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Nudists ─ real people with real bodies

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The notion of the perfect body is a myth foisted on society by the media through the use of idealistic images of beauty and attractiveness. No one including the models that advertisers use to sell everything from clothing to automobiles have bodies like those we see in television and magazine advertisements. Through the magic of computer enhancement, images of models are transformed. Bust sizes are increased, bodies are slimmed, legs are lengthened and complexions are made flawless. Super model Cindy Crawford once lamented, "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford." If you want to fully grasp how the media uses "the photo shop effect" take a look at the YouTube video "Body Evolution - Model Before and After" in the sidebar.

[More from Dallas Nudist Examiner: Social nudity can promote a catharsis and better body image]

Presentation of these unrealistic images perpetuate a mythical standard of perfection and whether by intention or not, suggests all of us should strive to achieve this standard if we wish to be considered attractive. That produces unrealistic expectations for both men and women and is very damaging. When people try to live up to the standard and fail, they develop a negative body image. Poor body image is a major contributor to the development of things like disordered eating behaviors and lack of self-esteem.

One of the biggest obstacles to actually trying social nudity for the first time faced by many Dallas men and women otherwise attracted to philosophies of nudism is poor body image and lack of self-confidence when it comes to appearance. Many of them think "I don't have a good body and I don't want others to see me nude." As noted at the Brown University Health and Education web page, "Exposure to images of idealized versus normal bodies" is one of the eight biggest factors that shape, whether negatively or positively, a person's body image perceptions.

There is an interesting website named Naked People where visitors can see what real people and real bodies look like. The purpose of the site is not really about promoting better body image. It is more aimed at showing how our clothing is a second skin that can be used, either to reveal or disguise our innermost being and is often used to project the profession, social status or mood of the wearer. But the images used on the site are of value in the discussion of body image. If you visit the site, you will find photos of 33 different real men and women, ranging in age from 18-59. The individuals initially appear fully clothed, but if you hover over the images with your cursor the clothing disappears leaving each person completely nude. What is interesting about this site is how striking it is that when nude, people look a great deal more alike than different. Visiting the site and looking at the images is also a chance to gain some perspective with regard to your own body image since you will find much more realistic standards for comparison. You won't find any "photo-shopped" models or celebrities on this website, just real people.

One of the bedrock philosophies of nudism and naturism is the practice of body acceptance. When you visit a nudist club for the first time you will find all types of bodies in all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. In other words, you will find people who look very much like you.

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