I confess that I have never been even remotely a lifelong nudist. I have been around them since the 1980s and have always had the secret urge to be one. But I was reared in a household dedicated to the wearing of clothes. My parents, my grandparents on both sides, and the community I grew up in looked upon those people who chose to live a nude life as hippies and generally crazy people.
The nudists I met, including two girlfriends who were willing to embrace the nudist lifestyle, were happy people. They didn’t care much about what other people thought about them. They enjoyed being naked, even in my presence, and the two girlfriends were both greatly amused by my embarrassment.
But what people thought about nudists, naturists, hippies, and people who were too happy was the main reason I didn’t become one in the 1980s. I was a school teacher. And my conduct and morals mattered to parents, especially white parents who were members of the Southern Baptist Church or the Southern Methodist Church. The Baptists officially disliked happiness unless you were wealthy. And Methodists are descended from a Puritan sect who frown at every instance of other people being happy in this life and not saving all smiles for everlasting harp-playing sessions in paradise. Teachers were meant to be dour, humorless, and good at discipline in their eyes. Never naked.
But I honestly did learn a little about why nudists are happier than the rest of us from my girlfriend Ysandra and the nudists she stayed with on weekends in the Austin clothing-optional apartment complex where her sister lived.
Ysandra was the first person I was able to tell about being sexually assaulted as a child. She and her friends helped me see that nudism was good therapy for lingering feelings of self-loathing. It didn’t matter to them what anybody looked like naked. What you looked like was not what it was all about. Very few nudists looked like Rock Hudson or Marilyn Monroe. Lots of them looked like Fatty Arbuckle and Olive Oyl. A few looked more like soft sculptures made out of old pillows with toothpaste holding them together. All of them were confident enough in their own skin to laugh about what they looked like naked. And changing your body self-image is what digs you out of the hole of self-hatred that the trauma put you in.
And from the nudists I learned that sleeping in the nude left you more refreshed and energetic in the mornings than if you spent the night sweating under blankets wrapped in wool pajamas. Even in winter.
This, of course, is something my father always knew, but never taught me.
And I spent most of my alone time when I was single, naked in my apartment. From about seven at night until the alarm goes off at five in the morning, I got used to not wearing clothes.
Of course I got married. That cured the naked at night thing. Nudity was against her religion. But I adjusted.
And what it all comes down to is that nudists are happier than we are because sunshine fills your absorbant skinsuit with Vitamin D. Playing naked out doors, singing songs, talking to naked people, telling stories with humor about being naked embedded in them, it all fills your soul with good feelings that come from surrounding yourself with the goodness of life that Adam and Eve once had in the Garden of Eden before the fall.
So, now that I am retired from being a teacher, and my wife has finally accepted that I am a crazy old coot who may forget to wear clothes when her Kingdom Hall friends are around if she doesn’t cut me enough slack, I get to be a nudist sometimes. When she’s not around to see it, of course. And I am happier. I am on the other side of hating myself for what once was done to me. And I don’t care if I look like Fatty Arbuckle naked.