Shock therapy: How I obliterated my debilitating modesty.

I just discovered this little social network because I'm reading Naked at Lunch, the new book by Mark Haskell Smith. This is the first time I've joined anything naturist online, so it's kind of a big deal.

I was raised in a strict fundamentalist religion, and for years it shadowed how I felt about my body. If modesty is body shame, I was modest in the extreme. When I first started playing organized sport, changing rooms were a terror, and I would only swim not only in trunks, but in a saggy, clammy cotton tee shirt. It kept me off the swim team despite my love of the water, and generally made it hard for me to do any social activity that might involve wearing anything less than my suburban burka.

As I grew up and left behind the silly simplistic faith of my fathers, I became a more or less rational soul; a born-again environmentalist and somewhat anarchist, I developed an intolerance of the patriarchal bullies I'd known all my life. I shed my old skin and become someone new.

Except when it came to my body. I was still painfully shy, and changing rooms were still a terror. So I decided to do something about it.

Four years ago, I booked my first naturist vacation in the south of France. A believer in the dive-into-the-deep-end school, I planned a week of modesty shock therapy at a naturist resort picked more or less at random.

That first clothes-free stroll, I think we all remember it if we came to naturism as adults; the nervous anxiety, the weird sensation of wind all over your skin, the first awkward interactions with strangers. But I had chose a friendly place to dip my toe in the water; La Grande Cosse, a sunny, rather rustic collection of tent sites, trailers and cabins surrounded by wetlands a short hike past an abandoned German bunker to a lovely beach. Sure enough, over that week my modesty melted away. When I got home I no longer hesitated in the changing room, I no longer felt I had to wear pajamas to bed, and if you ask nicely I'll tell you about the time I ended up naked on a popular television programme 🙂

Modesty is a minor emotional disorder, and there's one way to get rid of it. You need to shed it with your shorts.

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