August 11, 2014
The Most Terrifying Yet Rewarding Therapy
As one who suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder and has struggled on and off with anorexia for years, I never thought I’d be in the position I was in this past weekend. I hate my body and have always been self-conscious after a lifetime of bullying and a history of abusive relationships. That’s why when I found out what I had gotten myself into, I was petrified. A friend of mine had brought me to Sunsport Gardens’ Young Naturist’s End of Summer Fest, a naturalist nudist gathering; I was completely out of my comfort zone. I was so reluctant to partake in it; stunned that this would really be happening, but since I trusted this friend with my life and knew that they must be bringing me for some reason I had yet to discover, I decided to go with the flow. The first night, I stood out, still wearing clothes, because for me, it was normally scary enough to be wearing shorts and a t-shirt or tight clothing. But my friend introduced me to some wonderful people, and we all started talking and hanging out as if we had known each other our entire lives. One of the new people I met told me their own story, about how they had struggled the same way I had and how much this place had helped them recover, and slowly but surely I gained more confidence and was able to shed one article of clothing at a time until I was as nude just as the rest. As the night came to a close and we all went back to our tents to sleep for a few hours until the next day’s events.
The next morning however, I remembered the fact that I was naked and couldn’t leave the tent for a while. I was so frightened of revealing myself to the hundred-plus strangers wandering about outside, having only been naked in front of three people in my life prior to a few hours earlier. Eventually though, my friend coaxed me out, and I stepped into the bright sunlight, feeling as if I had woken up for the first time. We went down to the main pool area where everyone was gathered, and I had a lesson from Morley about the camp and all it offered and was so excited. I sat around and saw how free it was, how everyone was so comfortable and friendly. Most people seemed to have known each other for years, and normally when there is such a preset community established, as an outsider, it feels alienating. This was the absolute opposite conversely here, everyone came up and introduced themselves and welcomed me. I had never felt so included and accepted in my entire life!
As the day progressed, there were countless activities to partake in. Things as diverse as a seminar about learning how to express and accept love to break-dancing lessons. I managed to come out of my shell bit-by-bit with the help of all the friends I had met and became more and more confident and was even able to leave my friend who I was using almost like a safety-blanket, in order to spend time with all the great people I had just met. We ran around, playing in the pool, volleyball, glow tag, body-paint, voyaging on nature trails, but most importantly laughing and having fun. I was so swept up by all the love and equality around me, I forgot we were all naked and let go of my fears as I joined in all the activities instead of watching from the sidelines like I was accustomed to. Everyone I met was patient with me, and were so positive with their words of encouragement and love.
I am struggling to find the words to give justice to this weekend’s experience. I met so many wonderful people I hope to be friends with for life. I dived head first into something that was horrifying to me. I exposed myself to hundreds of strangers, and they did the same with me. There was such a positive energy there, it was life altering. For the first time in my life, when I returned home and looked in the mirror, I didn’t want to cry. I looked at myself and was happy with who was looking back at me. My life was forever changed and I cannot even begin to express how to quantify it. This weekend was priceless and life altering in such a magical way. To be free of all the pain and fear that held me back for all these years. Well, I may not be completely cured, that will be something I will still have to work with, but these people, this new family, have bettered me.
This is something I never thought I would do. This community is one I never knew existed. This new world, now though, is something I need to be a part of. Something I need to share with the world. I want everyone to get to have this opportunity, to discover their true selves like I have. Because I conquered so many fears and took part in so many things I never would have had the courage to do on my own. But the thing is, at Sunsport, even though I had come in only knowing one person, I left feeling like I had known so many of the people I had only met hours earlier like I had known them for years. And I sure hope I will get to be friends with them for years. I am now a naturist for life.
August 11, 2014
Admittedly, I came to the Young Naturist End of Summer Event at Sunsport Gardens feeling a bit nervous. The weekend was my first experience being fully naked in public in front of strangers. Amazingly, all the nerves went away the minute I got there. And since participating, I feel great and look forward to doing it again. I can honestly say now I feel more comfortable completely nude in from of people at the pool than I do in a bikini! I am so happy I opened myself up to the experience and making new friends. The event itself was great; the drum circle, body paint, volleyball, swimming, etc. However, the thing that struck me most was my own acceptance with body image and the way people around me view themselves.
The reaction I get from telling people I went to the event is kind of how I felt the first time I heard about it. A little shock and insistence that I could never do something like that. Instantly people talk about how ashamed they are of their bodies saying things like, “no one wants to see me naked,” or “I need to lose weight first.” Society and media have created the “perfect woman” the “Super Model” stereotype of what the female body should look like. And my body definitely does NOT fit that profile. I have struggled with my weight/body image the last few years as my metabolism slowed down as I near my thirties. I was afraid to look at myself in the mirror with clothes on, much less without. People would tell me I look great, yet I was not comfortable in my own skin.
Growing up with a nurse mom, she basically taught me that the human body was natural. She would walk around the house naked and had no shame barring all in the ladies locker room. However, for some reason this mentality did not rub off on me. For women we all have the same parts, right? Yet, somehow throughout High School/College, I found myself trying to change clothes without revealing a single “private part” of my body. This has been the case my whole life. Always self-conscious of how others would see and worse, how they would judge me. Most people, myself included, will people watch and pass judgments on others about how they look. But the question now I wonder is why?
At Sunsport Gardens’ Young Naturist event, it was a huge relief and so refreshing to see so many people not afraid to “bare all”, literally. So many people my age with different body types, all so comfortable. It was inspiring and really put me at ease. We coexisted for a weekend without the pressure of wondering if my clothes were too tight or what others were thinking about me. This experience has made me not only more open-minded but also more comfortable in my own skin. I would recommend that everyone give this a try and experience, firsthand, what its like to accept your body image. I look for forward to another event in the future and hope to see more people there.