WARNING: CONTAINS NUDITY
A first aid trainer who hit rock bottom when she found herself virtually friendless at 49 after a major relationship ended and she lost her job with the ambulance service, has revealed how stripping off at a naturist hog roast party changed her life.
In May 2016, alone “for the first time ever," Jane Baker, now 52, of Carmarthen, South West Wales, admits she was rescued from her “midlife crisis" when she spotted an ad in a local newspaper for a bash at a naturist B&B; and decided that daring to bare could widen her social circle.
Jane, who does not want to name the ex she spent six years with, said: “I was down on my luck, my four kids had fled the nest and I came to the realization that I had about two people in my life I could call real friends."
Jane wearing clothes (PA Real Life/Collect)
She added: “Flicking through the papers, looking for a holiday in the countryside, I saw an advert for a naturist weekend away and thought to myself, 'Why not?'"
Arriving at the Acorns Naturist Retreat in Tiverton, Devon, and walking out into the grounds, for the first 10 minutes she nervously held on to her dressing gown and sarong.
But, when she plucked up the courage to bare all, it became a defining moment from which she has not looked back.
Jane in the nude by a river (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I stuck out like a sore thumb when I arrived, surrounded by three dozen or so strangers, all completely nude, but after I whipped off my clothes I felt the most comfortable I had in years," she said
Now mom-of-four Jane, who wants her children to remain anonymous, only wears clothes when “absolutely necessary" and is hoping to encourage more single women to join the naturist movement and “embrace their bodies," like she has.
Jane, whose confidence was at an all-time low, after being made redundant and her relationship ending, will never forget her first foray into nudity.
She said: “Everything seemed to be going wrong at the same time and I knew I wanted to get away from it all, but I couldn't afford a holiday abroad so decided to look for somewhere closer to home, which was when I found Acorns.
“Driving down there I had to pull over twice and collect my thoughts – I was nervous beyond belief.
“When I finally got there it turned out to be one the most surreal moments of my life. On one side of me was a woman absolutely starkers doing her knitting by the pool, on the other side of me was a gentlemen in the buff doing the Telegraph crossword."
Jane having a selfie (PA Real Life/Collect)
“But the thing that struck was that, after 10 minutes, I completely forget that everybody was naked and started seeing people for who they are," she continued.
“That's the beauty of naturism. When you take your clothes off you're quite literally taking away the barriers and that's the best way to meet new people."
Despite some raised eyebrows from loved ones when she first told them of her adventures in the altogether, while people have called her “bonkers" they are also delighted by the positive change in her and understand that naturism suits her larger than life character.
Jane on a motor bike (PA Real Life/Collect)
“One of my daughters wasn't too keen on the idea, but it didn't take long for her to see the change in me and she's realized I'm the happiest I've ever been," said Jane.
And while at first, she just enjoyed occasional naturist weekends, by 2018 she decided to go naked as often as she could.
“It got to the point where I found I didn't physically want to be constrained by the clothes I was in," she continued.
She added: “If I'm at home I'll almost always be in the nude – unless it's a particularly chilly day."
She also enjoys regular skinny dips and naked rambles with like-minded friends.
“There's nothing more liberating than being out in the middle of nature without the constriction of clothes," she said.
“People are always shocked that you're allowed to be out in the open naked, but we're not perverts, it's completely legal to be out and about in the nude as long as you're respectful of other people."
With her newfound love of nudity, Jane, who started a new job in August 2018, is also keen to change people's attitudes and challenge outdated views that it is always sexual.
“We're still very much of the mindset that being naked is something sexual, but that really isn't the case," she said.
Jane camping in the buff (PA Real Life/Collect)
Jane added: “I've been to dozens of naturist events up and down the country and there has never been anything remotely sexual about it at all.
“Yes, sometimes people's bodies will react in a certain way, especially men, when they see certain stimuli, but that's something that happens and it is always laughed off and followed by a brisk cold shower."
Meanwhile, baring all has helped Jane to accept her own body – with all its lumps and bumps.
She said: “It's one of nature's cruel jokes that women's bodies change so much over the years. One day everything is pert and pointing upwards, the next you've popped out a few children and it's all hanging around your knees.
“When you're a 'textile' – someone who wears clothing full-time – the only people you see naked are film stars, but as a naturist you see that everybody has different body shapes and that's completely normal.
“Our bodies tell a unique story and that's something that should be embraced."
But, despite finding nudity liberating, Jane, who has just returned from Europe's largest naturist festival, Nudefest, in Thorney Lakes, Somerset, says she is still in a minority as a single woman at events.
“I want to break down the stereotype that naturism is for couples or single men looking to get some action," she said.
“We're not swingers, we're going back to our roots and embracing the skin we were born in."
She continued: “To anyone out there considering naturism, especially single women, I implore you to just give it a try, as you won't regret it.
“I'm a size 18, middle aged woman and I've never felt more confident in my own skin.
“And I've made more friends over the past three years than I have in the past three decades."
Jane flying the Welsh flag naked (PA Real Life/Collect)
She added: “There's a whole community of loving, caring people out there in the naturist community, waiting to take you in and to get to know you."
Crown Prosecution Service guidelines concerning naturism say: “In the absence of any sexual context and in relation to nudity where the person has no intention to cause alarm or distress it will normally be appropriate to take no action unless members of the public were actually caused harassment, alarm or distress."