AFTER British Naturism gained 1,100 members last year, Amy Nickell explains why wearing no clothes is the hottest trend in fashion.
To most people, getting naked in front of strangers is the stuff of nightmares – but as soon as temperatures soar I can’t wait to get my kit off.
The nudism organisation British Naturism gained 1,100 new members in 2020 — so it seems losing your clothes is fast becoming the hottest trend in fashion.
And for me, stripping off is synonymous with the joys of summer. As the UK gears up for 16 days of sweltering heat and we all get set to slather on the SPF, I can’t wait to don my summer uniform of not very much at all.
If it’s sunny — well, that’s licence to strip off.
A summer top is a bikini at least, a crop top at most, legs will be bared until October and clothes are replaced with essential sunscreen instead.
To be clear, the way I dress in summer would have me sent packing off an easyJet flight. If it rains, wear a raincoat, if it snows, grab a scarf, and if it’s sunny — well, that’s licence to strip off.
If this offends you, then kindly look the other way.
In short, I am all for women wearing whatever they want, whenever they want — I even went on telly to promote the merits of naked sunbathing.
I’m now 31 and I have not always felt like this. Some days, I still have to remind myself that everyone has cellulite, and it’s OK not to be a size 8 any more. I’m a size 12, post-lockdowns. Nothing will ever look as bad as self-consciousness feels.
Pre-Covid, in July 2019, I joined the kingpins of the British naturism scene for a day at Nudefest, where 500 naturists descend on Somerset to take part in a week-long celebration of nakedness.
No age limit, families are welcome — clothes optional. This lot have long known that clothes go out of fashion as soon as the mercury soars.
The attitudes they have toward their bodies were inspiring and taught me the freedom that comes with losing your clothes and your inhibitions. And once I took the plunge, I ended up taking their ethos home with me.
I quickly realised naturism has nothing to do with sex and more to do with losing any shame you have.
I quickly realised naturism has nothing to do with sex and more to do with losing any shame you have, warranted or not, about the skin you’re in.
I thought that if I could leave with ten per cent of their body confidence, then it could be life-changing.
And naturism is certainly good for the bank balance. Each winter I probably cough up around £300 on warmer clothes, but thanks to my barely-there summer wardrobe, I rarely spend more than £50. Bikinis are timeless classics, after all.
And I spend less on clothes now that I feel body confident because I can finally enjoy fashion, rather than feeling uncomfortable when following trends, constantly looking for something to make me look thinner or my legs look longer.
I used to let an imagined opinion of my body parts determine what I could and couldn’t wear. So in winter, there is nothing more cosy than a comfy knit, but come summer I’ll never cover up in itchy opaques because I’m worried about how my short legs look.
My wardrobe is dictated by what feels best for me, rather than what looks best to other people. But Britain is one of the most self-conscious populations in Europe, and lockdowns made many of us feel worse about our body image.
To be frank, we’re facing a body-image crisis, so little wonder there is mass panic among women when summer is just around the corner. Perfect images that bombard social media have a significant influence on young people. Flooded with airbrushed images of people whose job it is to look perfect, most of us have got used to feeling like we don’t shape up.
Perfect images that bombard social media have a significant influence on young people.
My teenage years peaked in 2007, perhaps the most toxic time for body image. Diet culture pervaded every image, film and TV show in a way that thankfully we since seem to have shed and replaced with more diverse body types.
However, body positivity is still body obsession, and we’re still often unable to see beyond the surface layer. Gwyneth Paltrow stripped off to celebrate turning 48 — but looking like she did when she turned 20. Amanda Holden is never not flaunting her 50-year-old body that is a credit to what must be one hell of a calorie deficit.
Naturism’s brand of body positivity shifts the focus from the body entirely and embraces the person beyond the skin.
Upon my return from Nudefest, I was judged by a minority of people who couldn’t get their heads around my intrigue about naturism.
They thought I’d joined a swingers’ club at best, joined a bare-bottomed cult at worst and was now a full-time perverted exhibitionist.
Conversely, getting naked was the thing that made me realise I am more than a sum of my parts and that no one will ever put me under the micro-scope I’d applied to myself.
What helped me shift my focus was thinking about everything my body can do, like create and give life to my amazing six-year-old son, Freddy.
He’s also made me realise the impact parents have on their children developing positive body images, by speaking kindly about our own.
I spent too long seeing my body as the enemy, which is why it was time to declare the war over and I’d hide it no more. So follow my lead and get your body out this summer — you’ve only got one, so enjoy it while you can.
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