Fairfield County Edition

Enhance Your Natural Beauty

Social Nudism Strips Away External Trappings

What if being beautiful meant taking off all the conventional trappings? What if perfect clothing (and hair and makeup and jewelry) really didn’t matter at all? A growing segment of society is coming to embrace a way of life that strips away the external—and feeling better about themselves and how they look.

Society’s “normal” standards of beauty have well-known damaging effects on both male and female self-esteem. Dieting fads, steroid use, cosmetic surgeries and other unhealthy activities are aimed at our sense of inadequacy as well as our wallets. Take a look at the media’s portrayal of beauty (even “natural” beauty), and you see an almost exclusive focus on what’s on the outside. We’re supposed to aim for a certain skin type (fair and smooth), shape (slim but well-proportioned), hair (long and lustrous). But this picture leaves out most of us and only stokes our self-destructive feelings that we don’t measure up.

The new face of natural beauty celebrates a world of different people—their shapes, sizes, colors and physical conditions. It recognizes that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but, truly, comes from within.

This reality has been recognized for decades by millions of people who practice social nudism (also known as naturism). They know beyond a doubt that you can actually feel more beautiful when you simply bare your body and accept it as it is. At Solair Recreation League, a family-friendly nudist resort in Woodstock, Connecticut, many first-time visitors surprise themselves. After shedding their clothing, sometimes with great hesitation, they quickly realize that no one is judging them. “I suddenly found that I could stop criticizing myself—and that I could feel confident and even, dare I say, beautiful,” said one. Imagine the relief of learning firsthand that being naturally beautiful means owning and accepting the body and features that are yours, without alteration or adornment.

Natural beauty is further enhanced by being around others who share and support your beliefs. An article in the Journal of Happiness Studies states, “Individuals do experience increases in positive body-image, self-esteem and life satisfaction after participating in real naturist activities.” Further research shows that our social networks have a profound effect on our behaviors and attitudes, including how we perceive our appearance.

“Spend time around people who are confident in their bodies, and you’ll find yourself following suit,” says Nancy Etcoff, PhD, Director of the Aesthetics and Well Being Program at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

With natural beauty, less is more—including less clothing! Now, how about a more holistic view of natural beauty? One that cares more about our internal makeup than our external, and shows the same compassion for ourselves that we do for others. Let’s work on separating what we’re worth from how we look. When you let your authentic beauty shine through, having stripped away what’s not necessary (clothing) as well as your destructive attitudes, you’re headed in the right direction.

So, how else can you feel more organically beautiful? Consider these examples, and you’ll think of many more.

Cherish your scars. “If you have a scar, you can decide to see it as a flaw or simply as a memory of an injury,” says Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Florida. Don’t judge, but rather appreciate your scars as triumphs over adversity.

Stand tall. When you pay attention to your posture, you create space for your lungs and other organs to function well. Good posture (as well as smiling) promotes a sense of authentic beauty and good health that radiates out to the people around you.

Stop trying harder. Be your own image-maker. Seeing yourself as naturally beautiful means letting go of striving, yearning and plotting to be different than you are. In fact, working to make yourself look “better” through clothing, cosmetic surgery and makeup is both costly and counterproductive.

Celebrate your body. It’s the only one you have, and no matter your age, size or condition, it’s doing its best for you. It is part of your humanity, flaws and all.

Visit a nudist resort. The very best way to appreciate the many psychological, physical and social benefits of social nudism is to try it. Make sure the nudist resort you choose is affiliated with the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). AANR-affiliated clubs, such as Solair Recreation League (SolairRL.com), must maintain stringent, family-appropriate standards of conduct for all members and visitors.

Ronna E. Krozy, EdD, RN, is a retired professor of nursing and a Trustee of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). Nancy Greenhouse has created development programs for numerous Boston-area nonprofit organizations. Both are long-time members of AANR as well as Solair Recreation League in Woodstock, CT. For more information about Solair, visit SolairRL.com or call 860-928-9174. For general information about social nudism, visit AANR.com. See ad, page 12.

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