Nudism Helped Me To Heal My Self-Perception

I was looking through some pictures of beautiful places yesterday – places that I’d like to visit, spend some time – and I had this awareness of the difference in how I look at these places now – and how I used to look at them.

Once upon a time, I looked at beautiful, luxurious places and thought that one day I would be “attractive” enough to go there. Back then, I “knew” that my fat, imperfect body didn’t fit in there. I wasn’t a “beautiful enough” person for such a beautiful place. So, I would daydream about one day having the improved body and enough money to have a certain wardrobe (for my finally slender body) that would allow me the right to be there. I just really couldn’t picture myself there otherwise.

Yesterday, I looked at those places – looked at this one place with fancy lounge chairs that were actually IN the swimming pool – and I could picture myself there, enjoying the amenities – in my still fat, still imperfect, wonderfully alive, fully human body. That disconnect was no longer there. I had this distant awareness of how I once used to feel – but I didn’t feel that at all anymore. I just thought, that would be fun … I’d like to experience that.

I attribute this shift in me to nudism. Not just to nudism, but to spending a lot of time at Cypress Cove Resort, one of the most beautiful nudist resorts in the world. It’s gotten me used to being accepted as I am, to being welcomed just as I am, to being comfortable in my body, THIS body, without changing a thing. Because I’ve experienced one of the most beautiful places in the world day after day – and felt totally comfortable and free whether clothed or naked, I now have a sense of myself as a person who can enjoy such things – and who deserves to enjoy such things!

It seems silly to me now that I ever bought into denying myself anything until I was “good enough.” The whole diet culture our society lives in disempowers girls/women (and increasingly, boys/men too) so ineffably much and does so much damage, limiting our lives in countless ways. When people break free of that, when we learn to love and accept ourselves as we are – our lives become filled with possibilities! Some that we’d never even imagined for ourselves!

If you’ve ever felt like you’d like to try nudism or you’d like to visit a beautiful resort, but your self-confidence is a bit shaky or you don’t feel like you’re “beautiful enough” to enjoy nude recreation and social nudism – let me just tell you that Cypress Cove is a great place for you to visit and begin claiming your power back – and asserting, even to yourself, that you deserve all of the good that life has to offer.

You can check it out here. There are many family friendly resorts around the country that you can find through the American Association of Nude Recreation – look here. And there are even more nudist places around the world. Take some time to explore and see where you may like to visit!

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A Good Doctor

I’ve been looking for a good doctor ever since I moved from Michigan to Florida just over 6 years ago. I love my doctor and my gynecologist in Michigan and because of them have sort of high expectations for what I expect from medical doctors and how I expect to be treated as a patient. I’ve tried friends’ recommendations – at least 6 different doctors. It’s a trepidatious thing for me to seek out a physician as a fat woman. For most doctors, that is all they see and that is super frustrating and dangerous.

In fact, three different doctors that I saw just over three years ago all failed to catch a cancer diagnosis because they were all fixated on my weight. I actually went back up to Michigan to see my doctors up there because I knew something was wrong – and nobody in Florida was listening to me. I’d been seeking help for about ten months down here. By the time they did the biopsy up there, discovered cancer, and I had a full hysterectomy, I had stage 3 cancer. Fortunately, they got it all with the surgery and I didn’t have to have chemo or radiation. But had it been left up to the highly prejudiced and completely incompetent doctors down here, I probably wouldn’t still be here today. So, it’s literally a life or death issue to find a good doctor.

I tried a new doctor yesterday on the recommendation of a good friend who is a nurse. Even so, I went prepared to walk out, to fire him, to protect myself. The last time I tried a doctor in Florida, the nurse flipped out when I declined to be weighed – and then the doctor came into the room and lectured me about how important it was for me to be weighed. She didn’t listen at all to my feelings on the topic, just rode over me. She was so busy lecturing me about weight that she used up all of the time and never even listened to the symptoms that I came for – later I learned all of which were screaming uterine cancer. I was so depressed after that appointment with her that I almost just gave up. I felt so traumatized that I was in tears sitting in the parking lot after my appointment. That’s when I decided that I needed to go see my doctors in Michigan.

Yesterday, when I said I preferred not to be weighed, the nurse could not have been nicer. Okay, no problem. She sat and talked to me like a human being. When I’d filled out the paperwork, there was no “health” questionnaire as in most offices. She just talked to me and got all of the necessary information, taking hand-written notes. She wasn’t in a hurry. She listened to me and my concerns – not about my health (I’m actually feeling pretty healthy right now), but about doctors and prejudice and finances. We exchanged stories, so I got to know her as a person as well. It was such a good experience!

She left and the doctor came in a little while later. If you could put kindness into a human form, it was this man. He sat and talked with me, going over the notes the nurse had taken. He also got to know me as a person and we exchanged stories. He didn’t seem rushed at all. He was present with me and heard me. He listened when I said I preferred alternative medicine when it was possible. He respected my own bodily autonomy and my right to make choices. He consulted with me about what routine lab tests I’d like to do, told me what was suggested, but left it up to me. He never once mentioned my weight. He is exactly what I want in a doctor! Someone whom I can consult with if I have concerns. Someone who will share his medical expertise and opinions with me, and will also support me in whatever I choose to do about that. I feel seen and cared about as a human being – which is so important and also so rare in the medical profession. I am so grateful to have this man as my doctor!

After one of my failed attempts several years ago at finding a doctor, I wrote the following letter (when I had cancer, but didn’t know it):

“Dear Doctor ~

In choosing you to be my physician, I am trusting you with my health – and even with my life. I need you to be worthy of that trust.

When I am your new patient, I need you to take at least half an hour to get to know me. My doctor back in Michigan took over an hour our first time together – and then a full half hour every annual exam to really check in. I knew if something went wrong with me, she knew what she needed to know to help me.

When I come to you for the first time and your nurse is cold and unfriendly and asks me some of the same questions I just filled out on your forms, I am unimpressed. When you come in and ask me a few of the same questions AGAIN, I am really unimpressed. You obviously haven’t even looked at the paperwork I just filled out. When you stand there behind your computer and don’t sit down and actually talk to me, I already don’t trust you. You aren’t treating me like a human being. And when you see that my blood pressure is high today – and assert that I may need to go on medication for it – tell me that we’ll check it again in a couple of weeks and then take action if necessary – you have completely lost my trust already. I cannot be your patient [side note: sudden high blood pressure is a symptom of cancer – and they didn’t listen to me that I’d been the same size for over a decade and had no previous blood pressure issues – they wrongly attributed it to my weight].

If you had taken the time to talk to me, here is what you would know:

*I’ve never had high blood pressure in my life. Just the last few days. It didn’t start creeping up. Something happened that set it off. I wanted you to help me figure that out. I’m not sure if it is a reaction to a homeopathic remedy I took or having my hair colored or an allergic reaction to something else or what. I don’t know if it’s a hormone imbalance or if something went wrong in my liver or kidneys or something is stressing my system. Something feels off inside of me. I know my body and I am concerned. I want a doctor that I can trust to help me to figure it out and decide what to do. Not throw drugs at me. I am a complex human being, not a couple of symptoms to be erased.

*The reason I was taking a homeopathic remedy is that my hormones seem off – I have been spotting a lot recently. Had you bothered to talk with me, you might have ordered additional things (like hormones) to be checked in my blood. But you didn’t take the few minutes to find out anything about me.

*I don’t do drugs. Prescription or other. Unless absolutely necessary. I will never think blood pressure pills or cholesterol pills are necessary.

*I believe in holistic health and prefer to practice alternative health care whenever possible, but would like to have an MD to supervise and make sure I’m okay.

*Yes, I know that you noticed I am fat. If you can put aside your almost guaranteed prejudices for a moment, I can assure you that I have a mostly healthy diet and that I am active. I have a long history with battling my weight – too long to list here – but what you need to know is that I am at peace with my body, my weight has been stable for years, I subscribe to the HAES (Health at Every Size) philosophy (and if you haven’t heard of it, you need to look it up) – and my health indicators numbers are usually good.

*My mother died of breast cancer. I do not elect to do mammograms. If you want to know why, then ask me – and be prepared to spend a few minutes learning about me.

*I am an intelligent, educated, health-conscious and aware person – and this is MY body. I would like your medical expertise, yes. But I would also like your respect – for whatever decisions that I make about my body and my life.

*What I need is your time and attention. I need you to sit down and not act like you have one foot out the door and I need to hurry up and tell you what you need to know so that you can decide what medical intervention to give me so that you can leave. I’m not necessarily looking for medical intervention. I am looking for a discussion with someone with medical expertise so that I can decide what to do to take care of my body.

*I’m not looking for assembly line medicine. I’m looking for a doctor who sees me as a unique human being. I want to feel like you care about whether I live or die. I don’t just want to be a number in front of you that doesn’t really matter. Trust me, if I am sitting in front of you, I am a little scared. It is unlikely that I would be in a doctor’s office otherwise – other than for my annual exam, which I have not because I think it’s necessary, but just so that I know I have a doctor I can trust in the event I need one. So, when I’m sitting there worried for my health/life, I need to feel like I have your full attention and like you have a few moments to talk with me and reassure me either that I’ll be okay or discuss with me what you think we need to do.

All of this starts with the first meeting. Be human. Sit down with me and introduce yourself. Put your computer down and look at me a minute. My doctor in Michigan wrote notes by hand. She sat down with me and talked with me about my life for a minute. She got to know me. She knew my relationship status. She knew I have a daughter. She knew I was (at the time) taking care of my dying mother. She knew quite a few things about my life. And I knew her too – that she was married and had two kids who were about ten years younger than my daughter. I got to know her personality and her sense of humor. We were human beings to each other! And then for my annual exams, she asked me at least 100 questions about my health history and took notes. She addressed every system. I didn’t feel under any pressure to remember what symptoms I may have wanted to talk about – because there was no way I could have forgotten. And when we were done, I felt like she had a complete picture of my body and my health – and that if I ever had a problem, she would know how to address it with me.

Now, maybe she is an extraordinary doctor. But she is what I believe ALL doctors should be. And I am looking for one just like her down here in Florida.”

After a very long and trying search, I have finally found what I am looking for! I am beyond grateful. I wish every doctor would treat their patients with this level of attention, kindness, caring, dignity, and respect. We ALL deserve that!

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Gentle Innocent Nudity

I’d like to be able to capture for you and share with you the feeling of how really very gentle and human it is to be nude/to be a nudist. The vulnerability yes, but more so, the gentle ease of comfort with the naked body without sexual agenda – just being at home in your own skin in a naked human body contains a sort of grace, a sort of majesty, a sort of stillness that is rare in a loud/busy world. Nudity creates a sense of peace, of comfort, of being gently, unashamedly human. It is disarming. It is soothing. It is equalizing. It is uplifting.

Personally, I immediately feel more comfortable and a sense of camaraderie when people are nude. There’s a welcoming. A human intimacy – and I don’t mean even remotely in any sexual sense. There’s a comfort with the self that allows other people to be comfortable around you.

It is really useful/helpful to be able to understand that there is a separation between nudity and sex/sexuality. Sex/sexuality is its own realm to explore and enjoy in the consensual agreements adults make with each other. Nudity holds its own place in the world that is separate and distinct from sex/sexuality, even though social narratives often try to program us otherwise into believing that nudity is sexual. We can reject those narratives and claim the innocent, gentle, powerfully human state of nudity as the natural, beautiful entity that it is. Claiming this space for nudity could go a long way toward healing our relationships with our bodies, ourselves, and each other.

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What Can Nudism Do For You?

A note from Auntie Kat:

I have a lot of friends in the size acceptance/body acceptance, body positive, fat activist world. I am solidly with them. All bodies are good bodies and all bodies deserve respect. I’ve been a fat activist for going on 25 years now. I’ve been a nudist going on 15 years. Long enough for me that body shame has become a non-issue. It never occurs to me anymore to think about changing my body or hiding my body. I don’t worry about what I consume or don’t consume. If I want to eat something, I eat it. I naturally like a lot of healthy foods – but I feel no need to explain or justify my food choices, my body size/shape/fitness, my wardrobe choices, or really anything about me. I am here. I exist. I’m doing my things in the world – and that is enough. I feel internally held and supported. I stand present in myself.

It wasn’t always this way. On the contrary, I spent decades trying to change my body size, trying to shrink myself, trying to flatten my stomach. From the time I was 10 years old until I was in my early 40’s, I dieted and exercised like a person obsessed. I converted to “lifestyle changes” when I’d decided dieting was harmful – found sneaky ways to continue dieting as I also tried to make fat acceptance/celebration my reality. I’d held the problematic and untrue belief for so long that if I just got the right body size, the entire rest of my life would fall into place. Looking back, I’m not sure how I could have ever fallen for such a load of crap – for THIRTY years! But such is the power of receiving around 386,170 negative messages a year about our bodies from media and society in general. (https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/386170-unhelpful-things/)

Somewhere along the way, and I think the biggest piece of all of this was becoming a nudist, I stopped struggling with body image altogether. So much so that when I now see articles from my friends that talk about how many young girls are dieting and suffering from eating disorders, and how many women struggle with body image, I feel like, oh that’s still around? It’s just not a part of my world anymore – and it’s disorienting to see and read about people for whom it is still an issue that consumes them and prevents them from living a full and happy life. That’s still the reality for a lot (the majority?) of girls/women, and increasingly, boys/men.

I remember waiting for my life to begin when I finally attained what I thought would be my perfect body. I remember all of the self-denial and grueling exercise – and how imbalanced and small my life seemed back then, consumed with trying to be smaller than my body naturally was.

Today, I look around and I see bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and various scars and other variations – and we’re all just human beings, all worthy of love, respect, and belonging. We don’t need to have different or “perfect” bodies. We are all miracles!

I look at myself and see signs of my body aging. And I’m okay with that. I’m comfortable in my body, grateful for my life. Maybe part of it is having survived cancer. That certainly gives a different perspective. But I think the biggest part is the nudist lifestyle. Through nudism, I have come home to my body. I invite you to see what nudism can do for you.

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The Rest of the World Can Learn From Nudist Communities

Greetings from Auntie Kat! 🙂

I was just reading about a nudist wave pool event that had to be canceled because of public outcry, centering of course, as these things tend to do, on “what about the children?”

Yes, let’s talk about that, please. Let’s talk about the children.

Let’s talk about children who experience safe, non-sexual nudity. Let’s talk about children who understand that their bodies are their own, that nobody is to touch them in any way without their consent, and that have strong body image because they grow up seeing and knowing that bodies come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and ages – and that all people, including themselves, are to be respected in the bodies that they are in.

Let’s talk about children who are not embarrassed, ashamed, or confused by the naked human body. Children who feel comfortable in their own skin. Children who aren’t doing inappropriate things trying to satisfy their natural curiosity about the naked human body and how it looks. Children who grow up knowing that nudity does NOT equal sexuality and who therefore do not grow into adults who sexualize people against their wills or mistake any level of nakedness as some form of invitation/consent.

Now let’s talk about adults a minute. Let’s talk about adults who cannot possibly conceive of seeing a naked person and not being sexually turned on by that. That’s a problem because that sort of mindset can give a foundation for rape culture. Nakedness is not inherently sexual. People should be able to be naked without being sexualized. When people are sexualized against their will, no matter how they are dressed or not dressed, that is a violation of consent. When children are sexualized by adults (pedophilia), that is an enormous problem. And the fact is, it IS an enormous problem in our country – and having children being fully dressed does nothing to slow it down.

We need a fundamental shift in how we see/experience nudity and sexuality. We need a profoundly better understanding of – and respect for – consent. Safe, non-sexual social nudism can play a healing role in our society. We need more people who understand and can articulate that nudity and sexuality are not the same thing. We need better communication about boundaries and expectations of behavior.

The reality is that the nude event at the wave pool would have likely been one of the most respectful, non-sexual, and safe events they ever have there. You know why? Because nudists get it and we are very protective of our women, children, and communities in general. Because male nudists know better than to leer, or make inappropriate comments, or to touch. And if adults in a nudist community see anyone behaving badly, they take steps to protect the community, including banning badly behaving people as necessary. Out in the textile world, there are lots of men who are constantly wildly inappropriate and predatory. Young girls cannot go anywhere without being sexually harassed, including church and school. If you don’t agree, you’ve never been or raised a pre-teenaged girl. And lots of boys are harassed/molested as well. We need to do better at protecting our children – but “protecting” them from nonsexual nudity is the opposite of helpful.

The rest of the world has a lot to learn from nudist communities. In the era of #metoo, don’t you think it’s way past time we started having more of these conversations? We can’t afford to allow the people who are ignorant about nudism to dominate the narrative. We need to educate!

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Just In Queso: The Philanthropy of Tijuana Flats

Usually at least once a week, for the past several years, my friend and I have looked at each other and one of us has said, “Want to go to ‘our place’?” Honestly, we started calling it that because we couldn’t always remember the name, “Tijuana Flats.” No matter who asked, the answer was always a resounding “Yes!”

So, we’d pack up her baby (who has just turned 4 and has grown up with a weekly dose of Tijuana Flats) and we’d head down the street to “our place.” We loved the food, the atmosphere, the music, the art all around, and most of all, the people. We’ve always felt welcomed, like we were visiting friends. It is definitely a happy place for us!

Tijuanahots

We are big fans of their hot sauce bar!

What we didn’t know until recently is that Tijuana Flats isn’t just a great restaurant with super friendly service, but has also given back to the community since its inception in 1995. They aren’t just chill with all of the cool art and funny slogans, they are an organization fueled by humanitarianism, philanthropy, and the core values of respect, quality, opportunity, integrity, fun, and community.

In 2007, Tijuana Flats created the Just In Queso Foundation to give even more back to the communities where they live and work. They have raised over 3.5 million dollars to help support those in need, focusing particularly (but not exclusively) on organizations that benefit children and the military.

Tijuanajustinqueso

Their emphasis on service has extended far beyond the constantly attentive and friendly service they offer in their restaurants, to countless hours donated in service to the communities that are fortunate enough to be graced with Tijuana Flats Restaurants.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the employees at several Tijuana Flats locations prepared and delivered food to those in need throughout Central Florida. They are donating 10% of all of their proceeds from 9/15 – 9/17 to Irma disaster relief efforts.
Their charity doesn’t end at home. They also hosted an in-store fund-raising campaign for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

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It makes me happy to patronize Tijuana Flats. Not just because I like their food, their hot sauce bar, the ever present sense of humor and fun that permeates all of their restaurants, but because this is a company that really cares about people and what matters, and they actively and regularly do good in the world. They are community leaders in a way that our communities desperately need leaders. And for that, I am grateful.

Tijuanalove

Now I need to go ask my friend if she’d like to go to “our place” for dinner tonight. 🙂

Tijuanahumor

Of course she wanted to go! She wouldn’t even let me finish this post! I’m back home with a nicely full belly … and this sign in the window cracked me up! LOL

To keep up with all the good Tijuana Flats is doing in the world – and to know about fun events they are sponsoring, you can follow them on Facebook. Great food, great service, fun atmosphere, and strong leadership in philanthropic endeavors … who could ask for more? #FLBlogging4Good #FLBlogCon

 

 

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Some Benefits of Nudism for Women

Some of the great benefits of nudism include a more grounded sense of self, a sense of ownership of one’s body, a sense of bodily autonomy, and a connection with our own bodies and nature that can often elude us in the textile world. And the freedom! No words can describe it – that must be felt.

The goal of clothes/fashion is often to present ourselves for approval, to make ourselves appear desirable or to look a certain way in order to please. The focus is almost always on the way that we will be looked at and perceived by others. So, in a textile world, we often experience ourselves through the gaze and feedback of others, rather than through our own connection with life, nature, and what is going on around us. In a sense, we become disconnected from our own participation in life, distanced from our aliveness not only by layers of clothing, but by the perceptions we have of ourselves through the world’s response to us, as well as our subservience to a system that ranks appearances as defining of our value, worth, and character.

A beauty of nudism is that it allows us to step outside of that paradigm and experience ourselves as vital, alive human beings connected to the earth, to nature, to ourselves. Nudism reminds us of who we really are – beyond the encumbrances of social messages of who we’re “supposed” to be.

Women, particularly, are told that we’re supposed to look a certain way in order to have value, in order to be respected, cared about, desired, loved. Most women don’t look like that “ideal”, and surveys show that the majority of women and girls are unhappy with the appearance of our bodies, ashamed of the bodies that we live in. Now, think about that a moment. Think about the separation that happens in a person when we judge and feel ashamed of our bodies. We mentally and emotionally start to divorce ourselves from our bodies, rather than fully inhabiting our bodies and feeling connected to our own humanness. We come to view our bodies as a source of pain rather than pleasure. Something to be brought “under control” – an enemy. So many of us have this antagonistic stance with our own bodies!

The resulting consequence of this situation is that people, again particularly females, become vulnerable to sales pitches to buy different products that will supposedly improve our lives by “improving” our appearance. The idea that if one looks good enough, we will be loved and will have success and security. Not only that, but women and girls also become targets/victims of all kinds of abusive words and behaviors, as well as unsolicited sexual comments and advances. As though just by existing, we invite the male gaze and commentary and aggression. The culture as is, has developed a certain level of entitlement in men and boys to consider women in one of two ways – as sexually stimulating to be used as desired, or as “ugly” and unworthy of time/attention/respect and therefore dismissed, often to the point of non-existence.

I just read a post by a friend about her 13 year old daughter being harassed at the beach by a man who looked to be in his 40’s. He told her she was looking good. She ignored him. She did not want to interact with this man. He felt he had a right to her time, her body, her attention – the right to intrude on her life because she looked good to him. He told her she looked good again. When she continued to ignore him, he started calling her sexually explicit names and threatening her. This is the world we have created, in which many men feel entitled to demand attention and even sexual compliance from any woman who strikes their fancy. A world in which a man will talk about “showing off” his wife and even sharing her with other men. As if she is a toy rather than a human being. A world in which a man will look at a nude picture of a woman that has no sexual suggestion and will write in a public forum that “someone should pump that big butt slut.”

How did we get here? How do men feel so entitled to speak about women they don’t even know in sexually aggressive terms? And how can women and girls ever feel safe and comfortable in our bodies? Not to even mention feeling sexually empowered? Because we shouldn’t have to be divorced from our sensuality or sexuality in order to avoid misogynist aggressions. On the contrary, our bodily autonomy – including our sexual autonomy – is more important than ever. And the concept that nudity does not equal sexuality and also that nudity does NOT equal consent to anything – not looking, not commenting, not touching – is essential to our healing as a culture. Also, that the value of women and girls is inherent in our existence as human beings – not in any way connected to our appearance or to our being sexually desirable to anyone.

Nudism gives us back our natural connection to our body and to nature. It gives us a sense of belonging in the world – that has nothing to do with our appearance being approved of or giving us value. Nudism strips us of the false layers of social approval/judgment. Nudists respectfully relate to each other as human beings. I’m not saying that there is no influence of this society’s values even in nudist circles. But I am saying that nudists as a group and the spaces we create tend to be healing, respectful, and safer than most places in the world.*

Nudist values of respect, kindness, and goodwill toward all people regardless of age, size, shape, color, ability/disability, and all variations of human beings – create a safe container for people to be and live peacefully. When there are no clothes, a lot of false pretenses drop away too. And in nudist spaces, women and girls are not allowed to be sexualized and harassed like so often happens in the “regular” world. Nudists don’t tolerate that sort of crass, aggressive and unacceptable behavior. While in the regular world, most people ignore it (“What can you do? Boys will be boys”) – nudists ban men like that from our spaces.

What all of this does is allow women the space to reclaim and re-inhabit our own bodies. We can become reconnected to our own sense of self and power. We can define our existence on our own terms, rather than through the male gaze. And we can be assured that the people around us understand that nudity does not equal sexuality or consent to anything. In this world, that is a huge relief!

*When I refer to nudist spaces, I am referring to AANR (American Association of Nude Recreation) affiliated nudist places. AANR membership means that a club/resort upholds certain values and rules of nudism, including being non-sexual and family friendly. There are nudist spaces out there that are not under this umbrella, who have different values and rules – and therefore not the same sort of healing benefits as I’m writing about here. When choosing to try nudism, please be sure to choose an AANR approved club/resort.

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