How would you react if everyone was naked except you? Would you strip down, or be the oddball? Reporter Kelsey Fletcher gives it a go at the Manawatu Naturist Club.
Call it what you want - going nudey, being natural or taking a clothes-free approach. I went starkers with a group of naked individuals for afternoon tea, and it wasn't too bad.
A visit to the Manawatu Naturist Club was certainly not on my bucket list - and unlikely to be had the Manawatu Standard's Give it a Go series not provided the opportunity.
I'll be the first to admit the idea was daunting, but I was curious. Is being naked a conversation killer for these people? What motivates them to strip down in front of others? And, isn't it weird?
There were many awkward questions throughout the day, the first before I had even left my house.
Organising my arrival was one to giggle at. Do you drive to the club naked, or turn up in your clothes? Turns out that one is pretty common, and I'm not the first to have asked.
Or, where do you look? Does everyone wax? And the obvious, where can't the sunblock go?
For everyone closing the book already, don't be shy, those are frank questions for anyone looking to take up membership at the club.
Naturism is a social activity or a get-together, like camping, for the 50-odd members who regularly get their kit off. Clothes are just a nuisance. They get naked because it's enjoyable - everyone is treated the same - and why the hell not?
Members are able to travel between national and international nudist and sun clubs, some boasting luxurious facilities. But only if you like being naked. Some openly talk about their hobby with friends and family, while others keep it a secret, fearful of how they might be treated by those close to them. But nothing is a secret at the club, everything is exposed.
It was easy to sit covered up in a towel with the sunbathing nudists - almost like wearing too much.
Was it difficult to throw away the towel? Yes. But no-one cared and no-one stared, I had bared all - even if it was briefly.
I gave sunbathing go, had a cup of tea and went for a quick dip in the pool but, by then, the sun was really starting to burn.
Overjoyed, the nudists offered me pamphlets and a registration to the club.
But I do think once is enough.
- Manawatu Standard
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