his only daughter not being very well versed in the ways of the world. An innocent abroad. I think he maybe thought it might make me sink or swim. I think it may be that my parents expected me home after a week or two.
The naturism was kind of incidental. I feel I was maybe nudged into that job as I would have been any other summer, gap-year job had it come up. I could, just as easily, have ended up spending the summer working in a supermarket a mile away from our house had the opportunity presented itself.
By chance, it was naturism, and I swam rather than sank. Indeed, it reached the point, about three weeks in, if I remember correctly, that my cousin and I kept towels in the cafe, and at the end of the shift we’d strip off, have a quick, refreshing swim in a pool that was officially closed for the evening, and then wander the mile or so back to our apartment naked, towels around our shoulders or slung over our shoulders. Around the same time we established a routine of getting up fifteen minutes earlier to walk naked to the pool (now officially open) for a quick dip prior to washing down tables and setting out ash-trays while still nude and dripping wet (but not for long under the sun!). Then, as opening time approached, we’d stick on our shorts and T-shirts for another 12 hour shift.
By the time I cam home the entire family knew I was now an enthusiastic naturist. ‘You can’t believe how free it feels swimming without a costume’, I’d gush to whichever parent answered the phone. It was something I couldn’t hide from family. They knew, right from the start.
Nowadays, most of my social circle also know I’m naturist and last summer I took two non-naturist friends on holiday with me for a week in Spain. They returned a week later as, if not committed naturists, then two ladies who’ve experienced and participated in the naturist lifestyle, something else I covered on the blog last summer. Incidentally, at the time of writing, a repeat is very much something that could happen this June.
I don’t talk about this at the school gates, I have to say, quite simply because it’s not really something that comes up. Am I going on holiday? Yes. Where to? I’ll mention the name. They’ve never heard of it. It’s half way between Murcia and Almeria, I’ll say. Never heard of either of them, they’ll say. And the conversation generally moves on. It’s just a family holiday in Spain. Would I tell them it was naturist if pressed? Yes. Now, I would. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed by naturism. It’s not something I feel I need to hide.
What about work? There was a time when I would not have voiced my holiday preferences in a work environment. Sometimes that was simply because I work there, they don’t control my life outside my contract of employment, and it was none of their business. Am I writing ‘naturist’ on my CV? No. I don’t write ‘bakes her own bread’ on my CV either. And you don’t write ‘deep sea fisherman’ on your CV. Or ‘I like a fortnight chilling with a good book and a glass of chianti, trying to forget your ugly faces’ on your CV. It’s irrelevant to work. However, where the subject has arisen, I’ve been open about it. Yes, I like to bake my own bread. It’s fresher and tastes better than shop-bought. There! I’ve said it. Judge me!
I present the case and my logical reasons for participating in a thing, be it bread baking or naturism. You don’t like it? Fine, no one is asking you to be a baker. Or a naturist. It’s something I do, big deal. It’s not affecting your life whether I make banana bread or take my clothes off on a beach where everyone else has their clothes off.
People, if you do tell them you’re a naturist, don’t recoil in horror. I’ve never experienced that. They’re more fascinated than anything else. Occasionally I’m the one who is taken aback when that matronly woman in another office says ‘oh yes, my husband and I have been naturists for years’ or some senior figure says ‘yeah, did that in Greece last year and loved it’.
Many of the posts on this blog relate to the normalisation of nudity in real life (RL) society. We can only continue an upwards curve to make it appear as normal as a bikini if we’re all proud of the fact that we’re naturists. We should have nothing to hide or feel shame or embarrassment about.
Of course I recognise that for employment advancement reasons people don’t want their naturism widely publicised. I accept that. Nor, for the same reason, do they want their photos splashed all over the internet -although that attitude is changing, people seem to care less and less about being photographed nude (and I have a ‘selfies’ related post coming up on that debate). Where naturism is still perceived very much an ‘older person’s’ lifestyle, could that be because it’s when we get older and retirement arrives, or is just around the corner, we are no longer concerned with being seen? The situation is that an employer can no longer ‘hurt’ us in that respect, and married to a realisation that we are now much more comfortable with our own skins than we were in our uncertain teens and vain 20s, we accept ourselves, mentally and physically, which I believes results in many people ‘coming out’ as naturist in their 40s & 50s.
I know that, in sexual terms, there’s such a thing as being ‘bi-curious‘. I’ve no idea what sort of percentage of people would identify themselves as ‘bi curious’ (and from what I’ve read it would appear that it’s women to whom the term is more regularly applied. The Daily Mail identifies about 50% of the female population being bi-curious, and the Huffington Post recommends it to women over 50. Something of a porn trope, and the fantasy of a male sharing a bed with two females who, when finished with the heterosexual sex, begin performing some form of girl/girl activity. I don’t imagine this threesome would ever be portrayed as two males and a female, with the two males subsequently performing some manner of homosexual activity with each other.
I’ve no idea where they get these figures from, or how much it may be true or made up. What I will tell you, though, is that it would be my belief that probably well over 80% of the world’s population are probably ‘nat-curious‘. Consider it: if we hear there’s a naturist beach in the vicinity, we can be sure that many people will go to view it. Because naked bodies, even those in a non-sexual environment, still excite us. Of course they do. These are primal needs. Since man starting drawing on cave walls humans have been drawing and then subsequently, sculpting, painting and photographing nudes. In fact, some of us mould them from pixels on a screen! A thousand years from now, when new technologies not yet invented or imagined are being utilised for the delivery of information, the human race (if it survives that long) will be using that technology to depict ‘the nude’.
Ours may be a brutal world, but ‘the nude’ unites us. Few of us would consider it ‘disgusting’. China, Iran, Islamic State, North Korea…..the red blood’s still the same. You don’t think that, despite the repression, some government official in Kim Jong Un’s inner circle isn’t trying to imagine that foxy little ‘comrade’ in her lingerie or less? Hmmm…maybe not a great analogy, as we read that Kim Jong Un is in the process of assembling a ‘harem’. a ‘pleasure troupe’. We know that the same primal urges exist, despite the fact that he’s a dangerous nut-job.
And yet many people fear nudity, simply because we still consider it to be beyond ‘normal’ social conventions.
Which is why I’m a firm believer in those of us who do embrace naturism as a lifestyle choice working hard to promote, positively, and be proud of the fact. It’s only by talking about it and seeing it presented positively in the media that we ‘normalise’ it. Hence Femen, hence #freethenipple, hence top-free equality.
Let’s track back a couple of paragraphs and apply it to Second Life. (SL)
There are many avatars in SL whose nat-curiosity is fulfilled, by some extent, to the fact that they can go nude, that they can enjoy the naturist lifestyle, within the game. No boss to worry about. No body confidence issues to worry about. I know from speaking to them that they lack confidence or sometimes simply opportunity to indulge in the lifestyle. Which is fine. Not everyone has opportunity, or self-confidence, to strip off in public. Sometimes they lack education in the topic, which is why -within the virtual world of SL- I keep trying to promote the positive values of it all, as a family friendly, non-sexual lifestyle that encourages exercise and good health. The hope is that you can promote the lifestyle, within the game, so that people will not only try it, but try it with a framework of the best motives and understanding.
That’s an uphill task. It’s not our place to criticise sims where avatars get naked and indulge in cybersex. If that’s people’s needs from the game, we aren’t SL’s moral compass or guide. But we do feel it is our responsibility to keep banging on about these essentially cybersex sims not advertising or promoting themselves as ‘nudist’ or ‘naturist’. Even then, it’s a wobbly tightrope to traverse. Cap D’Agde, where I made my own naturist debut twenty years ago, was a genuine naturist resort then, but has not become over-run, at least in terms of the media coverage afforded it, by voyeurs, exhibitionists and swingers. Yet it sits cheek by jowl with what are still a large number of traditional, genuine naturists. So where do I draw the line on SL naturism? If a sim has any poseballs, do I rule it out from coverage? It’s possible to send an avatar to a naturist sim to converse with others and work up a tan, revolving slowly on a beach bed while, just behind those trees, two other avatars are going at it hammer and tongs as they bump pixels.
This blog can’t stand still. We must develop, change, tweak and fine tune what we do.
We need to continue a fight to promote positive naturist values. We need to fight against the nudity=sex locations who don’t understand and never will. But that shouldn’t stop us trying. We also need to be proud of our naturism, in and out of SL, and not to be afraid of the debates it might raise.