In the past century we have come a long way in dealing with the irrational shame connected with nudity, but we still have a ways to go, even with nudity in fine art.
Reading the stories in your newsletters, I am often reminded of a time from my youth. It was not so much a DOMAI moment as much as it was an "awakening". Or perhaps "unshackling" would be the more appropriate term for it.
I was raised in a religious family. We didn't talk about nudity, but it was clear to me that there was something wrong with it. If I could only know what was so wrong about nudity, I might be able to understand what was wrong with me. You see, I actually enjoyed being nude. The sense of freedom that came with nudity was very inviting. We lived at the edge of a large forest, and I spent many hours and days exploring it, appreciating its beauty, and observing all the wonders it held.
My favorite place was at the top of a ridge that had a fantastic view of the neighboring hills and mountains. Many summer days I would pack a lunch and a book and appreciate the view as I got lost in my book. Sometimes I even removed my clothes and enjoyed the sun and cool breeze on my bare skin. Unfortunately the joy of the moment was tempered by the sense of guilt and shame I felt. But my love of freedom was stronger so I didn't give those feelings much room to run. Of course this was a pursuit that I had to do alone and could never share or even discuss with anyone. But that was to change.
One day in my teenage years I was talking with the twin girls who lived next door. They were my age and were telling me about their secret location in the woods that they liked to go to for solitude. It sounded much like my own story, and then they shocked me by saying that sometimes they would even spend time there nude. I was completely taken aback. Why would they say something like that? What's more, why would they ever do something like that? Everyone knew that nudity was not right. Yet could it be that I was not so unlike other people? Or were they just making up a story for its shock value?
I struggled with all these questions for a time and then finally found the courage to bring the subject up again. It seems so silly now, but it was difficult for us to talk about such a taboo subject. Before long however I told them about my secret and we all agreed to visit my favorite spot and to even enjoy it in the nude together.
The three of us were nervous at first, and one of the girls and I were keeping ourselves busy with anything we could think of to put off the moment that I was dreading yet dreaming of. The other twin watched us with bemusement and finally announced that she was not going to wait any longer to enjoy this beautiful place to its fullest, and she began pulling off her shirt. I was riveted in place. I can't say now if it was excitment or fear, but as Maria's shorts were sliding down her long legs, I was finally able to get a grasp on my shirt and begin pulling it up over my head. As it cleared my eyes, bra straps were sliding down her arms. And her panties were gone soon after. Any fear I had turned to awe.
Just the day before I had not been able to even speak about nudity to anyone else on the planet and now, parading before me, was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in my life. Maria pretended to be completely relaxed as she spread her arms wide at the wonderful vista before us, but she told me later how nervous she was to be naked in front of a male for the first time in her life. Katherine and I finally got out of our clothes and we appreciated the beautiful scenery and each other's company.
By the time our visit ended we were all much more relaxed about our state of undress, and we were able to more fully appreciate the naturalness of it all. The distant hills were even more beautiful that day, but they could not compare to the beauty of woman. It was one of the most incredible days of my life. My sense of shame about enjoying nudity was well on its way to an overdue burial. We met in that stunning place a few more times that summer, but the twins' father had taken another job, and the family was soon gone.
But what stayed was the comfort of knowing that I was not so different from other people, that nudity was not only a pleasurable experience but also a natural state and something to be enjoyed without guilt, shame, or embarrassment. The best thing however was to recognize and appreciate just what a work of art the female form is and what a pleasure it can be to commune with women and Nature. That summer I had been able to throw off the shackles of a religion and a society that had tried to stunt us all. It was my liberation (and Maria's and Katherine's, as well), and I've never looked back.
"I must say what a wonderful website this is! I am another of your growing band of women members (but my husband looks too with me from time to time!) who appreciates the beauty of other women, and how respectfully they are treated on your site. When I signed up I was amazed by the number of gorgeous quality images, and I really look forward to the updates on Mon, Wed, and Fri each week. [now it's five times]" - Josie <josie_1960[a-t]hotmail.com>
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