Are you curious about nudism, but concerned that you’ll be judged negatively? Shame can be a powerful deterrent to nudism. At Everything To Sea, we believe that there’s a deeper purpose to shedding off clothes: Being naked is a way to practice self-acceptance. There comes a time when we have to question from where shame around nudity stems. Also, who or what perpetuates it… and why? Some of these answers are candidly expressed, in an article we found on British Naturism.

As a newish Naturist I have been thinking about how and when I share my newfound philosophy and lifestyle with non-Naturists, and one of the main fears is ‘What will people think of me?’ When I have told trusted family and friends, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but with others might it be embarrassing or even shameful? 

Shame is a powerful emotion. It can cause us to sever relationships, sink into depression, fuel addictions, and even lead to suicide. Guilt is about doing something bad, shame is a deep seated feeling of being bad. It’s a feeling of unworthiness, believing you are an inadequate or unworthy person; the underlying impression that you’ve done something wrong, don’t know enough, feel uncomfortable in a social situation, or how you look, what you say or do, or a heightened awareness of your own perceived flaws or insecurities.

Many experiences can lead to shame being a ‘default setting’: early rejection or lack
of emotional availability from caregivers; being judged or criticised; childhood trauma (ACEs) or abuse; the ‘toxic trio’ of domestic abuse, mental ill health and substance misuse. Social media is rife with sexting and ‘slut-shaming’ which impacts significantly on children and young people’s body image and mental wellbeing. Media in general has an idealised image to project, which few of us realistically achieve. 

Shame can make asking for help excruciating. Shame makes forging romantic relationships agonising and self-acceptance impossible. Shame makes us want to disappear, which can often lead to eating disorders or other self-harming behaviours. Shame says “don’t be noticed” and “don’t make a fuss” whilst we all have an innate need to be seen, heard, noticed, attended to and connected with.

But the conundrum of shame is that, as blameless victims – often as mere children – we feel so much shame for things forced unwillingly upon us. The blame for adverse experiences, trauma and abuse lies only and always with the perpetrator. Most of us manage to keep up a brave face for the outside world, learning to act ‘as if ’ we are doing ok, whilst silently struggling on inside. Finding a safe place to share some of those deepest fears, which may even be hidden from oneself, can help deal with the triggers that send us scurrying back to hide. Other strategies include learning to notice and observe those feelings, rather than act on them and altering your Self Talk – that inner, often critical, voice – to a more constructive and encouraging tone, speaking to yourself as you would speak to your best friend; kindly and honestly but most importantly with love. 

Nudity literally bares all physically but also invites emotional and psychological openness. Baring all can be a major trigger for shame, as our culture uses shame to ensure compliance with the clothed norm. But once the learned norm of clothing is unlearned, usually through the supportive encouragement of other Naturists offering a kind and sympathetic welcome to newcomers, for many people Naturism is a revelation of freedom. In a Naturist environment no-one is judging, no-one is hiding behind clothing. Acceptance and respect are the norm. There is no longer a need to be ashamed and embarrassed about your body, in all its glorious reality. The social taboos linking nakedness and sex are eradicated, eliminating shame or worry about standing out or making yourself vulnerable. 

Becoming a Naturist is an emotional ‘balancing act’, a product of developing an enhanced ability to reject and refute shame, expanding self-awareness and confidence, whilst
meeting a whole bunch of genuinely lovely people.

Have you ever felt hesitant to share your interest in nudism with others, due to shame? If so, did you overcome these feelings? Do you think you embrace a clothing-optional lifestyle? Tell us in the comments below.