Man sitting alone on a rock, staring at the seaMy family and my very close friends well know my decades-long relationship to clothes—I am not a comfortable carrier of textiles. The moment my feet enter my door, the clothes disappear. I am comfortable in my skin, wrinkles, imperfections and all.

I teach adult students in Southeast Asia. During one lesson I told my students I wouldn’t be around for a few days as I was going to a naturist resort and then to an island to spend the day on the beach with a naturist group. “What is a naturist?” I explained it is someone who prefers walking around without clothes. The students were fascinated.

“What do you do?”

“Exactly what other people do, except we do not wear clothes.”Three people having a conversation in the sea

“But what if you get … emotions?”

“We don’t ‘get emotions’.”

“How can you not get emotions? Why don’t you like wearing clothes? Don’t you like clothes? What do you look at? Where do you look? What about when others look at you? Aren’t you embarrassed?”

So many questions made me realize the many misconceptions about naturism/nudism. And there are many. It’s extremely difficult for an unbeliever to accept that those without clothes go around doing exactly the same things as those with them and that sex or orgies are not in some way involved.

What is this urge that we as naturists have to walk around sans clothes? Besides the irritation of being constricted, for me it is the knowledge that the skin is the largest living and breathing organ we have, it’s a sacrilege to prevent it from communicating with all that’s out there by covering it in layers that separate us in so many ways from our fellow man and nature.

Naked we commune with our similarly disrobed peers without the barriers of culture, religion, status or education. The cut of our clothes doesn’t separate us—there’s no such thing as designer skin, or casual or formal wear. We are what we are. Through our skin we commune with the sea, the sun, the wind. We understand the very nature of nature itself. We feel the moon, the stars sparkle on our shoulders, sun kisses our shoulders, lightning energizes our very beings. We are open, and in being open, we remove the need to impress, or to “live up to the Jones.”

We were a mix of six nations and skin tone ranged from “Ice” to “Midnight,” and while English was a reasonably mutual tongue, not all of it was understandable and we were slightly awkward with each other. We hired a boat (minimal clothing a must) and headed for the island where the clothing disappeared on arrival and wasn’t seen again until late afternoon when we all had to dress for the return journey.

Nude people rescuing a crab from a golf bagGone was the awkwardness. Now we were just all people—different shades and tints, different language, different backgrounds and cultures, but just people.

And we cavorted in the sea, sat and talked on the beach, separated and came together in walks, sunbathing, snorkeling and just being together. We discussed life, the universe, everything—philosophy, global warming, conspiracy theories, politics, the price of gold.

We asked each other questions about things that matter. We talked about global warming, politics, travelling, health issues, food, tourism, the ecology. We went for long walks, cleaning up the beach as we ambled, even rescuing a crab trapped in a golf bag that someone had thrown into the sea.

There’s a noticeable difference in the gaze of the naturist eye—it looks at others without judgment. When naturists communicate, you will rarely hear, “where did you get that … some or other possession?” and what you definitely WON’T hear is “where did you get that freckle/skin/nose/strange shape?” Genes are genes, DNA is DNA, and there’s nothing to be done about it. We’re all designer made. Being a naturist is to unflinchingly see the bare truth in so many ways. It’s accepting that we’re all equal, regardless of shape, colour, creed, nationality, gender or sexual orientation. And, while naturists are hell on marketers of all things fashion, they are good for the environment.

Nude man snorkelling

To misquote Biblical Job, “Naked came I into this world, naked will I leave.” And the time in between will be spent robing and disrobing, in search of that place where it’s possible for people to live the way we’re born and the way we all will die…barely.

by Keegan Wallis