Let me tell you about my friend Adam… He’s a really nice guy who works for a local nonprofit, enjoys outdoor adventures and exercise. Adam makes his friends and family a priority – such as taking a Saturday afternoon to help a friend unpack the umpteen boxes for her kitchen and alphabetizes her spice collection upon request.
One Summer afternoon, while talking to Adam about body image issues he told me about his annual 5k run at a nudist colony. Once I pick my jaw off the floor, I was able to listen to his wisdom. In the interview, you’ll find his inspiring words on running and the annual nude run on the beach.
Q: What do you love about running?
A: I’ve been a runner since I was 14 years old. Running long distance feels natural to me and is great exercise, but I love it most because it clears my mind. Moving through the natural world is what human beings are built to do. Running transports me physically and mentally.
Q: What’s different about doing a 5K in the nude?
A: It’s all of the above and then some. It’s exhilarating. Despite what you’d think, there isn’t any discomfort (I do wear shoes). Being nude gives you that much more feedback about your movements, unencumbered as you are by clothes. And, there’s nothing like the feel of the sun and the breeze as you run.
Q: What’s the greatest life lesson you have learned from your annual nudist running experience?
A: People assume that being naked with a group of people is awkward. This particular race is held on a nudist resort, so it’s a safe environment. Within five minutes of being there, you forget that you’re not wearing any clothes. Nude quickly becomes the new normal. It’s only awkward for those one or two who choose to wear clothes.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is how conditioned we are by our clothes and our fear of judgment.
When everyone is nude, the judgment subsides, we see each other for who we are, and we’re able to connect honestly with people. It’s almost like clothes sometimes prevent us from that level of connection.
Q: What keeps bringing you back to run nude every year?
A: Once you’ve done it once, you want to keep doing it. Everyone I’ve met at these races has been fascinating and friendly. I look forward to it all year long.
Q: How can this help someone that might have body image issues?
A: Being nude in these settings is not about seeing or being seen. Staring and gawking are completely inappropriate in a nudist resort. But, it’s human nature to notice other people. And…
What you notice is that everyone is both flawed and beautiful. When everyone is nude, we’re all equally vulnerable. We all have our insecurities, but when we let go of having to hide behind clothes, it’s freeing.
And the tendency to judge based on appearance goes out the window. I think if you have body image issues, being nude in a safe, non-sexual environment with normal-bodied humans could be immensely liberating.