We are at war with our bodies, and it is becoming harder and harder to cover up the evidence. In this horrendous war, the destructive land mines are planted everywhere, haunting our subconscious with images promoting self-destruction in the hopes that some poor bastard will listen and buy a new useless wrinkle cream or whitening toothpaste. In our dominant culture’s quest to find financial wealth, we seem to be raping our bodies of dignity and denying ourselves what it means to be human.
Humans are and always have been animals. When in our evolution as a species did we decide that our bodies were evil and needed to be covered up? I’m not referring to bundling up during extremely cold months. I mean the mentality that the human body, particularly in reference to any organ/area remotely related to sex, is inherently evil and should be covered up at all times. I should add that sex is allowed only when a penis and a vagina are involved…only in the missionary position…and only to produce well-behaved, God-fearing children who will grow up to be well-behaved, God-fearing adults living in suburbia with their 2.5 kids, white picket fence, and golden retriever.
End of rant
Sorry about the rant. My point is: we are scared and ashamed of our own bodies. It is no wonder, then, that so many women (and men) have eating disorders, low self-esteem, insecurity, body dysmorphic disorders, unnecessary plastic surgeries, Botox injections, and the need to buy useless material goods to make them feel better about themselves and their appearance. Where do we draw the line…or have we already gone well past it? It’s definitely time for a change.
Okay, now to the story. I recently participated in a nude swim event with a load of other strangers, mostly men. I must say, I really had no idea what to expect. As a university art student, I really have no hangups about seeing the naked body. In fact, I use it regularly in my work, and enjoy studying it.
After waiting a good 45 minutes for the lifeguard to show up, everyone gladly rushed into the change room and got undressed. Being naked with others is what made me a wee bit nervous. However, all of my worries quickly subsided after realizing how accepting and open this naturist crowd was. I suddenly felt a freedom I never really knew before. Once I got used to the pool’s temperature, I noticed how wonderfully comfortable swimming nude truly is. There was no tight swimsuit riding up my ass. There were no skinny bra-straps I had to pull up every 30 seconds. It was just me, my unshaven self, and the water.
Prejudices about nudists should be dropped. Nudist does not equal pervert or pedophile. During the swim there were no crazy orgies or creepy men humping my leg. There were also children there. They did not seem at all traumatized or emotionally scarred from seeing other naked people! During the whole experience I felt very comfortable and welcomed. I even played catch with a few men in the pool.
I was fortunate enough to have parents who did not fear the “horrors” of the nude body. When I was little, my mother would shower with me, and she taught me to be comfortable in my own skin. On summer days, I would run around the house without clothes, sometimes running outside to play in the water sprinklers. To this day, my parents get dressed with the doors of their bedroom/bathroom open. (I have had the best conversations with my mother while she was changing into her pyjamas.)
It was only when I started going to school that I noticed I was “different.” I was supposed to hide my body and its functions. Doors started to close, trapping me inside. I became ashamed of my maturing body, and once I hit puberty everything just snowballed. My period started when I was 9; my hips widened and my boobs got bigger. I got acne, badly. I hated the way I looked, always comparing myself to others. I grew more and more self-conscious and closed my bedroom door when I got dressed. I covered up. I hid. I made myself sick and starved myself to be thin. I became depressed. I lost who I was.
This is why swimming in my birthday suit was such an enriching experience. I felt myself coming alive again, like when I was kid. I didn’t worry about what others thought of me or my body. I just swam. I could feel my hair cascade down my back in waves, as if I was a mermaid (not the Disney-approved kind).
I don’t think I could swim with something on again. It would be far too constricting. Besides, it would be far too cruel to capture a fish once she has been freed. I’ll just follow the tides.
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The Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) and the Fédération québécoise de naturisme (FQN) share the Canadian membership in the International Naturist Federation (INF), which has its world headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium.