One of the stars of The Great British Skinny Dip (tonight, 10pm) is veteran naturist Andrew Welch. He believes the world would be a much happier place if everybody stripped off more often.
“Naturism and social nudity is actually really good for you,” he says. “I know most people laugh and can’t imagine what it’s like and perhaps think we’re all a bit strange. But it is really is very healthy for mind, body and spirit.
“It is a lovely community thing. Naturists are very friendly, very welcoming, very happy. Research shows that being naked makes you happier.”
He’s not making that last bit up. In January, Goldsmiths University published research which concluded that taking part in naturist activities can help make us significantly more satisfied with our bodies and lives.
Tempted? Before you whip off your pants, Welch explains the dos and don’ts…
Don’t: expect any naughty business
There are two main barriers to people trying naturism. The first is thinking that it is orgies all the time. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Don’t: be shy
The second barrier is body confidence. People say: “I just couldn’t possibly do it because my [insert name of body part] is too [insert description].” It just doesn’t matter. Once you get over that initial surprise of being naked amongst a whole load of other naked people, it’s really easy to enjoy it and just get on with being part of that community. Let’s stop being shy. We are all the same. There’s no such thing as a perfect body.
Do: try it on holiday
The next time you find yourself on a beach and some of the people have no clothes on, give it a try. That’s how I discovered naturism. When I was about 14, my family went on holiday to a caravan site on the west coast of France. On a beach nearby there was a whole section where people had no clothes on and I just thought: “Yep, that’s for me.” It seemed very relaxed to me, very liberating.
A few years later, on another holiday, a beach was recommended to me and it turned out to be where the naturists were. So I took my swimming trunks off and thought: “Yep, I was right. This is really, really lovely and I want to do this again.”
Do: find out about local groups and events
People are amazed at just how much there is going on. There are lots and lots of naked swims. There are country clubs with landscape grounds, a big swimming pool and a clubhouse that you can a visit for the day or become a member. British Naturism runs a whole variety of events: hotel weekends, camping weekends, indoor and outdoor swims.
The Great British Skinny Dip 2016; main picture above: Andrew Welch enjoys a swim
If it would be bad behaviour with your clothes on, then it’s likely to be bad behaviour without your clothes on. If I saw you in a bar, I wouldn’t come and stay at your breasts, would I? In a naturist environment, that’s not considered to be good behaviour either.
Don’t: make personal comments about anybody else’s body
Not at all.
Do: bring a towel
One rule we enforce all the time is you have to sit on something when you sit on a chair for hygiene purposes. Usually we will carry a small towel but it would be alright to put down a blanket or a t-shirt.
Do: bring the kids
That goes against intuition for a lot of people, but it’s a good thing for children to grow up knowing what’s going to happen to their bodies and realising that everybody is the same underneath, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re short, tall or whatever. On our ‘big days out’ webpage, you’ll find events and camping weekends for all the family.
Do: take part in The Great British Skinny Dip 2017
This year’s Great British Skinny Dip will run for the whole of September and we’re hoping to have a lot more venues and opportunities for people to try costume-free swimming. You can even organise your own. In the second decade of the 21st century, lots more people are realising they’re human beings. And what is the point of buying a swimming costume if all you’re going to do is get it wet?
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