A be­gin­ner’s guide to the na­tur­ist move­ment

Where you can get naked in Toronto and why you should con­sider try­ing it

Richmond Hill Post - - Currents - DR. JESS Jess O’Reilly is a sought-af­ter speaker, au­thor and sex­ol­o­gist (www.SexWithDrJess.com).

The sun is out and you’ve al­ready started peel­ing back the lay­ers to en­joy the warmth, but how com­fort­able are you in your bare skin? Can you en­joy ev­ery curve and crevice your body has earned over the years? And are you will­ing to re­lax and in­dulge in your nudity?

If you’re al­ready un­com­fort­able, it’s even more im­por­tant to con­sider it.

Strip­ping down and rev­el­ling in your own nudity — on your own or in pub­lic — can prove to be a chal­leng­ing task, as most of the mes­sages you re­ceive with re­gard to your body are rather dis­parag­ing. You’re taught that you have prob­lem ar­eas that you should use clothes to con­ceal or down­play. You’re told that you should make reg­u­lar ad­just­ments to con­form to the lat­est (Euro­cen­tric) trends. And you’re in­doc­tri­nated with the be­lief that the way you dress ought to be in­dica­tive of your per­son­al­ity, suc­cess, con­fi­dence and sta­tus.

But what if you were to strip away the adorn­ments and spend some time in your nat­u­ral state?

The re­sult, ac­cord­ing to re­search and na­tur­ists them­selves, would be an im­prove­ment in body im­age and over­all con­fi­dence.

“We use cloth­ing as a shield to project a cer­tain im­age. We be­lieve so strongly in the power of what we wear that we are never fully com­fort­able with our true self,” ex­plains Bare Oaks Fam­ily Na­tur­ist Park owner and host of

The Na­tur­ist Liv­ing Show podcast, Stéphane Deschênes.

“When nude, we are forced to accept who we re­ally are. And we even­tu­ally re­al­ize that there is no ideal. With that new self­con­fi­dence, we present our au­then­tic selves and accept oth­ers more eas­ily for who they are.”

When you cover up in re­sponse to body in­se­cu­rity, you ex­ac­er­bate the prob­lem be­cause you avoid con­fronting it. So if you want to re­ally love your body, con­sider get­ting naked with one of the many op­tions in the GTA.

A na­tur­ist park like Bare Oaks, lo­cated just north of Toronto in East Gwillim­bury, may be the best place to start for first-timers. The park’s poli­cies and un­der­ly­ing phi­los­o­phy man­date re­spect and safety. Sex­ual ac­tiv­ity and ad­vances are strictly for­bid­den. Star­ing and unau­tho­rized pho­tog­ra­phy are dis­al­lowed. Ha­rass­ment of any kind is im­me­di­ately ad­dressed, and mem­bers en­sure a wel­com­ing, safe en­vi­ron­ment. And though it’s a dis­tinctly non-sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence, as you spend more time naked, you’ll likely find that your sex life im­proves, as peo­ple with a bet­ter body im­age have more fre­quent and sat­is­fy­ing sex.

Bare Oaks at­tracts both na­tur­ists and nud­ists. The for­mer tends to re­fer to a life phi­los­o­phy that em­pha­sizes re­spect for self, oth­ers and na­ture. Be­ing nude is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of this phi­los­o­phy along with min­i­miz­ing the im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. Nud­ists may prac­tise nud­ism more recre­ation­ally but not em­brace na­tur­ism as a life phi­los­o­phy.

Down­town res­i­dents Miguel and Clau­dia ex­plain that they were shy at first but de­cided to visit a nud­ist park eight years ago out of cu­rios­ity.

“The peo­ple were reg­u­lar folks lead­ing nor­mal lives and with var­i­ous types of bod­ies,” ex­plains Miguel. “We found that be­ing in the nude placed us all on the same level and that be­ing naked in front of oth­ers made us feel very com­fort­able and proud of our bod­ies. We wor­ried less about the la­bels and clothes that ev­ery­one had on and paid more at­ten­tion to the peo­ple them­selves and the en­vi­ron­ment we were in.”

If you pre­fer to stay closer to home, con­sider con­nect­ing with na­tur­ist groups like the GTA Skin­ny­dip­pers, who ar­range nude swims at both in­door and out­door fa­cil­i­ties, or the Toronto Area Na­tur­ist Sports and Swims (TANS) group, which co­or­di­nates nude vol­ley­ball matches and more. The World Naked Bike Ride takes place in Toronto on June 9, start­ing at Coro­na­tion Park with so­cial­iz­ing and body paint­ing.

Mul­ti­ple pri­vate en­ter­prises like saunas, bath­houses and spas also al­low nudity, and though nudity is not in­her­ently sex­ual, sev­eral clubs combine cloth­ing-op­tional en­vi­ron­ments with erotic events and en­ter­tain­ment. The pool at Oa­sis Aqualounge, for ex­am­ple, is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., and some peo­ple re­port that vis­it­ing af­ter dark can help to ease them into the ex­pe­ri­ence.

You can also ex­plore clothin­gop­tional spa­ces on your own by vis­it­ing Han­lan’s Point or the un­of­fi­cial ar­eas of Beech­grove beach (East Point Park) and the west end of the beach in the Scar­bor­ough Bluffs. If you’re not com­fort­able strip­ping down at first, that’s OK. Just be sure to be re­spect­ful of those in the buff. Don’t stare, gawk, make com­ments or take pho­tos.

Even spend­ing a few min­utes naked in the pri­vacy of your home is a good start to achiev­ing some of the goals of the na­tur­ist phi­los­o­phy: ac­cep­tance of self, re­spect for oth­ers and liv­ing a more nat­u­ral life.

Strip down at Han­lan’s Point or the un­of­fi­cial ar­eas of Beech­grove beach

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