One might think it’s an odd time of year in which to encourage people to consider how to incorporate naturism into their lifestyles, yet it is ideal in many ways. While we all reflect on the past year and step into 2023, there’s no better time for people to examine their thoughts and feelings around their bodies. It doesn’t mean they should be berating themselves about all the wine and chocolate they consumed around the clock during the holidays — just the opposite. It’s a great time to embrace their natural self and consider any negative feelings they may have about nudity, and what causes those feelings.
Here are three resolutions about nudity that we should encourage people to consider as they venture into the new year.
In the name of happiness, it’s time to ditch the shame game
A recent study led by Dr. Keon West, a psychologist at the University of London, UK focused on the psychological impact of public nudity on people who were previously disinterested in spending time with others while unclothed in public. While the positive psychological benefits enjoyed by those who practice a naturist lifestyle have long been accepted, this study was groundbreaking in its approach to understand how people unused to public nudity felt after trying it. The results showed that group nakedness increases self-esteem and body appreciation, while reducing anxiety about one’s physique. These findings bolster previous research by the same psychologist which showed that involvement with naturism usually produces “immediate, large, and enduring improvements in body image, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.”
Why is being naked around other people in a non-sexual context so good for us? Consider this: we are most likely to be unhappy about our bodies when comparing ourselves to nudity as portrayed in pornography, movies, televisions, and other mediums which promote unrealistic body standards. It makes sense that seeing and spending time with regular unclothed folks makes us more accepting of the diversity of the human form and encourages us to judge ourselves, and others, less harshly.
Stop sexualizing children and teach them to embrace their natural selves
Canadian children are being raised in a society where they are constantly encouraged to feel shame and insecurity about their bodies, and the statistics are troubling. Earlier this year, the Canadian Institute for Health Research released data that showed girls aged 10 to 17 with eating disorders were hospitalized nearly 60 per cent more since March 2020. This research paints a bleak picture of this aspect of children’s mental health in Canada, and it doesn’t help that (otherwise prudish) North American culture sexualizes children from a young age. Case in point: in 2017, a W Magazine cover listed then 13 year-old actor Millie Bobby Brown as one of the reasons “Why TV is Sexier Than Ever.”
When it comes to instilling confidence and body acceptance in children, practicing naturism at home or in designated spaces can be enormously beneficial. Earlier this year, holistic women’s health and relationship expert Nadine Robinson wrote about the positive effects of taking her daughters to nude beaches when they were children. “At the naked beach, my children saw elderly bodies, overweight bodies, and bodies of people who have disabilities, all of which are good and valuable bodies, despite being rarely represented in our culture.” This anecdotal evidence is backed up by scholarly research on this topic in psychology and sociology, which has shown that children reared in an atmosphere containing family social nudity benefit from the practice.
Naturism is on the rise…don’t knock it until you’ve tried it
There is no denying that interest in naturism is growing in popularity. In a recent Ipsos poll commissioned by British Naturism 14% of Britons now describe themselves as naturists or nudists: that’s an estimated 6.75 million – or one in seven people in the U.K. Moreover, a YouTube video we created, which demonstrates what a first-time visitor experiences during her time at the park, has reached 7.4 million views in the year since it was posted.
Perhaps we should be unsurprised by this spike of interest in nudism, given the turmoil of life since the onset of COVID-19. As Annebella Pollen, author of Nudism in a Cold Climate, has noted: “After the First World War and flu pandemic, there was this huge appetite to find new ways of living, explore new social structures and to feel free.” With all of the evidence above suggesting that naturism promotes self-esteem, confidence and a feeling of freedom, why not encourage others to give it a try in 2023?