Body Acceptance Down Under

When I ran across this piece on body acceptance by Taryn Brumfitt, I felt compelled to share it with you here. At odds with her body most of her life, Taryn has set out on a mission to not only get comfortable in her own skin, but help as many women as she can learn to love their own bodies. This article is about the day she signed up for the Sydney Skinny, an annual event where hundreds of Australians get naked and go for an ocean swim. Taryn describes the way the experience changed her life.

(I have added photos to help illustrate the wholesomeness of body acceptance and social nudity.)

The best reason to get naked in front of a thousand people!

Taryn Brumfitt

“Look over there, another woman with only one boob!”

Screamed the sarong-clad stranger standing next to me.

I was puzzled and turned to her and asked, “What do you mean?” She pulled down her sarong and showed me her chest, on one side a breast, the other side a scar. I peered in the direction she had pointed, and another woman with a similar appearance was proudly walking out of the water.

I watched as two complete strangers joyfully connected with one another. No words were required, just one look of recognition, a smile and then an embrace. I was in tears, a blubbering mess. It was the purest form of human connection, kindness, courage and love and a story was unfolding before my very eyes.

In the course of one day my life has changed forever. I am a better human being;  I have experienced more joy than I’ll ever be able to express. I didn’t get married, I didn’t save someone’s life, nor did I rescue a small animal. I simply took my clothes off and swam in the ocean with more than a thousand strangers.

Much better!

The two ladies that have had mastectomies

The Sydney Skinny is an event like no other; it is the world’s largest nude ocean swim and happens each year at the stunning Cobblers Cove in Sydney. The event is a celebration of body acceptance and encourages participants to reconnect with their sense of adventure.

nudists28a

Here’s how the day unfolded for me:

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling slightly uneasy that I had engaged in a hearty feast of curry and chocolate cake the evening before. Seriously Taryn, could you not have shown some restraint on the food front before you partook in a nude swim?

It wasn’t so much the roundness of my tummy that was that bothering me but rather at what stage of the morning I would be “offloading” the previous night’s indulgences.

nudists26a

I arrived at Cobblers Cove early, filled with anticipation, excitement and nerves. Getting my clothes off in front of strangers is not something I’ve ever done. I walked around welcoming people with a smile and an air of assurance that could’ve been mistaken for confidence and bucket loads of experience in the nudity arena.  We know this not to be true.

When I got to the beach, the first thing I saw was a penis. Yep, a man’s penis and oddly, it wasn’t my husband’s. Then I saw another, and another and another.

nudists25a

Within minutes, a penis was a penis and a vagina was a vagina, and we were all just human beings. Nothing more: nothing less. Nothing scandalous, nothing dirty or creepy and nothing remarkable.

nudists18a

I eased myself into the water and immediately felt a sense of release, pleasure and freedom. The feeling of the water on my skin as I glided through it was delightful. The endorphin rush of being unclothed and doing something I had never done before was magical. This was life, and I was living it.

nudists23a

I was in the zone that, sadly, we rarely experience. I was out of the comfort zone and basking in what I describe as the sparkle zone. I felt utterly euphoric and deliriously happy.

nudists20a

And I wasn’t alone. I heard people squealing with joy exclaiming, “I never want to swim with clothes on again!” and I saw others joyfully hugging as if they had just been reunited after a lifetime apart. There were high fives, people laughing and people rejoicing.

nudists22a

It got me thinking that to effect a transformative change in a person’s life it requires an action to be taken (think Anthony Robbins’ fire walk). Water is an element that has been used as a purifier in many religions. Could participation in the event be the 21st century’s non-religious “psychological cleanse” that helps individuals lay their body image demons to rest? Is it possible to walk into the water with body image worries and walk out with an undeterred commitment to learn to love and respect your body more? I believe so.And of course there were two women chatting, hugging and bonding over their shared mastectomy journey. One of the ladies explained to me how big a deal it was for her to do the swim, to get naked in front of other people and to face her fear. But looking into her sparkling eyes after she had completed the swim, I saw nothing but pride and happiness. When asked if she would do it again, the answer was a resounding YES!

nudists21a

Amongst the thousand people who were there on the day, I didn’t hear one person judge another. I didn’t hear one person complain about their stretch marks, cellulite or jelly belly. People were just people; there were no barriers, there was no discrimination or prejudice. People were kind to themselves and kind to each other.

nudists17a

If you want to feel comfortable in the skin you are in then maybe it’s time to take the dip of a lifetime. All you’ll need is a little bit of self-belief, an inkling of courage and your beautiful, bare, pure and authentic skin.

aaa
Pin It

Naturism, A Well Established German Custom

From the BBC News Magazine

By Stephen Evans

Citizens of the former West and East Germany share many well-established customs, including naturism. But does a relaxed attitude to naked bodies mask some division over the freedom of women?

Sex in Germany, I imagine, is much the same as sex everywhere else.

It was, as we know, invented in the 60s, probably in California, and since then the techniques involved are probably pretty universal.

But attitudes to sex and sexuality and nakedness are not. And in Germany, I have to tell you that I have been surprised.

Not least when I was in the changing room of the gym to which I go.

There I was, naked from the waist down – very naked – wrestling to get a T-shirt off my head, and the T-shirt was wrestling back.

When I finally pulled the thing off, there before me was a woman – a pretty woman – in her 20s pushing her broom at my feet.

This very real vision was the female cleaner in the male changing-room. Our eyes met. I blushed. She pushed on blithely, unconcerned.

Or when I went into the local sauna bath, which every neighbourhood has.

My German friends told me that nakedness was de rigueur, so into the cabin I went to find two young, naked women. They looked at me. I looked at the ceiling.

Germans – or at least Germans in the non-Catholic north of the country – say that the sight of the nude body is completely normal – natural, as they put it.

Why, they ask, would one wear a dirty, sweaty swimming costume? And, they say, being naked is nothing to do with sex. There is never a stir or a twitch of a sexual nature.

To which I say: hmmm.

My scepticism was shared, by the way, by both the Nazi and Communist regimes.

In East Germany, nude bathing became something of a sign of dissidence, contrary to the exhortation of the Culture Ministry to “protect the eyes of the nation”.

The Nazis welcomed what Hermann Goering referred to as the “healing power of sun and air” in making a strong nation, but he did disapprove of public nudity which he called a “cultural error” that threatened female modesty.

Both regimes lost the argument. And demographics did the rest. In the rubble after World War II, there were seven million more German women than men.

And in this atmosphere, an industry grew up which was very different from that in other
Western countries, one much more aimed at women.

Germany had a well-developed mail-order industry – and it had exactly the right woman to exploit it.

Beate Uhse had been a pilot in the Luftwaffe – as a woman she had not been allowed to fight but she did pilot planes to the front line.

After the war, as the daughter of a doctor, she was beset by friends who wanted to know how not to get pregnant.

My East German female friends tell me that the independence of women continued in the East of the country far more than in the West”

She started providing them with condoms and with advice on how she thought men could be kept happy. It became what is still one of Germany’s most successful businesses.

All this has been described by the historian Elizabeth Heineman, who told me that because the business was mail-order, women were not inhibited from buying.

Particularly in the catholic South, they would not go into a shop but they would order from a catalogue.

Elizabeth told me that German women emerged from the war particularly independent and strong because the absence of men was so stark, but in the west of the country traditional roles were gradually re-asserted.

Not so, though, in East Germany.

Simone Schmollack writes for the Tageszeitung and a magazine – a women’s magazine – called Die Magazin which was founded in 1929 and continued in East Germany throughout the years of Communism.

Tourists look through remaining section of Berlin Wall Do cultural differences remain 20 years after the Berlin Wall fell?

She told me that women in the East – and she was one – had genuine economic independence and that gave them a strength in their relations with men.

Now that the Wall is down, cultural frictions are emerging.

Here is the way she put it: “When Western men go out with Eastern women, they – the men – sometimes have problems.

“Eastern women are so cool, the Westerners think. So independent. So free with sex. But then they want them to be stay-at-home, too”.

So speaks an East German woman.

With such a mix of regimes and attitudes and cataclysmic shocks to relationships, there is confusion in the unified Germany over the roles of men and women.

Nowhere more so, I think, than when a sweaty, naked Brit strays into a gym or a sauna bath.

Photographs added by Martin.

Pin It

Nudity and the Free Enterprise System

This article is from South Africa’s Times Live.

The photographs were added by me. It seems more people than ever are figuring out how much fun and how invigorating it is to get naked.

*     *     *

From naked computer technicians to a concert where the audience — and musicians — are all in the buff, South Africans are embracing whipping their kit off two decades after the fall of apartheid’s stuffy rule.

Membership of the South African Naturist Federation (Sanfed) is growing briskly, from 130 people in 2009 to around 8,000 today, and attitudes are relaxed enough for a new all-naked business to draw bookings. “Twenty years ago nudity was very much a taboo and people didn’t really speak about it, whereas nowadays times have changed,” said Sanfed chairman Carrington Laughton.

Public nudity in South Africa is not legal, despite a decades-old blind eye on certain beaches and at certain resorts, but attitudes are now more accepting since the once-isolated nation opened up after democracy in 1994. “The general approach that the previous political regime had was a very conservative one, it was a very very conservative bunch of people running the country and as a result, certain things were not allowed,” said Laughton.

“And with the changes that have happened, obviously all of that nonsense has fallen away and that which hasn’t fallen away completely has very much taken a back seat.” Around a quarter of Sanfed’s registered members are black, figures Laughton would like to grow, and up to 60% is male. Most white members are Afrikaners.

Prompted by the fast-growing numbers, Briton Mark Taylor, who with his wife has a naturist hotel in Greece and a naked sailing business, opened a dedicated family resort Vasnat near Cape Town in December.

Summer bookings were overwhelmingly international — 79 percent Europeans and 21% local — but South Africans are warming to the idea, he said. “I was extremely surprised at the local interest,” said Taylor, who said a Sunday concert even saw the non-naturist band strip off in the second set.

Equating sex with no clothes is the biggest misconception that the lifestyle faces, he added.

“People think we’re all here having sex,” said Taylor, even though public amorous shows usually lead to an immediate booting-out.

“And that is so far away from the truth — there is no sexual vibe about it, it’s not sexual, it’s not erotic, it’s just people enjoying being in the sun without their clothes on.” Also seeing gain in a “less is more” approach, Cape Town resident Jean-Paul Reid in January started a company whose chef hiring policy is a willingness to work in the nude, or mostly so.

The 29-year-old has signed up more than 75 part-timers with diverse services onto his au natural books — from a computer technician to a law student — after failing to find work in his accounting field. Continue reading

Pin It