One of the most common responses I get from people when I tell them that I have been exploring social nudism is something like this: “Ohmygawd, I wouldn’t bare my flabby body in public. I wouldn’t want anybody to see me naked.”

When I explain to them that nudism helps people to overcome body image hangups and remove social barriers that come with clothes, and that nudists really don’t care or even notice how your body looks, they are somewhat skeptical. Yet, many of these people are women who decry the perfect-body stereotypes. Some even describe themselves as feminists. But they still have body image problems.

Seems contradictory, yes?

Actually, I can relate to it, too, even though I have been in social nudism settings and have firsthand proof that no one cares about the extra bit of tummy I feel needs firming up. I’m still self-conscious about it — and am dieting and exercising in an attempt to flatten it again. But flat or not, it won’t keep me from basking naked in the sun on a clothing-optional beach — which is such a great feeling! — or attending a swim event with the Ottawa Naturists.

I don’t know if we ever overcome body image hangups, but I do know that social nudism can alleviate the problem somewhat, along with others. An entry in Wikipedia has this to say about it:

Many people say that being nude in groups makes them feel more accepted for their entire being — physical, intellectual and emotional. They say that they tend to be more accepted, in spite of differences in age, body shape, fitness, and health. Without clothing, one’s social rank is generally obscured. They report feeling more united with humanity, with less regard to a person’s wealth, position, nationality, race, and sex.”