Smiling feels good. Even when a person is depressed, the smallest smile adds light in what is felt like a deep and dark hole. One of the things I cherish about naturism is the element of joy that seems to appear much easier than when I am clothed. As I listen to others speak of their naturist experiences, joy seems to rank as one of the prime responses to being nude, especially if one is able to be nude in the presence of others who are also nude.
Being nude with others allows one to feel safer than being in the presence of others where one is the only one without clothing. At those times one is truly vulnerable and at risk. It wasn’t an accident that collectives have used nudity as part of punishment for some perceived crime against the collective. Removing the offender’s clothing in those instances is more about stripping them of dignity and protection. Then, with the message given, the sentence is then carried out leaving the offender to meet that sentence without a stitch of pride or peace that would allow the offender to endure the punishment with personal dignity. I think of Jesus, stripped like a common criminal and made to carry a cross through jeering crowds, whipped like a brute animal along the route. Naked like other common criminals punished by the Romans, he was hung from a cross. It is only after the fact, centuries later, that we placed a loin cloth to somehow make the event more spiritual and less brutally human.
However, being without clothing by choice with others who have made the same choice is empowering. There is a sense of real freedom rather than oppression. It is so easy to accept what one sees in others who trust us enough to drop their clothing and be fully present. With nothing to hide, to disguise when one risks being clothing free, one begins to accept the “self” with all its perceived imperfections. It is as though in accepting others as they really are, we break through a psychological barrier that allows us to be honest and accepting of ourselves. No wonder there is so much evident joy in social nudism. We have stopped being our own oppressors.