Being naked boosts my mental health – I wouldn’t live life any other way
Rachel Seymour, 33, is a support worker for people with learning disabilities – she also happens to be a naturist. She lives with her husband Nigel, 63, and their son Michael, four, in Poole, Dorset. Here she explains why going naked at every opportunity has been life-changing.
Strolling along the hot sands of a beach in the Canary Islands, my father and I became aware of something unusual. It was two years after my Mother’s death from an alcohol-related illness. I was only 16 years old, so it had been a particularly tough couple of years and this holiday was a chance for Dad and I to enjoy some time together in the sunshine.
I take my clothes off at every opportunity – at home, in the garden and yes, even in public when it’s allowed
Going naked in public for the first time
But as we wandered down to the coastline we realised that people around us were completely naked. The sun was beating down, swimmers were splashing in the sea but there wasn’t a swimming costume or pair of trunks in sight.
After a few seconds Dad smiled and said, “I’m going to brave it” and took off his shorts. I can’t say I was shocked to see Dad naked. I’d seen both him and Mum wandering about the house with no clothes on plenty of times before. But the thought of being undressed in front of other people was a different matter altogether. He admitted it felt strange and dashed into the sea to cover up. But no one batted an eyelid.
I stood there for a moment, hesitant. I was already topless but taking off my bottom half felt like a huge deal. But if Dad could do it, so could I. Feeling nervous, I quickly took off the bottom half of my bikini and joined Dad in the sea. It felt wonderful. No one was taking any notice of us – in fact, they probably took more notice of us when we were wearing our clothes – and it felt completely liberating.
He proposed to me while we were naked in front of a crowd of 400 holiday makers
Stripping off at every opportunity
That day marks the start of a passion for naturism which I embrace more than ever nearly two decades later. I take my clothes off at every opportunity – at home, in the garden and yes, even in public when it’s allowed. It’s become so normal to me, I wouldn’t live my life any other way.
I’ve been on naturist holidays to beaches and campsites, I’ve even cycled through cities such as London and Colchester completely naked. I fell in love with my now husband while playing ping pong in the nude.
Months later, he proposed to me while we were both naked in front of a crowd of 400 holiday makers. Six months after giving birth, I even stood naked in front of 80 guests as Nigel and I said our vows together at our naked blessing.
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Feeling confined in clothes
Naturism isn’t for everyone but I actually get down and depressed when I have to cover up. Wearing clothes really affects my mood and I feel restricted and confined when I’m wearing them.
So, when it’s warm, I spend most of my time at home without clothes. When you’re naked, no one judges you by the styles or labels you’re wearing. I feel more secure in myself and happily accept all the curves and imperfections of my size 16 body.
When you're naked no one judges you – I feel more secure in myself and happily accept the curves and imperfections of my size 16 body
Nakedness has always been a part of my life. Mum, Dad and I used to love wandering around the house with no clothes on and I never felt it was strange but we’d always do it in private and always get dressed when other people were visiting or they could see us.
Growing up body-positive
Schoolfriends knew nothing about my family’s habit but loved the fact that I had such an open and healthy relationship with my body. Mum was a nurse and as I approached my teenage years she talked candidly to me about everything – periods, puberty, body growth – and so I had no fears about adolescence.
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When I got my first period there was no sense of panic thanks to all the open discussion. Dad was the same. He’d talk to me about boys and explained how male parts worked. It’s something I am very grateful for and I think it’s very healthy parenting. I will do the same with Michael, my four-year-old son.
I was only 14 at the time when Mum died, after years of suffering from post-natal depression. It was then that I became more self-conscious and began covering up more. But that day on the beach changed everything.
I decided that day that I wasn’t going to care about what my body looked like to others. I was happy and healthy and it made me realise that we all look the same. We live our lives and then go into the same brown box when we die, so what’s the point in worrying about wobbly tummy or thighs?
After Mum died, the nakedness continued at home and Dad and I joined British Naturism, which led to us going on lots of naked events and holidays.
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My father even organised one of the World Naked Bike Rides in London where naked cyclists pedal through the streets. I’ve done that several times. It’s a wonderful sensation whizzing through the streets with no clothes on but it can be a bit comical at times and drivers can get a bit of a shock if they stumble upon the events!
Campaiging for nudity to be acceptable
I’m part of the Naturist Action Group with my Dad. We campaign for nakedness to be more openly accepted in public spaces such as Hampstead Heath in London. We are allowed to go naked sunbathing and swimming in certain parts of the heath now. There are still public decency laws, as long as you’re not naked to deliberately upset someone or doing anything of a sexual nature, it’s legal to walk around with no clothes on. Not many people realise that, but it’s true.
Read more: The UK's best nudist beaches revealed: Why more Brits will be in the buff this summer
I met Nigel in June 2017 when Dad and I went on a naturist holiday together to Rhodes. I’d just had a painful break-up with my previous partner and I wasn’t looking for love. Nigel was there with friends. But Nigel and I hit it off immediately. He’s kind, patient and willing to listen. I can talk to him about absolutely anything at all and we have so many open conversations. It’s all I ever wanted from a relationship.
Having seen each other naked from the start, it takes the mystery out of the sexual side of the relationship
Obviously, having seen each other naked from the start, it takes any kind of mystery out of the sexual side of the relationship but being comfortable naked with your partner makes for a very trusting relationship. Any kind of 'mystery' starts when you start getting dressed. You often wonder what your partner is going to be wearing when you go out for dates rather than what they look like without them.
A naked proposal in public
Nigel had been married before but after only five months of knowing each other, he proposed to me at a naturist event at Alton Towers. It was a complete surprise to me when I was called up on stage in front of all the other guests. He’d brought a ring and of course I said yes. We are soulmates and we finish each other’s sentences off.
I fell pregnant with our son Michael in 2018 and three months after his birth, Nigel and I got married. Everything was planned, even right down to the month he was born and we both wanted him at our wedding.
We had a traditional clothed wedding first for those guests who don’t do naturism and then we followed it three months later with a naked blessing for about 80 guests in Essex. It was so much fun, although Nigel and I didn’t go completely naked this time – we wore shoes and a little bit of jewellery, just to make it look special. We had a buffet and drinks out in the sun and we had a fabulous time.
My neighbours know that I'm a naturist and if they spot me outside they don't complain
Today, I love going naked as much as possible. Our son is very used to us being naked around the house, but as he’s only four we won’t force this type of lifestyle on him. It will always be his choice. All three of us attend our local twice monthly naked swim sessions and we have also joined our local Naturist Sun Club.
My neighbours know that I’m a naturist so if they spot me outside, they don’t complain. I haven’t really had any negativity about our lifestyle. Instead, most people say I’m really brave or that they would like to do it themselves. There’s nothing stopping them. I would encourage everyone to give it a try. You have to try it at least once in your life.
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