Do naturists have the right idea raising kids around social nudity?
A study shows those who spend time naked or partially naked around others like their bodies more, regard themselves more positively and are more satisfied with life.
Growing up, Andrea Budzey’s only notion of being naked in a social setting was through hearing about so-called nudist colonies.
But after passing the sign for Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park on Highway 404 near East Gwillimbury, Ont. for years, she had grown curious.
“I found out that naturist meant nudist, because I was unfamiliar with the term. And then I was just blown away knowing that it was actually close to where I lived,” she says.
A new mom, Budzey decided that a visit to Bare Oaks should go on her bucket list. So on one beautiful summer day when the weather was just right, she packed up her then five-month-old son and made the trip.
“I loved it. I was hooked. I met a wonderful couple with kids. Everyone seemed very friendly. I went swimming with my son.”
Now a mom of both an 18-month-old girl and a 3-year-old boy, Budzey has embraced the naturist lifestyle.
New research from Goldsmiths, University of London suggests that the naturist lifestyle may help her and her kids lead happier lives. Dr. Keon West, a psychologist at the university, explored the connection between psychological well being and naturist activities and found that those who spend time naked or partially naked around others like their bodies more, regard themselves more positively and are more satisfied with life.
From a young age we are surrounded by images that suggest the only attractive body is the kind that’s worthy of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue or the front of a Calvin Klein underwear box. West’s research found that exposure to “non-idealized” bodies counters the negative effects of all those buff bods we see on billboards.
Stéphane Deschênes is a veteran naturist who has raised two children, now 17 and 20, as naturists from birth. He and his wife are the owners of Bare Oaks, and Deschênes teaches a course on naturism at the University of Toronto.
“We live in a world where you have unrealistic expectations about what people are supposed to look like. That they’re all supposed to look identical, and there’s all kinds of objectification,” he says. “It’s about taking all that away to accept who you are.”
In fact, he says that naturism is actually not about nudity. “The nudity is just a tool to achieve this state where you show your true self, your true authentic self to others. You don’t try to be anything else.”
Deschênes says he has carefully studied all the academic articles and research studies on the effects of naturism on kids. “If I put on my academic hat and do my best to be critical, the most cynical interpretation is that non-sexual nudity has no impact on children. However, most studies suggest positive effects in terms of confidence, self-esteem, and body image.”
The biggest misconception around naturism and kids is that it entails bringing them into a sexual environment, which couldn’t be further from the truth, Deschênes says.
“It’s about desexualizing,” he says. He does warn, however, that it’s worthwhile to do some research if you’re planning to visit a naturist club.
But the fact remains that research done over decades shows that it’s good for children to see non-sexual nudity, Deschênes says.
In choosing to raise their boys as naturists, part of their intent “was that by the time they even thought about sex they’d have seen thousands of nude people. To have them grow up with a different viewpoint of what the human body is about was very important to us, but also being comfortable with who they are and accepting their own bodies.”
Greater confidence is exactly what Andrea Budzey has gained. “I wasn’t someone who was really comfortable with my body. I can honestly say I’m on a medication and one of the side effects is gaining some weight. I’m probably the heaviest I’ve even been in my life right now and I’ve never felt so beautiful.
“Because I go to Bare Oaks, I go to that hot tub, I’m not wearing any clothes, I don’t have to squeeze into tight jeans. I can let it all hang out and I can feel great and beautiful and happy.”
Source: www.thestar.com; By BRANDIE WEIKLE