David Ross is a naturist based in Lancashire. After suffering from severe clinical depression, David found naturism to be a liberating practise that played a major role in his mental health recovery.
Naturism refers to a lifestyle of non-sexual nudity in private and public spaces, which specifically connects people to nature and the environment.
In the UK, over 6.5 million people consider themselves naturists and partake in naturists events every year. Some of the more popular naturist events include naked swimming and hiking.
In the North West, naturism has also grown more popular, with a number of camping retreats and naturist clubs available across the region.
A naturist charity event
Recently, David, along with the North and West Naturist Outreach Group, organised the half-moon bay beach day and skinny dip.
This clothing-optional event took place at Morecambe Bay and, alongside skinny dipping, included mindfulness and Tai Chi classes led by David. As well as raising money for Lancashire Mind, the event aimed to raise awareness about the benefits created by the naturist ethos, including increased self-esteem and body positivity.
The North and West Naturist Outreach Group hold a variety of events throughout the year which also aims to share this message.
David describes naturism as, “a feeling of celebrating being part of the universe.”
David was first introduced to naturism by friends after suffering with clinical depression. He quickly noticed the benefits the practise had on his mental health.
While suffering from depression, David took part in a therapeutic earning scheme, in which those facing long term mental illness undertake work of a therapeutic nature for a few hours each week.
As part of this scheme, David worked as a life model for art classes. “I could have made a career of it,” said David. “I ended up modelling in evening classes in Burnley and Manchester for colleges and amateur classes.”
Following the death of his wife, Carole, David lost interest in many of his hobbies, including naturism. After talking with a friend, he realised how much he missed the lifestyle and ventured back into the practise. From here, David rediscovered the welcoming nature of the community and made new friends.
He now takes part in a multitude of naturist activities including, naked swimming sessions, bike rides and hikes. As a qualified training instructor, David also leads Tai Chi classes at some events.
Naturism and mental health
Following his previous experience as a life model, David has also taken part in naked art classes in which all participants, including the model, are naked. To David, the event felt “completely natural”.
David believes that naturism has played a significant role in his mental health recovery, claiming that the practise has provided him with a physical sense of freedom and greater self-acceptance.
“It is certainly a mental plus to find myself more accepting of other people than formerly, and more accepting of my own vulnerable humanity, whilst also rejoicing in its physicality.”
Research has shown that participants of naturism experience a greater life satisfaction and promote a more realistic standard of physical attractiveness.
Feeling connected with nature is also a major factor in why many individuals, including David, enjoy the lifestyle.
“I can only feel truly immersed in the natural world if naked”, said David, “so I do so when possible.”
To share his love for naturism, David also writes poetry on the subject. This is an extract from his poem Count Six Sequoias (Reflected Memories at Minsteracres Lake):
“Bathed in the breeze and clothed in the memories it brings: even those shackles, I find, which to the past can bind, are loosened through the kindly welcome of the lake.”
Across the UK, a variety of naturist events take place every year. While the practise is still controversial for some, an increasing number of people are finding naturism to be a freeing and enjoyable lifestyle.