Photographer gains self-esteem from social nudity

Mark Schuster - Assistant Director of Photography

Mark Schuster – Assistant Director of Photography

Mark Schuster

I have always found social nudity to be a fascinating thing. What would life be like sans clothing? What would my life have been like if, instead of being embarrassed and even ashamed of my body, I could have seen first hand that I was no different than anyone else?

I finally decided to find out, and I called Oaklake Trails Naturist Resort.

If it hadn’t taken me almost three hours to find Oaklake Trails, I very well may have turned around once I got there. I was very nervous. I couldn’t seem to make my finger push the call button on the gate. I would have stood there till the end of time if an elderly woman, driving a golf cart and wearing a baggy T-shirt, had not chosen that exact moment to check her mail. She asked me if I had a reservation.

I said I did, and she said to follow her through the gate. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the gate swinging closed behind me. I was really going to do this.

After stopping at the camp office to fill out the appropriate forms and receive my complementary tour of the grounds via golf cart, I found myself sitting back in my van, alone and left to my own devices. I realized this was the part where I was supposed to get naked, which is the only part I was worried about, but which was, after all, the whole point of the trip.

I had read the hardest part about visiting a nudist resort is taking off your clothes for the first time, and it is definitely true. If you can do that, the rest is easy.

The fact that everyone else is naked helps, too.

Like most people who have never experienced it first hand, I had certain ideas about what a nudist resort would be.

To my pleasant surprise, all of the positive things were reinforced, and all of the negative things were proven to be groundless. For one thing, the atmosphere at Oaklake Trails was not one of extreme sexual tension, as may be expected considering everyone was naked, but was actually less sexually charged than, say, your normal municipal swimming pool. It’s hard to explain, and it seems illogical, but it’s true. These people were not flaunting their nudity.

They were simply existing in a state of undress, as commonplace at Oaklake Trails as firemen wearing protective outfits before running into a burning building.

It seemed to me that social nudism would be good for my body image and self-esteem, and it was. I’m not in shape and I have issues with my body, but in talking to people who were willing to take the time to look below the surface at who I really am, I learned that my body has just as much validity as any other.

There were no “hot chicks” at Oaklake Trails. There were no fat people, no skinny people and no old or young people. There were just people. And I realized that people are beautiful simply because they are people; not because they are younger, or firmer, or larger or smaller than anyone else.

All I can say to people thinking about trying social nudism is that if you think you may like it, you probably will.

On the other hand, if simply reading this column has embarrassed you, social nudism is probably not for you. Of course, there is only one way to know for sure.

If I can do it, anybody can.