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The Nudist Woman: Crystal

You can always pick out my friend Crystal in a crowd. She is the most strikingly dressed woman wherever she goes. Her wardrobe spans the hues of the rainbow. She might be wearing a multi-colored turtleneck sweater, with the deep red of the pattern reflected in her slacks, socks, earrings, and even her glasses. If she arrives for a casual shopping date in blue-jeans, her shoes will be matching "blue-jeans shoes." Even her socks will be blue. Her clothing and makeup always complement her natural golden hair and ivory complexion. She has impeccable taste. She often stops by her house to change her clothes to suit a new activity. She'll quickly change earrings, glasses, and shoes as well.

Crystal's fashion follows her moods. One day, she imitates the butterfly with a gala splash of colors and butterfly earrings. On another occasion when visiting the hospital, she is addressed as a professional person by the medical personnel who assume she's one of their colleagues judging by the deep tones of her expensive-looking suit and regal composure. Another day, she'll be off to play with children she is baby-sitting, complete with floppy sun bonnet and long spiral earrings chosen especially to bring a sparkle to the young faces. Her bouncy walk and perky smile belie the fragility of her slender five-foot frame.

Self-composed with her clothes on, she started out feeling horrified at the thought of anyone seeing her naked, especially since she had recently lost over 75 pounds. She saw herself as a mass of ugly wrinkles and rolls of flab. She would not appear naked in front of anyone -- until a special man came into her life. Now Crystal is bugging me, "When is your next nude swimming event?" Why this change?

Crystal's story tells us something about the thought processes of the person who decides to become a nudist. Often this involves a long journey of tiny steps. The first steps are taken months or years before the critical event of checking out a nudist camp or going to a nude beach.

"In the past I've had several personal experiences being nude," Crystal says. "I've had the joy of walking through a forest nude, feeling the spongy ground under my feet and the forest air kissing my skin. My husband and I strolled nude down the Hamma Hamma River in Washington. We were oblivious to the stares of other campers. On several occasions, I've gone skinny-dipping. I've always enjoyed the tremendous sensuousness of swimming nude. In fact, over twenty years ago I was well acquainted with a nudist couple. In spite of these experiences, though, 'nudism' never appealed to me."

"Perhaps I felt too vulnerable to be seen nude. I was afraid someone would laugh or reject me because of the appearance of my 'pleasingly plump' body. I associated being naked with rape, incest, brainwashing, torture, guilt, and confusion mixed with fun. In other words, nudity meant chaos."

Crystal has had years of therapy to counteract the effects of severe physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse. In her first five years, she survived ritual abuse by a friend of the family. She endured a fanatical religious upbringing with parents who were unable to nurture. Then as an adult, she gravitated to a cult headed by a greedy, unprincipled pseudo-messiah who could only hurt and take from others. Because of this history of abuse, she associated being naked with bad feelings. Evil to her is a strong word, yet it merely hints at the enormity of the terror that would sweep through her.

After losing her husband from a massive heart attack, Crystal has been a widow for many years. She had given up on finding a compatible romantic relationship. "I hadn't been with a man for over ten years," she says. "Then I fell intensely in love with a man who combined passionate hedonism with a brilliant and questioning mind about all aspects of life. He was in harmony with his 6-foot-3 inch bony body even though he'd had successful surgery for removal of the bladder."

Crystal's lover was a nudist at heart. His lively sense of humor and disregard for modesty prompted Crystal to look at her own body with a less critical eye. Although he wasn't a member of any formal nudist organization during his life, he portrayed for her the relaxed world of nudity! His height, and the wrinkles due to age and weight loss gave him the look of a garden scarecrow. Even so, he walked around the house in only a T-shirt.

"He was in recovery from the surgery, or so I thought," Crystal said. "We learned we liked the same kind of music, and we began to share our favorites with each other. We discovered our mutual spiritual connection with classical music, art, and opera. We were told he was fully recovered. So, we gave ourselves permission to pursue our passion for life, intimacy and sex. We had a few brief months together in which he taught me much about life, and I taught him about life after death. In the process, he healed that vulnerable part of me that was holding me back from nudism."

Crystal's lover died. His death left her with a deep abiding knowledge of his full acceptance of himself and her body -- enjoying the freedom of no clothes in their home. She realized he treasured her body. As she thought of their time together, she remembered something else.

"Some time ago, I read an article written by a nudist friend. In the article, she made a connection between nudism and spirituality. A few days after reading this article, a deep conviction came to me that nudism is (or can be) a spiritual journey. Months later through a painful process, another inspiration came to me -- that if our mores included nudism, perhaps there would be no child molestation, no rape, no incest, no hate. Our society would get a chance to work toward peace and acceptance of our fellow humans through the promise of the nudist lifestyle."

I asked Crystal what interested her in nudism. She quickly retorted, "I'm not interested in nudism. I'm drawn to nudism. What draws me is the freedom. It's only when we get rid of our cover-ups that we have even a chance to live in peace."

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