AS I SEE IT
BY MARIANNE HERON
It’s not often in the current climate that a news story will make me laugh and then smile at the resilience of human nature. But an article about one of the more unexpected side effects of the pandemic did recently. The Irish Naturist Association reports a 68% increase in membership in the last two summers. As a reaction to lockdown that sure beats baking sourdough bread.
Being in the buff can be a sensuous pleasure in a nice warm home but the thought of getting together in the altogether to roam a chilly Irish hillside or cycle the by-ways brings me out in goosebumps. The story didn’t reveal if the 500 strong membership wore masks or cycle helmets during their activities but it did point out that exercising in the cold minus track suits helped to burn off calories.
I’m all for a spot of skinny dipping — remembering bathing in peat brown mountain streams and drying off in the sun and wind while sitting on a mossy stone. And sea bathing would be more pleasurable without all those contortions under a towel that you have to do on Irish beaches although that can be avoided now by donning one of those dry robes. which probably could be equally useful when slurry spreading.
But when it comes to baring all in public, I am a bit chicken. Having arrived on a nudist beach in France by a mistake where I felt foolish in a swim-suit I ended up lying on my front, occasionally taking a peek at fellow sunbathers and marvelling at the sheer diversity of the human form. Not that I am prudish; we didn’t cover up at home when I was a child, although my mother used to tell a cautionary tale about a small boy who was obliged by his parents to go without clothes even in the chilliest weather. He grew fur. The point of this story – no it’s not a hairy dog story — was to get me to wear my vest in winter.
Apparently, the rise in naturism as a reaction to Covid is an international trend and perhaps as a reaction to being locked down, with baring it all giving a welcome sense of freedom. The trend has given rise to all kinds of activities — aside from the usual — being carried on as nature intended. There was even a photo competition for world nude gardening day. Wouldn’t be tempted to enter that one, there are far too many nettles, thistles as ell as extra thorny roses in my garden.
Somehow, I don’t imagine that the trend is going to catch on with our politicians here although the Greens might go for it. Can you imagine the kind of things that would happen, someone would leak that one of the coalition ministers had applied for membership of the Naturist Association and a row would erupt as to whether the Taoiseach had been blindsided by the move.
Aside from the fact that nudism must have health and psychological benefits it’s good to promote body positivity and it certainly has advantages when it comes to sustainability.
You can’t be consuming environmentally unfriendly fashion if you aren’t wearing any clothes or compete with fashionistas over designer handbags costing five or even six figures. I do wonder, though, how naturists manage their mobile phones with no back pockets to put them in.