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24 September 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - North East: Monday 30th September, 2004

NATURISTS

Naturist walkers

Inside Out's Chris Jackson goes behind the closed doors of one of the region's naturist camps. So what's it like getting your kit off? Chris Jackson reveals the bare truth about naturists.

I can’t really recall when I first became embarrassed about being seen naked.

I do remember cringing in the corner as a teenager every time my dad got out the old Super 8 projector to play back scenes of me as a toddler.

He would conjure up flickering images of me clambering around in the sand in the nuddy and regularly inflict them on perfectly respectable relatives. It was humiliating.

The bare truth

There is something about the way we’re brought up that instill in us a fear of being naked, that it is somehow dirty to be seen without your clothes on.

Naturist picnic
Naturists enjoy the outdoors

Heaven forbid that our parents who looked after us all those years should catch a glimpse of us in the altogether in later life.

Nakedness is a taboo that most of us only break with a new partner.

It seems that as adults the only occasions where we take our clothes off for any length of time is to have a bath or have sex - either way it’s something that should be kept private and if observed would somehow be shameful.

Maximum exposure

So why on earth would I want to take my kit off in front of strangers?

I wouldn’t but when the Inside Out office came up with the brainwave of exploring the modern day lives of naturists, I really didn’t have much choice.

Chris Jackson by pool
The camera never lies

It was a challenge that had to be met. I couldn’t hide any faults that my body had accrued over the last 40 years.

Yes, I went back to the gym, yes I tried to eat less, but who the hell was I trying to kid?

The camera never lies and I couldn’t pull out now could I?

The bare essentials

Margaret and Derek made me feel quite at ease once I’d got inside the nudist camp.

Naturist Derek
Derek shows me the ropes

They’d been stripping off for decades but as leading members of the naturist community they were only too aware that newbie nudies need to be given time and space to shed their clothes for the first time.

It was a cool day and even naturists wrap up when the temperature drops.

But it was just this side of “kit off” and so the scenes you see on the box are real.

No trick photography, no stiff drink to calm the nerves, no going back. It was my baptism and I was about to see the light.

The first time ...

The first few minutes are awkward. I'm sitting round a table with two totally naked people. In the background families are preparing lunch, doing some gardening, chatting away - everyone in the buff.

It’s as if I’d been given a pair of those X-ray specs they used to advertise in comics.

Naturist walkers
Getting back to nature

You’d expect everyone to have honed bodies, not true.

To me that was the best bit - no one gives a damn what you look like. Fat or thin, muscle-bound or puny, young or old.

After half an hour or so you become so immune to everyone’s nakedness and you wonder what on earth all the fuss is about.

Undercover

They are still a secretive bunch though. Several families left when they knew we were arriving with our camera.

Chris Jackson with naturists
Chris gets into the swing of things at the naturist camp

Others are only ever known by their Christian names for fear their neighbours or work colleagues find out.

Most of us “textiles”, as they like to call us non-naturists, are now used to seeing naked bodies on holiday beaches.

I can’t quite understand why naturists still feel obliged to huddle in remote northern camps with high fences and secret addresses.

The bottom line

So was it worth taking my clothes off?

TV reporters the world over will vouch for the fact were it not for the camera they wouldn’t have had a tarantula crawling over their hands or be walking the tightrope at the circus. It’s a strange kind of dutch courage.

More to the point would I become a naturist? The answer has to be no. Not because I would be embarrassed anymore.

The bottom line is that their freedom comes at a price - they lock themselves away to be free. It’s a mad old world isn’t it.

See also ...

On the rest of the web
British Naturism Association
Naturism in the UK
Naturist web sites
Tando Tyneside club
Solway Cumbrian club

Single naturists

Naturist holidays
Stop segregation group
Nakedness in public places
Three Rivers Club
NUFF

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