*WARNING: Contains censored images of nudity*
A skinny-dipping couple who enjoyed lockdown doing everything from fishing to yoga and sipping cocktails in The Bare Arms virtual pub – entirely in the buff – told how the pandemic has boosted membership of British Naturism by 300 percent.
With the organization now boasting its highest numbers since 2014, enthusiastic members Donna and John Price say naturism is the next obvious step for people who are working from home and ditching their business suits for casual wear.
Donna, 55, of Spilsby, Lincolnshire, England, who discovered naturism with John, 70, when they stumbled across a naked beach during a holiday in New Zealand in 2010, said:
“Lockdown has given British Naturism a really fabulous opportunity."
Donna mowing the lawn in the nude (PA Real Life/J Price)
“We've seen people go from dressing down to work from home to not wearing anything at all."
“It is important that, if you are curious about naturism, you try it first in the comfort and privacy of your own home, so with so many of us spending all our time at home, we have seen a huge surge in interest."
“The site currently has the highest membership since 2014 – and it's still rising."
Donna and John relaxing at home (PA Real Life/J Price)
Since first shedding their clothes on the New Zealand nudist beach a decade ago, the Prices have become such committed naturists that they even moved from Kent to their current home last year, as they wanted more privacy to strip off.
And, since restrictions were imposed to fight the pandemic, they have loved skinny-dipping together in the North Sea, taking part in naked yoga classes on Zoom, and raising a glass in their birthday suits at their virtual pub.
Recalling how her own love affair with nudity began, former office clerk Donna, a volunteer campaign coordinator with British Naturism, will never forget the day when she and John, a retired signaling tester, first enjoyed being liberated from their clothes.
Donna prepping some dinner (PA Real Life/J Price)
Together for 25 years, in 2010, they took a four week once-in-a-lifetime vacation to New Zealand, discovering a nudist beach while exploring Waiheke, an island off Auckland, and – despite only then used to stripping to shower or enjoy intimacy – they gave it a go.
Reminiscing about her first skinny-dip in the Pacific Ocean, Donna said:
“Liberating is definitely the word."
But it was not until 2016 that they finally embraced naked living back home in the UK.
Donna skinny dipping in the North Sea (PA Real Life/J Price)
“If it was a particularly warm summer, we would occasionally go into the garden to sunbathe naked, but our old house in Ramsgate, Kent, was quite overlooked."
“We didn't want to offend the neighbors, so it was a rare occurrence."
“Then, after a scorching summer in 2016, we decided we couldn't bear to be in clothes any longer."
John fixing up his bike (PA Real Life/J Price)
Since then, Donna and John have been proud naturists, spending most days dressed only in their birthday suits and doing everything from gardening to baking and household chores in the all together.
And her naked escapades are a hit on social media, where photos she has posted of her exploits have attracted more than 10,000 followers to her account, Naked Freestyler.
“One day, after I finished baking a loaf, I decided to put the photo up on Twitter. I even did step-by-step instructions, along with photos, and it ended up being picked up by internet users all over the globe."
“As well as baking and gardening, we also do the majority of our decorating naked."
“Painting walls is perfect without wearing clothes – no chance of making them messy and all the paint showers off. It really goes to show that everything you can do dressed, you can do naked."
Rather than dampening their enthusiasm, since the nationwide lockdown in March, they have found a wonderful new community of naturists in cyberspace.
Donna doing some ironing – a task she seldom needs to perform (PA Real Life/J Price)
Enjoying online British Naturism events, after several in-person meetings were canceled, Donna explained:
“As the events are virtual, they are open to people from all over the world, so we've met naturists we probably wouldn't otherwise have crossed paths with."
“We've been doing all sorts during lockdown – yoga sessions, coffee mornings, cooking classes, life-drawing, discussion panels and evening drinks – all virtual and all naked."
“It's really brought a community together. In a time where none of us could go out into the real world, it's helped us to stay connected."
Donna doing some gardening (PA Real Life/J Price)
As lockdown measures eased and people were able to enjoy walks and even day trips again, the couple also embarked on naked rambles, nude fishing trips and skinny-dips.
“I usually swim in my local pool, but obviously that has been closed, so I've taken to swimming in the North Sea instead."
“Sometimes the water is pretty cold, so people often ask me, 'You must have been freezing, did you have a wetsuit?'"
Donna on the beach (PA Real Life/J Price)
“When I tell them I wore nothing at all they just laugh. Swimming naked really is amazing. There's nothing else quite like it," she continued.
“It makes you question why we wear swimming costumes or trunks at all. They don't keep you dry or warm, so what purpose do they serve?"
Sadly, though, despite a surge in naturism at home, Donna and John still fear people have reservations about it more generally.
Donna doing some vacuuming (PA Real Life/J Price)
“Ignorance creates stigma and thousands of years of social conditioning isn't going to be wiped out overnight," said Donna.
“People worry about their friends, colleagues, family or neighbors finding out and having a negative opinion about them being naturists.
“That's why at British Naturism we have a campaign called Just One Person, which is about speaking to people outside the community and enlightening them to what it is all about."
John doing some fishing (PA Real Life/J Price)
“With women, especially, body image can be a big thing holding them back. There are too many airbrushed models in magazines creating a negative self-image," she added.
“I always say to people, 'I can't explain how naturism feels – try it for yourself. Only then will you realize how empowering it is.'"
Now, the couple are such converts that they say they feel uncomfortable when they wear clothes.
Who knows you are a Naturist?— British Naturism (@British Naturism) 1600413218.0
By sharing their story, they hope to encourage anybody who is curious about naturism to give it a go.
Donna, who only irons clothes every three or four weeks and rarely needs to do any significant laundry, said:
“We understand it can feel daunting, but within 15 minutes of stripping off, you'll realize that nobody is staring at you."
“It's well known that naturists are very friendly and honest people and very relaxing to be around. There are no designer suits to hide behind. You could be talking to a road sweeper or a financial broker. Nudity really is a great leveler."
Donna fixing up her bike (PA Real Life/J Price)
Echoing his wife's sentiments, John recommends that anybody interested in naturism should first try out being naked at home, where they feel comfortable.
“It's about getting used to not wearing clothes. Getting dressed after a shower in the morning is automatic for some people, so it takes a while to unlearn. But if you don't get dressed in the first place, there's not the worry that comes with getting undressed."
“At home, we rarely put on clothes at all. If we ever do go out somewhere, we can't wait to get back inside and get undressed. Some clothes just aren't made to be worn."
Donna and John (PA Real Life/J Price)
Andrew Welch, a spokesman for British Naturism, confirmed that the organization has seen a 300 percent rise in new membership sign-ups since lockdown began.
“We've seen an exponential rise with people both coming in from overseas and former members rejoining. Lots of them have praised our online events program."
“I believe the surge in sign-ups is for a combination of reasons. Firstly, the whole taboo around nudity is eroding. As the decades have gone by, we've become less prudish and repressed."
Donna repainting her shed – a chore she says is easier done naked (PA Real Life/J Price)
“Twenty years ago, to sit at a dinner party and talk about going to a nude beach might have raised some eyebrows, whereas now, nudity isn't that scary subject anymore. Attitudes are changing. People may not call themselves naturists but are increasingly doing nude things and not thinking too much about it," he continued.
“Secondly, during lockdown, the weather was really good and with people not having to get up in the morning and put on a suit and tie or uniform, they were more relaxed about what they were wearing, or in many cases, not."
“Finally, British Naturism were doing so many online events that there was plenty to get involved in, no matter whereabouts in the world you were."