Being in the buff feels spontaneous, joyous, freeing, brave and sensual

When Gwyneth Paltrow posted a photo of herself in the buff on Instagram to mark her 48th birthday, the eye-rolling was swift – followers were quick to tell her she should “grow old gracefully” or to “put it away at her age”.

Her 16-year-old daughter Apple commented with “MOM”.

Unsurprisingly, the Goop founder also used it as an excuse to plug her wellness company’s new body butter (you don’t build a £191million-pound business by accident y’know). But I think there’s something to be admired and celebrated in Gwynnie’s unabashed body confidence.

I hope, like Gwyneth, that I’ll still be stripping off as I approach the big 5-0, although probably a little less publicly and with a distinctly less yoga-honed body.

I’d like to apologise in advance if you ever find yourself in a communal changing room with me – should such places ever return.

I’ll be that woman who looks at you just a fraction too long. Because although it might sound strange, there is something I miss about being naked in public.

This isn’t a confession of my time on the sex party scene, or me revealing that I have a penchant for flashing. But when the opportunity arises – a spa, sauna, nudist beach – I love being in my birthday suit.

I definitely haven’t always felt so body confident – I remember doing the awkward “changing under a towel” trick every school PE lesson and being mortified when my family stumbled on to a nudist beach in France.

'Being in the buff is equivalent to meditation'

But a visit to the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond changed my mind about nudity. Here, women sunbathe naked or nearly naked, and it was the first place I had seen the nude female form outside of paintings or on TV.

Forget air-brushed perfection, here were real women, unashamedly showing their C section scars, stretch marks, lopsided boobs and more.

It made me realise how beautiful bodies can be.

There is an element of rebellion in being in the nud, whether it’s skinny-dipping or just peeling off your kit in your own back garden. It feels spontaneous, joyous, freeing, brave and sensual.

Not to mention the bliss of cold water on sun-warmed skin.

For me, being in the buff is equivalent to meditation – it takes you out of your head and forces you to inhabit your body instead.

Stripping off your clothes can feel like you’re stripping away your stresses

A 2017 study by Goldsmiths, University of London, found that naturistsexperienced immediate and significant improvements in body image and self-esteem.

Baring all every now and again is good for the soul, so I’m not surprised that British Naturism has seen a 400% increase in members since the start of lockdown.

In May, it launched The Great British Take-Off in the hope that all these months with many of us working bra-less might trigger a nudist revolution.

Even Esther Rantzen got in on the act – celebrating her 80th birthday in June by running around her garden stark naked.

“The early morning breeze wafts around bits of you that are normally enclosed and it just feels lovely,” she said. Go, ER!

It’s a shame that, as a nation, we’re still prudish when it comes to being unclothed, because there’s nothing scary about baring all.

But if you are going to try it, it would be wise to make sure your webcam is turned off before your next work Zoom meeting.

  • Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.

This week I’m…

Being pampered by… Ruuby: This beauty service provides heavenly facials, manis and more to your living room.

Reading… Blue Ticket: This unsettling dystopian novel by Sophie Mackintosh is the new Handmaid’s Tale.

Excited about… Elvie Curve: The fem-tech brand has just launched a new hands-free breast pump that fits in your bra.

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