Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

body acceptance

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Survey of UK Naturism

Eight years ago, when we launched Naturist Action Group, we had two aims; to campaign for the lifestyle’s wider acceptance and to represent a broad range of views within UK Naturism. We thought we had a reasonable grasp of the issues involved, and we had the beginnings of a plan.

Today though, NAG is announcing what will arguably be its biggest project to date, it is an attempt to learn more about UK naturism, the opinions of naturists in this country to find out how we think collectively. Let me ask the question that must be forming on your lips by now: Why?

In part it is in response to Rayner Otter, who last year wrote an essay [H&E Naturist, March 2017] about what he saw as the future of naturism following his nine-years of observing the European naturist scene. You could say, I’m putting my money where my mouth is, for I argued that naturism didn’t need conclusions based on observation but from robust research [H&E Naturist, July 2017]. To be fair, Rayner responded generously saying he too agreed with the premise. However, as a British-based organisation we are chiefly concerned about UK naturism, so the survey we shall be conducting will be restricted to those living in the United Kingdom, or British nationals living abroad while maintaining strong links with the UK.

The other part is that it’s really time we took a look at ourselves; are we serving naturism and naturists well? Are the things we think we know, accurate. Could we do things differently, better, smarter? And finally, can we describe the British person attracted to the lifestyle in any detail?

These are our goals and while I cannot promise we will achieve all of them perfectly we shall, with your help, make a good attempt.

This survey is for anyone 18-years and over, so married couples or co-habiting partners can complete separate questionnaires, as can any adult children. Once you have completed the survey, please share this post on social media, or by whatever means is available to you, with your naturist friends and family, encouraging them to complete it too. We want as many replies as possible, from the young and old, male or female, Black, Brown or White, computer savvy or not. The more replies we get, from as broad a spectrum of society as possible, the more accurate the survey will be.

UK NATURISM SURVEY— Closing date for replies: 31/12/2018.

If online forms are not your forte then we have a Word document (.docx) that can be used either as an editable electronic document on your desk top or printed, to be used as a paper survey. Send an email to chairman@naturistactiongroup.org with the word “Survey” in the subject line and you will receive a reply within 24hours. Or send a self-addressed envelope (DL or C5) with a first- or second-class stamp to: UK Naturism Survey, c/Reg Barlow, 6 Brunswick Street, Bingley, West Yorkshire, BD16 4PL and a pre-printed paper survey will be posted to you. Surveys returned by post and postmarked 31/12/2018 will be accepted. Just follow the instructions provided.

Many thanks for your co-operation, and don’t forget to share.

Reg Barlow
18 November 2018

A couple of things…

First, a quick call out for H&E Naturist, the UK’s — nay the world’s — only monthly naturist magazine. The October edition is now out and it includes, among many great article about our naked lifestyle, a readers’ survey with a chance to win £200. If you subscribe, don’t miss it. If you don’t, why not? This could be a good time to pick up a copy and tell the editor what you think of it. Not mentioning the £200.

Closing date for questionnaires: 28thOctober 2018.

Second, a naked lunch is being organised by friend, Harvey Allen. It will be held at The Blue Lion, WC1 on the 25thNovember 2018, at 3pm. Admission will be by ticket only, which cost £25 per person. Naturally, this is one for those who live in, or around, London or as the 25thNovember is a Sunday, it could be the perfect end to a weekend in the capital.

Due to the cost involved a minimum of 40 people is needed before the event can be confirmed, last date for booking, 28thOctober 2018.

More details can be found in ‘A date for your diaries.’

Please share with your naturist family and friends.

Media Enquiry

A request, posted below as received:

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BBC Three is looking to speak to young 18-35 year old naturists in the UK who may be interested in taking part in a pilot documentary which sets out to challenge British attitudes towards nudity. Has the act of being naked in public been a catalyst for your improved body image? What would we learn as a society if we were more open toward public nudity?

Are you for public nudity but your parents are against, or vice versa?

If you relate to these issues and questions, or have strong opinions for or against public nudity, the BBC would like to hear from you.

All calls are strictly confidential and without obligation to participate further.

Kindest Regards,

Lyle Ashun     – respond to       lyle.ashun02@bbc.co.uk  

Review: The Great British Skinny Dip

Media: UK Television, Channel 4
Broadcast: 14 Feb 2017
Running Time: 60 minutes.

Screen Grab: The Great British Skinny Dip (c) Channel 4

I should come ‘clean’ straight away and tell you that, as I don’t own a TV I have not seen this programme personally but republish an extract of a post by Andy Crawford, which went up soon after transmission.

This documentary follows Andrew Welch the Commercial Manager for British Naturism creating a number of ‘skinny dip’ events across the country in order [to get] people to try naturism for the first time.

This hour long programme portrays UK club naturism as it is. Most naturist club members are older people who like camping and socialising together, but [clubs] want to boost their numbers and get more people and particularly younger people, involved.

Andrew has the unenviable task of selling ‘Naturism’ to the public. Sadly, the overall result of The Great British Skinny Dip events and how many newcomers they eventually attract is disappointingly low. [To] be fair, the British weather was particularly bad that day, but Andrew remains upbeat and positive about it all and of the future of British naturism.

The programme also follows his relationship with new partner Sheryn, who is not a naturist but [is eventually persuaded] to try it, both by Andrew’s enthusiasm and not wishing to disappoint him. [She joins] a naturist club… and participates at one of the naturist events.

Also interviewed in the programme was a neighbour of a naturist who didn’t like the idea of naturism but accepted that this is what her neighbours did. The neighbour had some serious self-image and body issues over her weight and looks, and claimed that there was no way that she could participate in naturism because of this. She was also a bit envious of her naturist neighbours who could. The great irony is that if she participated in naturism, then she would almost certainly lose her phobias, boost her own self-esteem and feel a lot better about herself. That irony was lost on her, perhaps lost on the non-naturist audience too. Especially when you consider that she was a younger woman and that her naturist neighbours were somewhat older.

The programme left me with a feeling that:
– Naturism is for older people.
– That British naturist clubs are dying out.
– That selling Naturism as a product itself is not viable.

You can read the entire post about the show at Andy’s Personal Blog but read the rest of this one before you go there.

I would like to pick up on the last of Andy’s bullet points; that selling naturism as a product itself is not viable. While accepting the premise, my question is: what is it that British Naturism and Andrew Welch trying to sell? Is it ‘just having a good time’ or is it a concept, an idea, much like a belief system. If they are trying to sell a good time then Welch and everyone else attempting to do so are up against competition with serious amounts of money and are, quite frankly, more likely to loose. On the other hand if it’s an idea then while it is the more difficult sell, other things could hang from it. As a good example of this, take a look at the website for The Vegetarian Society. There they tell you why you should be a vegetarian and even help you to take that first step by providing a booklet with recipes for meals for you to make. But that is not all the society does, they then tell the entrepreneurs among us what the society can do for them and their business. Whether you agree or not with the concept, you have to admire their ability to ‘sell’ vegetarianism to the curious and encourage business-minded people to set up vegetarian businesses to serve a niche clientele: Restaurant, B&B, whatever. Maybe television shows like The Great British Skinny Dip, however well meaning, is not really helping. On the contrary, it may be re-enforcing the views of the woman featured in the show and referred to by Andy in his blog, not dispelling them.

In his resignation letter to the INF, Stéphane Déschenes of The Naturist Living Show fame suggested that the organisation should become more like a United Nations, somewhere to formulate the idea of naturism worldwide. Maybe, organisations like British Naturism need to think along similar lines and perhaps take a few hints from The Vegetarian Society. I think NAG should too.

Open Letter to Mrs Ivo

We apologise to everyone who is tired of this issue, but we feel that it is important for the future of international naturism.

We have written an open letter to the INF President, Mrs Sieglinde Ivo calling on her to stand down for the good of naturism. It is our belief that any new election will only confirm the first and if Mrs Ivo stood down now then she can do so with her head held high, her dignity intact. Conversely, she runs the risk of making the INF a laughing stock, diminishing the respect federations have for INF and have it doubted by perhaps the most important people of all; individual members of the member federations.

The text was translated into French and German using Google Translate, and we provide them here if English is not your first language. Please forgive us if there are any mistakes.

Reg Barlow
Chairman, Naturist Action Group
17 Jan 2017

San Francisco nudity ban -update

Here’s another update on the San Francisco situation. It is an email received today from George Davis, who originally started the Body Freedom movement there, and is still campaigning against the City Ordinance which made public nudity illegal. Though George started the campaign, it was largely taken over by Gypsy Taub, and the two headed it together for some years. Sadly a personal spat between the two happened last year and they are now campaigning separately ( does this scenario sound familiar?). If I get a report of how George’s speech goes I’ll post it here:

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I’m planning to give a speech at San Francisco City Hall on February 1 — the 3rd anniversary of the city’s criminalization of public nudity. Since this speech will be about the Body Freedom Movement, I will make this speech while legally nude — as I did recently in Times Square in New York City with the full knowledge of the New York City Mayor’s Office and Police Department and with no permits required by that city. Since not everyone can be in front of SF City Hall at noon on a Wednesday, I will pre-publish the speech that I intend to deliver. It is also quite possible that the San Francisco Police and Sheriff’s Departments will physically prevent me from speaking.
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Body Freedom Speech – Steps of San Francisco City Hall, Wednesday, February 1, 2017
            By George Davis
Hi. I’m George Davis, a well-known Body Freedom activist and co-author of Naked Yoga [holding up copy of book]. I have been promoting better public physical and mental health for decades. Paradoxically, I am better known and respected among those that follow the Body Freedom Movement in London and New York City than I am here in San Francisco where I live.
For those unfamiliar with the Body Freedom Movement, it’s a reality-based movement that emphasizes the obvious fact that our bodies and our harmless, pleasurable desires and impulses are normal and natural and need not be suppressed.
You would think that a simple truth like this would be an easy sell. In fact, a majority of citizens, especially those who try to think rationally, agree with the principles of Body Freedom. However, while the support is wide, it is also shallow. Supporters of Body Freedom are

INF: another fine mess

The latest document released by the INF following the World Congress last year has made available. Somewhat in the reverse order of the stuff published previously, INF has now released the minutes of the Central Council meeting 15th November 2016 in New Zealand.

Despite the fact that the minutes are written by Jean Peters (who you would think, would clean them up as much as possible to make him and Sieglinde look good), the arrogance of the EC is obvious. They repeatedly blame the federations for the problems of the INF. You can also read between the lines and see the frustration of the two CC members (Kay and Huub) who are not part of the EC. Almost every suggestion or question they ask is dismissed. I have said in the past that the INF seems to have developed an existence of its own separate from the Federations which own it, and this is proof that the process is well advanced and wholly destructive of any useful purpose INF may have regarding wider naturism. Note the comments about dropping numbers. Does it sound familiar? Do the excuses that it is other factors, ‘not our fault’ sound familiar too. And yet, these are the people who claim to speak for naturism on the world stage.

News from NAG – Nov 2016

Don’t Hold The Front Page
What would you do on your last day? The Guardian reported (17/09/2016) that the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage marked the end of his tenure by a quick dip in the sea with friend and founder of Leave.eu, Aaron Banks, giving us this startling revelation on BBC TV’s Question Time. At first Banks described it as a ‘skinny dip’ to which Labour’s Angela Eagle said it was a terrible image and that there ‘should be a law against it’. Against what Ms Eagle? We cannot be held responsible for your own insecurities or imagination.

Picked up by Radio 4’s Today, presenter Nick Robinson interviewed BN’s Commercial Manager Andrew Welch, in which he gave probably the simplest, the clearest definition of the law, as we understand it, I’ve heard. Well done, he. At the end of his interview, Welch said ‘at the end of the day a man has gone skinny dipping in his underpants, not exactly front page news is it,’ (not verbatim). In response to the radio programme’s item, Katie Faulkner tweeted, ‘Why is there a whole item on this?!?’ I quite agree.

Liberté, nudité

banner-used-by-apnel-for-fete-de-lhumanite-2016As one of the cradles of naturism, many people believe that France and nudity go hand in hand. Well two emails sent to NAG recently suggests otherwise.

The first was from a French naturist asking for advice, explaining that Grande Cosse, a family-run naturist campsite in Languedoc had been sold and was under threat of turning textile. Not really equipped to help, we pointed them towards FFN and/or APNEL, two organizations who hopefully could be more “hands-on”. Shortly afterwards, we got wind of an open letter from the INF calling on all its member organizations and naturists to sign a petition against just such a move, without offering much in the way of explanation. Read our post, Campsite Grande Cosse, France on the website for links to the INF letter in multiple languages, and of course, the petition.

Not long after this, came an email from Jacques Frimon, vice-president of APNEL, telling us they had a stand at Fête de l’Humanite earlier this year, for the very first time. A mixture of cultural event and music festival, it’s as if NAG had a stand at Glastonbury? Stéphane Deschênes gave an explanation about the fete in his blog for Bare Oaks, and goes on to explain that in France: ‘outside of the naturist clubs, resorts, and beaches, nudity is very restricted. For example, unlike in Canada and some states in the USA (like New York) women do not have the right to be topfree. And unlike in Germany, being nude in a public park will get you arrested.’ You can also watch a video about the event (in French). Just don’t forget to sign the petition.

apnel-activists-at-fete-de-lhumanite-2016

APNEL activists doing their bit for French Naturism.

Dr Sunshine (again)
In June (2016) I featured an article in News from NAG that suggested Vitamin D could help those with heart disease; now research is suggesting it may help asthmatics too.

The research is still at its early stages and much larger studies are needed. Still according to a BBC News article (05/09/2016) in a small study, giving Vitamin D supplements in addition to their normal medication, cut the rate of asthma attacks needing steroid treatment. Researchers are not entirely sure why, or how, or if it only benefits those who are deficient in the vitamin in the first place, and this is why larger studies are needed

As we should be aware, skin exposure to sunlight produces Vitamin D in far larger quantities than we can get through supplements or our diet, so this seems to be yet another plus to add to an already long list, compared to the minus side. Even so, the sun can be our enemy as well as our friend and we should not take our health for granted. If this news article interests you, speak to your doctor first and on no account stop taking your prescribed medication before doing so.

Social Media
It is the bane of modern life, but many of us cannot live without it. Social media – and by that I mean Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc – has literally taken over our lives, and they naturally, set the rules. Even if those rules stink, we have to obey them.

Much of the social media we use is free to the end user, so to pay for it we are bombarded with adverts for things we didn’t know we needed. And it is fear of loosing those advertisers that lead the odd rules about nudity on sites such as Facebook, where mutilation and murder can be depicted with impunity, but not an artistic photograph of a nude.

In an open letter to Facebook and posted to the Authentic Astrology for You blog (not our usual fair, I grant you), Ms Hunter Hawks writes: ‘It greatly supports a corrupt value system when imagery of hacked body parts is acceptable for children in the eyes of Facebook, yet photos of naked flower children running free in a field is deemed too traumatizing.’ Later, she continues: ‘This policy also encourages shame of the body and shame of lovemaking. It slowly desensitizes our minds to images of violence, eventually making us more accepting of physical violence. The breastfeeding-only policy reminds women that she may only display her body if it’s in the ‘service of motherhood’ – not for her own freedoms and pleasures.’

Here, here.

While accepting the photography referred to by Hunter Hawks more often than not features women, it is not exclusively so.

To be fair, with social media being a global phenomenon, it is hard to write rules that cater for social morality in every country; what is acceptable in one may not be in another. But that, I propose is the problem, social media giants like Facebook are trying to write ‘one-size fits all’ rules so someone in India say, can judge a photo posted by a German or American user. However the rule is worded that Indian person is going to look at the photo and judge it according to the standards of acceptability in India. There are aspects of globalisation that have benefited mankind; this is not one of them.

With users in the billions, Facebook and its like are not going to disappear tomorrow but as naturists we can either suffer the (occasional?) inconvenience of being blocked from our accounts and post ineffectually complaining about the system or move completely to a more naturist friendly medium, like Naktiv.net. Unfortunately, we have allowed social media in general to get too big and powerful and they will only listen to us – its users – and on whom they ultimately depend for revenue if enough of us spoke as one. But how would we organise ourselves, through a Facebook page?

Leisure centre says no
A Bournemouth leisure centre refused a booking, to let local naturists participate in the Great British Skinny Dip.

Accountant David Ross told the Bournemouth Daily Echo that when he contacted the leisure centre there was no problem about him paying for its hire until he mentioned that it would be for a naturist swim.

‘I’m being discriminated against because I’m a naturist,’ he told the reporter. ‘And it’s just not acceptable.’

Following a complaint to BH Live, who runs the leisure centre on behalf of Bournemouth Borough Council, Ross said he got ‘a number of ridiculous excuses’ in reply. First he was told there would be a problem with nakedness in the changing rooms (Really!) and then that ‘if people didn’t wear swimming costumes it would mess up the filtration system.’ Whatever the real reason, Mike Lyons, director of leisure facilities for BH Live confirmed to the newspaper that they did receive a request from Ross about hiring some leisure facilities but they were unable to accommodate him.

However, Ross is not leaving the matter there. He told Bournemouth Daily Echo that he has now made an official complaint against BH Live’s management, who have broken their own code of practice, adding that he was quite prepared to take legal action against them.

While Tasmania says… Maybe.

bakers-beach-tasmanian-nudist-group

Bakers Beach, Tasmania

Meanwhile, a completely different attitude has been displayed on the other side of the world. Tasmania (or a bit of it at least) ‘could be looking at a new opportunity to boost its economy’ wrote The Advocate (21/09/2016).

Latrobe Council was set to consider a proposal by the Tasmanian Nudist Group to declare Bakers Beach clothes optional. Tasmania – according to the article – has no official, and therefore legal, nudist beach, although Bakers Beach is rated highly as an unofficial one.

The council was prepared to consider the proposal because it ‘could bring potential tourism growth’ according to Cllr John Perkins, as naturists using the beach ‘would spend a dollar while coming and going’. ‘Just the influx of those from around Tasmania could be enough to boost the local economy,’ continued the article with local reaction to the proposal said to be largely positive.

In the end, the group decided to withdraw the proposal because a concern was raised about horse riders, who also use the beach, preferring to continue discussions to get their support rather than their opposition. ‘Tasmania is too small a place not to make the most of any opportunity we have for increasing visitation, and therefore improving the visitor economy,’ concludes the article.

We know that Southampton has a moderately successful WNBR leg, but this is a protest and not a naturist advocacy group for Hampshire. Although Ross was prepared to stump up the £70 to hire the leisure facilities, the bigger picture as far as the management was concerned, was that it would be bad for business. Naturally we think that is utter tosh but can we prove it?

Ross is one man with a mission. With few groups like the Tasmanian Nudist Group in this country there is no grassroots campaigning. There is NAG, who does its best to campaign strategically and BN. There is nothing below strategic campaigning, which is hampering our ability to influence lawmakers at the national level. How we go about correcting that situation is another matter. What I do know though, it cannot be directed from the top. A local naturist advocacy group does not need to campaign for some official stamp, but they should be talking to other local stakeholders to iron out any local problems (perceived or otherwise) there might be. We, in the end, rely on you.

Amsterdam Fun

In August 2016, fellow activist John Paine visited Amsterdam for a bodypainting event held in the Museumplein. A repeat of a similar event held last year, this year’s event has been given more room for the international group of artists and models to work in. Perhaps to put this into context, it is like holding the event in Convent Garden, at the height of the tourist season.

Efforts to bring the event to London continue, in the meantime read John’s report Fun In The Amsterdam Sun and discover what could be in store for our capitial city.

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