Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

Technically is just a word

One of the most popular posts we’ve had on NAG’s Facebook page, if not THE most popular, has been an article from The Guardian. When I last looked, almost 3,100 people had seen it, liked by 30 and shared by 11.

It’s a short piece, so I’ll let you read it, if you haven’t already done so, but essentially Andrew Welch, described as a spokesperson for British Naturism, did what he does best; communicate what it’s like to be a naturist, using words like “free” and “liberated”. Only I’m not really certain which words are his and which belong to journalist Emine Saner, who wrote it — Shortcuts is an opportunity for The Guardian’s writers to reflect on the news. With this hot weather we’re having (now seemingly broken alas), it’s possible that more people than ever have kept cool by not wearing clothes, and may have even ventured into the garden for a spot of nude sunbathing, hence the “recent police advice about warning your neighbours if you’re going to sunbathe naked in your garden….”

Good general advice, saves on the arguments later, but how do you start that conversation when people believe being nude in public is antisocial, if not illegal?

Anyway, the article goes on: “All beaches are technically naturist beaches, but naturists tend to go to specific places where they know they will find others and which are hassle free.” Not entirely true, but we shall let that pass. What does that word ‘technically’ mean? The adjective of technical, in a legal sense, it means “an exact understanding of the rules or facts”. Then why are our public authorities determined to maintain the idea that nudity on public beaches is not allowed, even illegal, on the pretext that it’s a family beach. There is no such category as a family beach; all beaches are family beaches, it matters not what the family is wearing, if anything.

Another article, published recently in London’s The Evening Standard, by writer Radhika Sanghani gave a good account of why she has turned to naturism and the nude beaches of Barcelona, where she is spending the summer. What Sanghani found was that the locals would think nothing of stripping off on their balconies for a siesta or to sunbath, or to skinny dip mid-hike in a stream. No one around her looked like a fashion model, and still no one cared. If a country as conservative as Spain can embrace naturism, even on beaches close to the city centre, why can’t we? OK, maybe the climate has something to do with it, but we haven’t done so bad ourselves this summer, so why hasn’t there been more reports of people stripping bare on British beaches?

US Model Gigi Hadid.
All copyright acknowledged. There is no evidence to suggest that Ms Hadid uses nude beaches.

I think I see the problem. No one is pushing for a change of social attitude in this country, and I do mean no one. Not in a concerted, organised way. Reliance on subjective words like ‘free’ and ‘liberated’ in odd articles here and there is all fine and dandy but will it persuade the politicians, local and national? I think not.

Technically is just a word. The law might say public nudity is legal. The Crown Prosecution Service and the College of Policing may have issued guidance to help lawyers and front-line police officers to navigate the law correctly, so only those who have broken it are brought before a magistrate. But none of that stops people from believing simple nudity is wrong in their own minds; none of that will prevent police officers and lawyers from acting irrationally in a difficult situation or prevent their own prejudices governing their actions, and as long as that is the case, naturism will only be technically legal. We need to change the way people think. Naturism needs social change.

In its current format, NAG cannot achieve its aim of bringing about social change, so we need to change instead. Change is good. Look out for your opportunity to influence it.

Reg Barlow,
17 August 2018

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14 Responses to Technically is just a word

  • I believe there are two issues that we can do something about to gain tolerance if not acceptance of our lifestyle.

    The first is that the new police guidelines are changing our view of ourselves amongst naturists that I know. Particularly when walking naked, we now choose not to look furtive or try to dress when anybody approaches. On our recent walk on the South Downs we met a surprising number of people considering the foul weather, but none expressed any concern about our state of undress and we exchanged cheery ‘hellos’.

    The second is that we have always been reticent about asking for facilities for naturism – but no longer. Over the last weekend we enjoyed a skinny dip and al fresco lunch at a garden centre and a visit to the local art gallery
    where the journalist was naked and one of the gallery staff started dressed, but was soon allowed to join in. The gallery did not deem it necessary to cover the floor to ceiling glass windows and passers-by seemed unconcerned that only the width of a pane of glass was separating us.

    We are now set to visit the Jerwood on September 15th.

    I recently went in person to talk to the lady owner about doing naked yoga at her centre in a small town just off the High Street. ‘Oh,’ she said ‘no problem for me, I swim in the nude at Winchelsea Beach where I cannot be seen. Also,’ she continued, ‘you can use the patio by the yoga room as its not overlooked.’

    I have just written to the Marine Conservation Society to offer to help clean our naturist beach for the Beachwatch campaign and that we would not have a problem mixing with any tolerant non-naturists and sent them a link to The Guardian article you quote above.

    • That’s marvellous Philip. Let us know what the Marine Conservation Society say in reply will you?

  • Only we, as naturists, can change societies attitude to public nudity and that is by being sensible, considerate and respectful.

    By that, I mean, we should use our beaches, our countryside, our woodland, our gardens etc. but keep our distance. That is not to say ‘out of sight’ or in ‘designated’ areas (which there are no such thing). When I say, keep our distance, I mean, within possible sight but not speaking distance. It gives the person(s) the choice to avert their gaze, or alter their course to avoid or encounter. If they approach you that is ‘their’ choice.

    If out walking and you encounter a member of the public on a narrow path, it doesn’t take any effort to cover up, say with a hat or a bag or something. We shouldn’t force our nudity on anyone in close proximity, as a respectful smoker would not smoke in close proximity of a non smoker. This same analogy applies to children too. People are sensitive about nudity and children, even though there is no evidence to support harmful effects, unlike smoking where children are present!

    The more people who see nudity in ‘appropriate’ public places, the sooner they will come to accept it. They may even be influenced to try it themselves!

  • I recently had a conversation with the Chief Inspector at the Police Scotland policy unit about beaches. He advised me that naturists have a right to use any beach as public nudity is not illegal. He advised that if a caller was deemed “more vulnerable” than the average citizen then police would call out and may ask someone to cover up or find somewhere quieter, but they should not be arrested. I advised that if the police deem someone vulnerable due to mental health, learning disability etc and likely to be alarmed by nudity, it would be helpful if the police explain about our lifestyle to reduce their alarm rather than rush out to investigate. He seemed to accept this.

    I think it will be a while before every frontline officer follows such a common sense approach but recognition at a senior level that we have a right to use every beach is a start.

    • I agree Juliette, left on its own it will take a while for every front line police officer learns about the guidance issued by College of Policing. Perhaps we can help it along though?

  • You make some good points Reg, but I’d qualify your last paragraph a bit. NAG has influenced social change. Maybe we can do better, and I am not averse to change, but let’s not ignore what has happened. It was a NAG initiative which ultimately led to the change of heart by The Authorities (CPS & College of Policing) making the changes you refer to earlier. It was a NAG initiative which got the academic world to take an interest in the psychological effects of naturism. It is a NAG initiative which is working to normalise Naturism in our capital city.
    NAG has always welcomed other like minded agencies into its work, but that doesn’t reduce the effect that NAG has, especially in coming up with ideas in the first place.

    • Sorry Duncan, I certainly did not mean to dismiss our previous successes, which have been largely down to your efforts. Not to forget John’s community development efforts in Greater London, either.

      Yes, I would like NAG to be even more successful and as indicated in the post, I don’t think we have the right structural format to do that, so we need to consider a change. However, rather than making the changes from the top-down, the Management Collective needs to consider one from the bottom-up. In the meantime, lets see what happens.

  • On a bighter note, there was a very positive piece in the ‘i’ this week. A female writer described tentatively going nude on a Spanish beach and loving it.

  • Hello Philip,

    Thank you for your email to MCS regarding Normans Bay. All our organisers are in fact volunteers themselves, so it sounds as though no-one is yet organising at Normans Bay. We are completely dependent on volunteers with regard to which beaches are cleaned. This won’t be because it is considered to be relatively free of litter, sadly we can’t say that about any beach these days, it’s simply that no-one has yet come forward to organise there. If you would like to organise there for one clean or more than one, that would be amazing.

    For more information, please give our Beachwatch team a call – 01989 567 807, or email them at

    Best wishes, and thank you very much for your interest.

    Ann Hunt
    Enquiries Officer
    Marine Conservation Society

    • Looks as if you’ve been given the go-head Phil (or anyone else, wishing to organise a beach clean-up). Just need to contact the Beachwatch team to co-ordinate your actions.

  • Hello, I`m new here but…

    Dear Reg.
    Sorry but, just because some people go sea/hotel pool swimming come their holiday time [it] doesn`t make them “swimmers” any more than does any singular Skinny Dip qualify one of any of those alleged 3.7 million “UK naturists” who chance an anonymous outing on a Foreign [beach] and definitely guaranteed naturist beach/complex could truthfully ascribe their names to that Naturist Scroll of Honour reserved for they who do their level best to make a habit, if not perceived duty, of regularly practicing what they preach openly (even if they would dare do).
    So it follows that needles in haystacks would be just as hard to find as are naturists on anything but those of the most definitely nudist rated UK beaches. Whilst you just might come across the odd few elsewhere on remote beach or riverside/valley lake they are just as likely to be quickly covering up cosmetically conscientious sunbathers alas.

    So we should not have any illusions about even 0.1% of them as likely willing to compromise themselves by turning out Nationwide on whomsoever`s request to make a `Naturism Lives` impact upon the average Brit Git who just might be there too, ten deep relatively. Because they know exactly what to expect.

    Whilst BN, like I`ve said directly to them many times, could and should do more to rid us of aimedly denigrating/discriminatory “official” words posted here and there but it is now little more than a de facto “Sun Club” come “Special Occasions” organiser nowadays as its falling membership numbers tell.

    It is otherwise more the `anchor of` rather than the naturist vessel itself methinks.
    Therefore we true blues (of heart, and skin half the time-mine) either have to toe the line or do our own thing and can, at least, now do so under the recently unearthed rule of mens rea which has thankfully caused the CPS to withdraw its longstanding proposal of using [Public Order Act s5] when dealing with fringe cases of hurt that visions of nudity can still cause in the eyes of `mind games` casualties.

    I flung it, mr, at BN soon after suffering as you then saw a concocted attempt to rid a local naturist-rated beauty spot of its stubborn tex-denying eponymous visitor(s) that had, the BS that is, (near) become a victim of the `don`t use it-lose it` ultimatum and had my naturist totality twice pasted on its `wide-screen`portal & P3 (not) of our bawdy local rag and its nearby sisters as the alleged aggressive {butt visible “shoot & publish if you dare” one of several otherwise naturists also claimed to be there at the time.

    I guess The Echo needed to import the photographers named authority for it to publish.
    But though tacitly at the time thanking you (all) for the supportive comments it received which, in revealing more contempt for the complainant than is victim, helped me to continue my quest. Ultimately though it was more because of the local cllrs `pulling the rug` on the scam by admitting, ahead of the CPS, that they have no legal instruments upon which to impale us anyway and for which just bluff and bluster are usually good enough when stakes are perceived as being too high for the loser.

    But, one year on, naturist support is largely, if not totally, still decidedly absent even though I have decided to avoid any Naturist drawn and/or cliff face falls, either of the material or adventurously camera wielding human kind, by moving barely a mile in a Westerly direction where there is anyway better space for all to manoeuvre and avoid confrontation as they might see fit.

    I generally avoid holidays/weekends but I do often go for a latish dip which just may turn out skinny according to the actual tex. load on the ground but, in all reality, there is little opposition anyhow, save when Millennial Mans` variable territory tends to stretch in tandem with the gals `kinis contraction under the Sun.

    He, MM, of virtual knee to waist absence when on beach, due to the several peer-pressures he feels under, is the bigger problem as he is the last of the potential Mohicans to whom we should pass on our tomahawks & scalps. I had a friendly-ending brush with some Romanian guys but their only problem was that I could tough it out while they were scared of deportation. The big loser syndrome again. MM has the same problem with his saddles.

    But he won`t be rolling-over until the years allow and so leaves us with a void full of near middle-aged-already muppets hoping for a comeback of happier times but eyeing their landing stage already and of course our most recent blend of Media mishaps.

    So, decide what it is you want (to do) and do it, but don`t expect others to rejoice nor reinforce as the still `barely` beckoning beaches lay unused but for a few capacious cossies.
    And remember of course that old adage of – “if you don`t, you will – lose it” (the freedom) that is like near all of Studland Peninsular, because we ain`t there when we could be!
    “You may see Naturists ahead” still indeed (but not for long if they keep ducking the issue).
    And such as those `invited sights` cast as slights against us that BN should deal with now, but fears it would lose an `official` Splash-Down venue in the process, I would guess.
    But do cheer up, it ain`t life and death, after all.

    • Dear DB,
      Welcome! I hope this won’t be your last visit.

      Your comment is quite long, so please forgive me as I’ve paraphrased it in order to reply to the many points you’ve made.

      You: Doubt there are 3.7 million naturists in UK because there are so few on the beaches allegedly used by them.

      Me: I have doubts too. Even at its height, BN could only claim about 18,000 members. The figure has come from the first survey conducted by BN in 2001 (or there about, I’m working from memory). The second survey they conducted considerably later didn’t even make an attempt to estimate the number of UK naturists to my knowledge.

      You: BN should do more campaigning rather than being a super sun club with a few special occasions thrown in, as the membership numbers testify. BN is afraid of being more vocal because they fear loosing a ‘Splash-down’.

      Me: One of the reasons, possibly the reason, that led to the creation of Naturist Action Group was the limited campaigning then carried out by British Naturism. As individuals, Duncan Heenan, John Paine and I have all predicted the end of BN, yet it continues to survive, presumably because there are loyal naturists who chip in with their subscriptions regardless. Cannot comment on the Splash Down events, although they appear popular.

      You: Your own attempt at local action in support of a beach failed because of a lack of support from naturists in the area, and you ended up being targeted by the local media and councillors threatened legal action, only to withdraw it, admitting they didn’t have a case against you.

      Me: Yes, I can sympathise. When we set up NAG, we hoped that others of a like mind would ‘flock’ to our call if they wanted to be activists, or at least send us a donation to help us, having said we were prepared to be the more active alternative to BN at the time. It didn’t work out that way, and despite trying to find a way to get the money to campaign, the six members of the management collective are largely self supporting.

      You didn’t say if you tried to create something semi-formal or formal, like a beach user group, to campaign through.

      You: NAG should decide what it wants to do and just do it. Only don’t expect any support from other naturists.

      Me: Given your previous experience (and ours), I don’t blame you for saying that. It is my understanding that when CCBN (later BN) was formed by the amalgamation of FBSC and BSBA in 1964, campaigning for the advancement of naturism was one of the goals. You and I, and the current EC for British Naturism can disagree, but I certainly feel that that is one objective they have lost sight of. My view is, however, organised naturism in this country was created from the top down. Perhaps with allegedly more naturists outside BN than in, it is time to find out what it is they want. We are prepared to invest the time and energy to do that. They might not want anything; just potter on and take their chances. If so, so be it.

      Best regards

  • Hello again Reg

    No, you don`t HAVE to be naked to hold a (W)NBR event, and in the case of a worthy cause, hardly bare an inch at a pinch!

    And down here its the closest to the real thing we could get past the `past-masters` who control them. But it might be worth a try as the Bo town is nicely set-out for one with loads of shared roads and pavements.

    I had composed a near equally long reply to you kind response but you might be relieved to hear that I hit `Cut` instead of `Copy` and lost the whole Shebang! But this one, reading back, is just about the same!!

    But we share similar views on needing to attract some budding nuddin`s to the piste and I can only see the WNBR `folk` as a step in that direction.

    Their `Cause` is sound and method of `ringing the bell` in ears usually glued to pieces of expensive `essential equipment` seems to work really well.

    Back in my [University/College] days when `Rag Day` appeared on the calendar we not only had the official TC parade which was as nude as the participants and A-board-baring tin-shakers were prepared to go. We also had a coach accompanied midnight start pram race from London that wasn`t too cold to bare. So perhaps try a more open charity ride to help with funding.But otherwise those years were quite frigid in that way but it was already coming clear that people in general were beginning to want change as the 60`s approached.

    Which were great! Eh? I soon took a proper one-way train ticket to London to get a life.
    At Hampstead Heath there`s little chance though of `beach users` trying to get the different kinds together as we are largely opposed to the over-riding `doggie doo fondling fetish brigade` of a local fraternity who outnumber all but the Summer Hol brigade when they arrive and who usually have their `kit` welded on anyway and just a small handful of nUts at best who then usually keep low profile – save YT + 1 (50/50) ex-Studlander I heard from him last week when seeking him out to tell of much beach & bathers photography aimed at naturists that day as well as a dunes-focused drone fly-over!

    So it seems like the local cllr “polite request” of last year that we p.o. somewhere else in effect is going to be put under pressure by the Doggie Beach Action Groupies! Its only them, us and the `beach trawlers` now the weather is on the change. Perhaps we“ll have to find out whose cllr(s) have the most clout. One of mine usually comes around Xmas time to ask if there`s anything special on local minds, other than `residents only` parking.

    But they`re all about as bad as each other for allowing what could be a great naturist-and £puller of a beach to be trashed each and every Summer. All dog shitterings and complementary litterings! And they now asking the residents to clear it up all along the D coast “well just leave the shit if you have to!”- Nice!!

    But we are up against more than just local rejection with Inter/National mobs scoring high as well.

    Too much tourism and im/migration across the piste means that we all self-identify by the clothing we generally wear and which – if it happens to be next to/nothing – means you are just `one` who doesn`t register as a person until he advertises who that person is.

    The dictionaries confuse the word Naturist with Nudist, which they define as `one` who goes naked or approves of going naked` whereas a `nuisance` is a `person` who…..whilst `naturism`, under Nature is defined along with nudism as nature-worship/worship of the powers of Nature and `nakedness` as being a primitive undomesticated condition even though linked in text to `naturalness, kindliness, conformity to truth or reality, vital power and natural health etc.`.”Or just a deviant load of buggers in other words.” Nature/ism is something we ought to have risen above! `They` infer.

    So, while we might see ourselves as a bunch of sun-bunnies who just like to chill-out naked there`s a lot more behind many of us in the naturistic way and so can relate well to the under-lying WNBR message which largely eschews the `progress` of oil-fueled mankind, even though most of us would be lost without it.

    Thus a reduction in the hedonistic pleasures of life as are pushed by BN could be a starter and the well reported appearance of some intrepid naked souls strung across the New Forest, North and South Downs and other Hill ranges might stir a few robust go-getters into trying to convince a pile of Sofa Pams & Sams into getting some of the real stuff of life across their naked flanks and permeating their bloodstreams.

    Therefore it might have to be a new brand of “Nature-Kissed” (like it?) to lead the way forward and there could be backers in the Natural Health Foods and Supplements chain of supply who could bare having their products flashed-up on A boards worn by a load of non-fuzzy bears.
    (But no uni scarfs as passports to irregular exposure this time, eh.)

    After aJump to Toolbar 30 min `flash` of sun today a `school of mid-teens boys came down and finally dared themselves into an `Arctic Dip` – with end of pier sea temp still 18C +……..

    • Hello again Dave,
      I don’t mind how long a comment is. It can be one word (rubbish!) or 1,000 word essay but it should have a point put forward in a coherent manner understood by all. Basically, you lost me after you said you though the WNBR was a step towards getting people interested in naturism.

      The WNBR is a protest not a naturist event. It might get some of the participants interested or curious in a clothes free lifestyle but that doesn’t mean they will follow it through. Plus some of the organisers, although naturists themselves, don’t want the likes of BN or NAG highjacking their protest.

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