Public nudity in Britain.
There’s naked yoga, naked dating, naked dining. But is it OK to take your clothes off in public? There’s only one way to find out…
This is the headline of a very interesting article in the Guardian that was brought to my attention a few weeks back.
‘Nobody runs for the hills’: is Britain ready for everyday nudity?
How things have changed. In 1974, when Sally Cooper stripped naked and attempted to run across Richmond Bridge in west London, she caused a national sensation. Caught momentarily in the jaws of a police dog and eternally by the lens of a tabloid photographer, she was one of Britain’s first streakers. At the time, public nudity was virtually unheard of. Naturists, or “sunbathers” as they often euphemistically called themselves, kept to the shadows.
Today, naked people are everywhere. No longer happy to be hidden in naturist clubs and on nudist beaches, the bare body has jiggled its way into areas previously reserved for the clothed, round the dinner table and on primetime TV. London had a pop-up naked restaurant, the Bunyadi, with a waiting list 46,000 strong, Last year saw the launch of Naked Attraction, Channel 4’s full-frontal dating show. We have naked yoga, a naked nightclub and, of course, naked Justin Bieber. Does this mean Britain has come to terms with collective undress?
I’m no naturist, but there have been moments over the years when it has felt appropriate to publicly disrobe. A mass skinny-dip after a friend’s seaside wedding was liberating, a slosh into the Serpentine on a sweltering summer evening was thrilling, and there was one time, perhaps slightly unwise, at a party where the drinks were flowing freely and the heating was on far too high and… nudity may have occurred.
Being naked is profoundly liberating. It’s not just the physical feeling of the air, sun or sea over your entire body: there’s a psychological release, too. When you shed your clothes, many social pressures also somehow fall away. A 2015 survey by British Naturism, the national society for social nudity, found that practising naturists had higher self-esteem and body confidence.