Nudism helped me to love my body at last
Stripping off revived KERRY HIATT'S marriage - but would YOU dare to bare?
When friends told me about Britain’s first naturist spa hotel in Birmingham — Clover Spa, which opened in March — I couldn’t help but giggle as they expressed their horror at the very idea of holidaying naked.
They pondered the discomfort of sunburned bits and shuddered at the thought of baring all for the world to see. Little did they know that I’d already been to a naturist spa, and loved it.
I have always been insecure about my body. In fact, for the first year of our relationship, my husband never saw me naked in daylight.
In the morning, when I was having a shower, I would pull the blinds in the bathroom to keep it in semi- darkness. In the bedroom, I favoured candlelight.
Though it may sound silly to some, back then, my body felt like the stuff of nightmares — I have stretch marks, dimples and lots of flabby bits.
On a good day, seeing myself naked would prompt me to go to the gym on my way to work. On a bad day, it would cause me to spiral into depression.
A year into our relationship, Joe and I got married at his father’s home in Florida. Surely, now that we were wed, I’d feel more at ease?
I wasn’t. In fact, being in Florida made the situation worse.
While the family frolicked on the beach in tiny bikinis and swimming trunks, I watched from a sun lounger, sweating under a long black skirt and T-shirt.
Joe was concerned by my insecurities, but was nevertheless full of compliments — even when I felt I was at my worst — and told me how beautiful he found me. I believed him, yet I couldn’t quite overcome my phobia. Until I tried nudism.
Seven months later, we were back in Florida and drove past a ‘clothing optional’ hotel. I couldn’t help but wonder what went on inside.
‘Have you ever been in there?’ I asked Joe. ‘No,’ he grinned. ‘Do you want to have a look?’
Of course, he expected me to dismiss his suggestion. Yet my interest was piqued. Perhaps it would help me to see other people at ease with their bodies.
I wouldn’t have to strip completely, I decided before making a decision. ‘Let’s do it,’ I agreed.
As we pulled up and I opened the car door, I saw three older gentlemen walking towards me swinging tennis rackets, clad only in sparkly, white gym shoes.
They looked as though they hadn’t a care in the world. Then, two ladies in their 30s whizzed by on a golf cart in nothing but their sunhats.
The reception area looked like that of any other well-appointed hotel and the staff were friendly. I explained I was interested in visiting, but was fearful of the concept.
The receptionist smiled and told me that people could be as clothed, or as naked, as they wished. Pushing two free day passes towards us, she asked us to try it out for ourselves and explained a few house rules.
No sexual conduct was tolerated and towels had to be placed beneath you while sitting.
Before I knew it, we were buying two towels and heading out into the main resort area.
Men and women of all shapes and sizes lounged by the pool sipping cocktails, while others played team sports or chatted. I saw stretch marks, dimples, tan lines and lots of flabby bits, just like mine. The difference was that these people didn’t care.
As the sun beat down on us — me dressed head-to-toe in black — Joe eyed me. ‘What do you think?’ he asked.
I pondered for a moment before heading towards two sun loungers by the pool, then said: ‘I think we should take our clothes off.’
Though nervous, I didn’t feel uncomfortable. Slowly, I slipped out of my clothes, and for one nerve-racking minute while I stood nude, I looked at others’ faces to see if they were laughing at my wobbly bits.
To my surprise, not a soul even so much as glanced my way.
‘Your turn,’ I said to Joe. His eyebrows raised, a grin crossed his face as he stripped off, too.
We arranged our towels before laying down and enjoying the sun. I felt an intoxicating rush of freedom. The sunshine on my bare skin was too delicious for words.
For so many years, I’d worried about what others thought of me. I suddenly realised what a huge waste of time that had been.
As the day grew hotter, Joe and I ventured into the bar to order some drinks and food.
Though it felt strange to be unclothed in such a formal setting, it was also exhilarating.
After lunch we were asked to join in with a game of volleyball in the pool. As we slipped into the water, I couldn’t help smiling at finding myself living out the true nudist cliche. Volleyball? Naked?
Rather than being nervous, I found the situation impossibly funny. It took a while to get into the game — jumping to hit the ball without a bra was pretty uncomfortable — but the camaraderie made me feel instantly welcome. And when the time came to leave, I was dismayed at the prospect of having to put my clothes back on. They felt uncomfortable and hot.
‘Do you love me less now that you’ve seen me naked in daylight?’ I asked Joe as we were driving away. ‘I love you more,’ was his response.
I’ve since become addicted to the lifestyle. When we left Britain in favour of a Spanish cottage on a remote mountain, I rarely wore clothes during our six-month stay, relishing the sun on my exposed skin.
And now we’re back in Greenwich, I intend to visit as many naturist places as possible.
I would never have believed a single visit to a nudist resort could cure my insecurities about my body, but it did.
Even better, it has transformed me into a more confident person, which Joe loves. And it has helped to strengthen our bond.
So, listening to my friends’ horror at the very idea of trying nudism, I decided it was time to tell them about my various naked adventures.
I was met with a resounding silence before I was bombarded with a flurry of questions.
Did anyone try to pick you up? Did the men become aroused? What about sunburn? Would you go again?
‘Girls,’ I said. ‘I’ve been looking at the Clover Spa website. Who’s in favour of a weekend away? You never know, you might just find you’re a secret nudist, too.’
Source: By Kerry Hiatt; http://www.dailymail.co.uk