My heart was beating fast, my mind was whirling with questions and my emotions were at an all-time high. It was 1996 and I was driving my friend and her sister to Byron Bay. They had chosen the accommodation - a nudist community- and as we approach Byron, they decide to tell me where we will be staying.
I'm not pretty, and I have body issues like everyone else. Aside from that, I don't like being railroaded. So my first experience with nudity was tumultuous. I was angry that I was not given a choice. I didn't like the rule of 'no clothes allowed'. I didn't like that it was sprung on me without my agreement. I point blank refused to take my clothes off (a sarong) and wore it in the sea as well. The first day, I was frowned upon, but when the commune realised that I was no pervert, they accepted me well enough. Besides, how much can you hide of your body in a skimpy sarong, wet and clinging to your every roll!
But I did discover that I didn't care a fig if you wore clothes or not. I still partied with these lovely hippies into the night, and swam at their private nudist beach during the day. I realised that nudity is a great equaliser. Body image, ego, all out the door. Your attention is wholly on the face, the eyes, the words, the personality.
I have forgiven my friend for her cheeky prank. It was that experience that showed me the benefits of being nude. Connotations of sexual activity and perversity exist in the dirty minds of those who propagate them.
As I get older, I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin. I have less washing, I buy fewer clothes, contribute less to the plastic problems in the sea (so much textile is plastic), use less water, and get a great all-over tan. I don't set out to flaunt it around others, but to be honest, sometimes I simply forget that I am not wearing anything.
Moral of this story? If you are coming by for a visit, make sure you call me first or you might just get an eye full!