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The rules of going naked in public

EMMA James hates putting on clothes and tries to do nearly everything naked. She reveals the dos and don’ts of public nudity including this one really awkward thing.

Kate Schneider
February 25, 2016

If there’s one thing that Emma James really hates, it’s when she’s forced to put clothes on in order to leave the house.

Because for her — and thousands of others around the globe — being naked in public is a freeing and natural experience and one that should be totally without shame.

In fact the devoted naturist from Buckinghamshire, UK, tries to do everything possible in the nude, from swimming to playing volleyball, modelling and even theatre performances.

The 53-year-old is so passionate about the benefits of her lifestyle that she started the website Socks Off in order to encourage other more reluctant people to take the plunge and get out and about while in the buff.

Here she tells about the unspoken rules of being a naturist and reveals her most memorable moments so far.


“There are a few rules which are unofficial codes of conduct in the community. The primary one is the importance of a towel. From a hygiene point of view, naturists always sit on towels and wander around towel in hand, whether on beaches, clubs, abroad on holiday.

“Towels also provide a useful screen if a man does get an erection. It’s very rare in a naturist environment, it’s just not an environment people feel (excited) in. There’s a relaxed, comfortable feeling to being in a naturist environment or around other naturists.

“Another rule of thumb for most clubs seems to be the mandatory stipulation; no swimwear allowed. We consider swimwear unhygienic, quite apart from the fact it feels so unnatural and if you’re in a naturist environment and someone stoically keeps their clothes on they’re regarded with suspicion. Naturists will suspect them to have ill intent or to be a journalist/researcher so you’d feel out of place with clothes on.

“People don’t tend to stare. It’s considered the height of ill manners. The premise is to maintain eye contact when you’re interacting with other people but just as you would do if you were walking around in a clothed environment, the eyes takes in your immediate surroundings.

“If someone is seen to be staring and it’s blatant, you’d find another member of the community would tend to go over and have a word with the individual, especially if the object of their gaze was unaware of the attention.

“The men are very protective of the women in the community and we all look out for each other. In a club situation, someone who was behaving inappropriately would be ‘out on their ear’ in a very short space of time.

“You can ask someone out naked of course. The community operates very much as if it were a clothed community although overt signs of affection aren’t encouraged i.e. passionate kissing, intimacy. Naturists keep their private lives in a separate sphere. We’re just as sexual as the next person but not in a naturist realm.”


“It’s very simple. Relax, take your clothes off and enjoy the wilderness or the company of fellow naturists. Don’t overthink it. Once we’re naked, we’re unified, there’s less posturing and ego and more accord.

“It’s a chance to really strip your life back to basics and feel free which in turn helps the mind let go of your day-to-day worries. There’s nothing nicer than being naked without shame — after all, it’s the most natural thing in the world.”


“Essentially, yes. My mother was very comfortable with her body so I was brought up with a healthy degree of body confidence, aside from my self conscious teenage years. I think the fact that I’m sporty and I’ve worked in the theatre also encouraged my body confidence.

“The body acceptance and non judgmental perception which I constantly strive towards as a naturist and healer was instilled through my initial training in therapeutic massage and learning to work with healing energy.”


“When I first became a public naturist, I wasn’t sure whether to be open about my naturism or to try and keep it quiet but after some deliberation, I decided it was imprudent to hide my involvement in naturism.

“As an active networker, I already had quite a high profile and I felt it would be more of an issue if I tried to be secretive and risk being outed. It’s a very individual decision though and I’m fortunate to be able to be completely transparent about my lifestyle choice.

“My business networking colleagues were intrigued but supportive, some close family members however, were initially horrified. They’ve grown to understand naturism more through my involvement in the community and far from being resistant, are now very accepting and in some cases have embraced naturism themselves with my encouragement.”


“I’m very much part of the naturist community in the UK although I am a relative newcomer to public naturism. I’ve been networking online and offline since 2004 and blogging since 2005 so I have a good understanding of social media and online communities.

“Once I’d decided to announce my naturism (which I did on Twitter) the next logical step was to weave my early naturist forays into my blogs which charted my experiences and growing understanding of naturism.


“The pros of naturism are infinite. I love the fact that the community is so friendly and largely non judgmental, welcoming and accepting. Most of us, even naturists, have things that they’d like to change about their body it’s human nature, but as naturists we’re more accepting of our bodies.

“We tend to be more comfortable in our skin and happier without being swathed in layers of cumbersome clothing. Naturism is a great social leveller too. Naturists tend to be more open and communicative. There’s less of a facade because the trappings of contemporary society, the obsession with brands, labels and accessories is swept away. Life becomes more about your essential being and how you interact with people.

“There are fewer negatives to naturism. In the UK the main negative is the lack of sunshine! The British tend to obsess about the weather anyway, probably because it is often lousy and we’re stranded on an island so we can be a bit insular but the weather is particularly important to naturists who thrive in the sunshine and being outdoors.

“From a demographic point of view, naturism in the UK and commonly across Europe as a whole, tends to be weighted towards the middle aged which can prove a deterrent to younger people who’re considering trying naturism/nudism. When younger people try naturism however and realise what a vibrant community it can be, they tend to become some of the community’s biggest champions.”


“I love being nude, especially outdoors in nature so no, I don’t feel self conscious in the nude in the right environment. I would certainly feel self conscious in a predominantly clothed environment (textile) i.e. I wouldn’t go on breakfast TV in naturist mode in a studio but will happily be in naturist mode around other naturists.

“I seek out naturist environments which I know to be devoid of any sexual bias. Where there’s a sexual undertone or overtone, it’s not naturist and I wouldn’t feel comfortable.”


“You can ask any naturist and they’ll tell you that it’s a heart sinking moment when you have to put your clothes back on at the end of a day. If the weather has changed, it’s more of a frustration. It’s hard to convey adequately through the written word, how freeing the feeling of having no clothes on is and how comfortable you can feel in naturist mode as opposed to being clothed.

“For me, the worst thing of all is having to peel a bathing costume off when I go swimming in a textile realm. The cold clammy material, the difficulties of wrestling it off the body and bizarrely, a naturist environment is the most non sexual environment you can possibly imagine, whereas clothes can sexualise the body perhaps through the cut, the style, the hint of sideboob.

“Naturism is a much more natural lifestyle once you become immersed in it and one which tends to involve a whole plethora of sports; swimming, miniten (short tennis) boules/petanque, hiking, walking, volleyball.”

Clothes, just feel wrong.

“I’m actively involved in naturism so I tend to go to a wide range of events where I can be comfortably naked, especially sporting events or art events. These events or visits can be at designated naturist clubs or beaches or in textile (non naturist) realms.

“When I’m naked hiking with friends, we choose walks largely off the beaten track to try and avoid the general public. Nudity isn’t illegal in the UK but most naturists are not confrontational and will try to avoid pesky textiles. It’s also because people can be very confused about the legality of nudity and even the police get it wrong on occasions so it’s easier to keep a low profile.

“We organise events through Socks Off, for example life modelling, hiking, trips to naturist clubs, events and art exhibitions and theatre performances. We also meet up at British Naturism organised events and swims. Once you get involved in the community, the breadth and range of nude activities becomes apparent. My social life has never been better!”

Out and about.

“Some of my most memorable nude moments have been the ones where I’ve been with a small group of friends at Diogenes Sun Club or outdoors in remote locations. There’s tremendous camaraderie within the community because we have a common understanding.

“We often have to address misconceptions about our lifestyle or are lampooned for our penchant for being naked, so there’s a real solidarity among naturists. My standout moments have to include the first time I walked out onto the lawns at Diogenes fully naturist. It wasn’t in any way frightening but for some people those first encounters can be tremendously nerve-racking. It was more a question of, ‘Right, that’s it, I’m a naturist now’.

“On our most recent hike with Socks off on the South Coast of England, we were buzzed by a massive military chopper which was hilarious.

“I’m sure they had got wind of us being in the locality and appeared from nowhere over the cliff, then flew directly overhead. We waved, although if I were in another country I wouldn’t have been so relaxed about their appearance!

“I love wild swimming too. There’s nothing nicer than plunging into a stream, river, lake or sea and drying out in the sunshine. The feeling of the sun on your body and the wind on your skin with sand or earth underfoot is so enlivening. You have to lose, to gain everything in life sometimes.

“Experiencing nature clothes-free is so much more profound than having your senses dulled with a barrier of clothing and naturism, along with art, music, opera, literature and sport is how I relax and find peace, with myself and the world.”

It’s all fun.
SandyBottom · 61-69, M
Great post! I used to follow Emma on Twitter years ago and her tweets were like a breath of fresh air.

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