What can exemplify personal freedom anymore than being on a beach sans any clothing? So, you might be asking what might I have been wearing and how far away was I with my telephoto lens? I am not a practicing nudist or naturist, the two labels that seem to be used interchangeably for this lifestyle. However . . . when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Yes! I was a full participant and the photo was not taken with a telephoto lens.
The backstory for this photo begins with a trip to Florida with my friend. We had the use of another of my friend's house in a Miami suburb while he was traveling on business for an extended period. The friend I was traveling with, who I'm still good friends with, decided she was going to test me and see how much of a prude I was. What she didn't know is that I had gone skinny dipping on a few occasions before I met her. I also spent two weeks in New Zealand where the folks are much more laid back about things like the naked human body, as are people in most of the rest of the world. So, I had enjoyed several group nude experiences there as well. I passed her test hands down.
This is Haulover Beach in Miami, Florida, an internationally acclaimed, clothing optional beach. I hadn't been there before, nor had my friend, but she is an RN and very comfortable with the naked human body. She adapted instantly to being on a beach, nude, with numerous other strangers all wearing the attire we were all born in.
I grew up in a relatively conservative, northern New Jersey family. I attended a puritanical Baptist church from as early as I can remember. Modesty was heavily stressed. Nudity, the naked body, had shameful, dirty and sinful connotations. So, believe me, my first couple skinny dipping experiences were very, very stressful for me. Thankfully, while, as I said, I'm not a practicing naturist, I'm much more comfortable in my skin (no pun intended) today than I was as a repressed teenager and college student.
Being nude with other people in a situation like this is very natural (thus, the label, naturist) and freeing. One rapidly learns to accept that all the beautiful bodies we see in movies, soft and hard core porn magazines, Playboy and similar magazines are the exception. People are just people. We all have different bodies. Naturists, for the most part, at least according to my experience, are not who we may define as exhibitionists. If they were, they wouldn't allow children and teenagers to be exposed to the lifestyle. That being said, yes, there were at least a few exhibitionists on the beach. They had to make sure everyone knew they were there and focused on their usually unexposed “assets.” Exhibitionists have always fascinated me. Some time I'd like to interview some. But, naturists are just you're average person who accepts their bodies and those of everyone else as a natural part of life.
Perhaps you've already had the opportunity to experience the freedom and less stressful environment of a place like Haulover Beach. You know how enjoyable it is to strip away any facades and just be yourself. If you've never had the opportunity or made the effort to walk on an ocean or lake beach au naturel, you should. After all, all you're doing is removing those last few scraps of cloth separating you from a feeling of real freedom. And, truthfully, it's not like we all don't know what the small pieces of cloth are covering? It doesn't matter if you're beautiful or not. It doesn't matter if you're thin and fit or a plus size and lumpy. It doesn't matter how large or small or perfect your male or female “attributes” are. It doesn't matter if you're wealthy or poor, belong to the country club or dine at a soup kitchen. No one judges anyone else. There are just no facades.
Of course, I would never force anyone to go to a clothing optional beach or participate in any kind of situation, like taking all their clothes off in a group of nude people if it made a person feel uncomfortable. Like everything else in life, this is a lifestyle choice and doesn't suit everyone. I've not had an opportunity to revisit Haulover Beach since this time, but I will the next time I'm in the Miami area and the weather is conducive.
Live free and be happy. EH