A little bit about me first: my name is Jessica Lowe, I'm 16 and I live in Nottingham with my mother and my younger sister Catherine (Cat), who's 12 (my parents are divorced and my dad lives in Manchester). And I'm proud to say that I'm a nudist!
When I was growing up, I never thought about being naked. It wasn't that my parents brought me up to believe nudity was wrong in any way - it was just something that regular people didn't do. I was a person, so i had to wear clothes. It wasn't bad to be naked, it just wasn't the done thing! That's what I thought growing up. Being naked was just what you were in the bath or between clothes! It never crossed my mind that you could be naked for any other reason (I was too young even for the 'birds and bees').
That kind of changed for me when i was about 11 or 12 (I forget exactly). It was a summer's night and it was really hot, like heatwave temperature. I'd been trying to get to sleep for ages with no luck; it was just too hot. I climbed out of bed, stripped off my pyjamas and threw them across the room. It was the first time I had ever got naked not to either shower or put other clothes on, and it felt very strange. But I got back into bed and managed to get to sleep.
After a bit I woke back up again - I was thirsty so I got out of bed and went down the corridor to get a drink. I was half way between my bedroom and the bathroom before I woke up enough to realise I didn't have any clothes on! I could've panicked and run back to my room to get dressed, but instead i just kept on walking. I was very nervous that someone would wake up and find me, but I loved the feeling of being nude so I kept on, got a drink from the bathroom and went back to bed. For a long time after, though, that was my only nude experience. It just didn't occur to me I could repeat it for fun! That changed last year, when I was 15. There were a couple of TV programmes that caught my attention, about streakers and nudists, and I watched them and became curious. I remembered my experience that summer night and how good and different it had felt to be nude, and was amazed to discover that this was something some people did all the time. I went on the internet and found some nudist websites and realised 'hey, this is something I can do, too!' The first time I actually tried it was almost a year ago (mid last April). I was alone in the house and had just had a shower. There were no towels around, so I had to go downstairs and get one from the dryer. Normally, I'd put a robe on to do this but as I was alone I thought, 'why bother?' I went downstairs nude and the dryer was by the back door... At that point I think I kinda went into a bit of a trance - I opened the back door and went outside without really thinking. I stepped out into the back yard and just kind of stood there, overcome by the experience. It was the first time I'd been outside nude ever - it was an awesome; I'd never felt anything like it before and I loved it!
So that's how I started to really love being nude, and from then on I definitely wanted to do it more. But I didn't want to tell my family because I didn't think they would approve at all (like I said earlier, I'd been brought up not to believe that nudity was wrong, just that it wasn't to be done - 'normal' people just didn't go around naked), so I kept my nude activities a secret. I actually started out by doing some streaks first - sneaking out at night when everyone was in bed just so i could enjoy being nude outside. I live in the suburbs, but it's a quiet area at night so I felt pretty safe and actually had some great experiences!
I soon started being nude at home when my family went out and left me in the house alone, and pretty soon it got to the point where I would strip off my clothes as soon as I heard them go out of the door. If the weather was nice, I'd go out into the back garden (we have quite high fences and the neighbours on either side have trees, so it always felt pretty private), otherwise I'd just stay in the house watching TV, doing my homework or whatever, only nude, which made even these boring little things much more enjoyable!
By this time, what with the information I was finding out on the internet, and the amount of time that I was spending nude (basically whenever I got the chance), I had decided I was definitely a 'nudist,' this great word that I had heard but never applied to myself before. I felt like shouting to the world; 'I AM A NUDIST' at the top of my voice, but at the same time I was really scared how people would react if they knew - they hadn't seen the same programmes and visited the same sites that I had, so they would think what I did was wrong, and perverted, even though I knew it wasn't...
Eventually I decided I would tell my best friend, Amisha; she was my own age and so wouldn't judge me, and after all, if I couldn't trust her, who could I trust? I plucked up the courage and told her one day when we were walking home from school. I asked her if she knew what nudism was and what she thought about it, and she was kind of puzzled and said; "it's okay for people who like it, I guess.' Then I just blurted out that I thought that I might be a nudist; and she laughed! I explained that i enjoyed being without clothes when I was at home and it was really becoming an important part of my life, so wanted to be honest and tell her. She was pretty surprised, but then she said that it was my body I was choosing to uncover so I had the right to do that if I wanted, and if something felt good then I should be able to do it, and she was proud that I had the courage to do that! That made me feel so great - the first person I had told accepted me as a nudist and understood how important it was to me! This gave my confidence in myself, in my body and in my nudism a major boost.
Telling Amisha had another benefit, because it meant that I had someone to go out with and increase my experience of nudism. Amisha was never interested in going nude herself at all, and still isn't, but it was good that I had a friend to go places with so I could be nude for long periods away from the house. We started finding isolated spots to go to where I could undress and be nude - either taking a (fairly long) walk into the countryside until we found a secluded spot in fields or woodland where I would undress and we'd just sit and chat or, once school broke up for summer, we started going into the woods and fields next to the school playing fields (with no kids around the whole area was deserted and I could lay out and walk round in the nude quite happily). I never would have been able to do this alone, but with Amisha with me I felt much safer because now she could keep lookout for me and warn me if anyone was coming, and also I was less likely to get into trouble if I wasn't alone - if anyone caught us she would help me come up with an excuse, such as 'she's on a dare,' or 'we were only sunbathing' and it would be much more believable than if I was on my own.
It was a big step for me, too, because Amisha was the first person I had ever gone nude in front of. I mean, I'd been to slumber parties with friends where we all shared one room and got changed there together, and when we go clothes shopping we'll often all go in the same fitting room, but I'd never been completely nude in front of someone before like that, so the fact I was able to do that was another major boost to my confidence!
I had some great experiences that summer and Amisha got be really understanding of how important being nude was to me, but it still wasn't an ideal situation for me. I was still really nervous that I would get discovered and get into trouble, and I also knew that my outdoor activities would have to stop when we started back at school and the weather got colder. I could always be nude at home, but only when my family was out, and I was getting tired of diving for my clothes as soon as i heard the car pull into the driveway. I decided I was going to have to take the biggest step of my life, and tell mum and Cat that I was a nudist...
I really wanted to tell them now, but I could never get up the nerve to just come out with it. I knew that there was nothing wrong in what I was doing, but I wasn't certain mum would see it like that! It got to late October last year (2002) and I still hadn't come clean about it, so I decided I was going to have to try a different approach…
I wanted to see how my family would react before I committee to telling them, so I started walking round the house in various states of undress and letting my mum see me. First I just started getting clothes out of the drier wearing my jeans and a bra, and no-one said anything. Then one day I decided to go downstairs in just my underwear. I sat on the sofa reading a magazine like that, and my mum stuck her head round the door and said, ''Jess, put some clothes on!' But she did it in a jokey way, and when I was still there in my underwear when she came back later she just smiled and shook her head, but didn't say anything about it.
This gave me more confidence, so I started doing stuff like leaving my bedroom door open all the time when I was changing my clothes, and lying on my bed in my underwear instead of getting dressed straight away; stuff like that. I just basically wanted to get my mum and Cat used to me not always being totally dressed, so that when i dropped my nudist bombshell it wasn't so hard for them to accept!
My plan went on like this and eventually I was managing to get away with coming out of the shower carrying my towel instead of wrapping it round me, so I thought it was probably the right time. This was in early November last year (2002), and I decided I would go for it. I took a shower one Saturday morning, towelled my hair dry and then, with nothing on at all, went downstairs into the kitchen. I was really nervous because I didn't know what mum would say, but when I went into the kitchen she just stared open-mouthed. I got a 7-up from the fridge and went back upstairs - neither of us said a word, she was too shocked and I was too nervous! I didn't get dressed then, just lay on my bed with my door open and drank my drink. I knew mum wouldn't just say nothing about what I'd just done, and sure enough, after a few minutes, she came upstairs and said "we need to talk..."
I put my bathrobe on because I didn't want to make mum feel uncomfortable, and she sat down on the bed and said "if I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to tell me something..." She'd kind of already figured out that maybe I was trying to get her used to this, so I just sort of spilled everything out. I told her that I had been going nude in the house when she and Cat were out (I didn't tell her about any of the other things I'd done though) and that I enjoyed it. I told her I felt more comfortable this way and it made me happy, and that I thought I was a nudist. I think the fact that I used the word nudist showed her how serious I was, that it wasn't just some crazy experimentation, but that being nude was part of my lifestyle and very important to me. I asked her how she would feel if I were to be nude at home, and said I wouldn't if she didn't feel comfortable with me doing it...
She was quiet for a bit and then said that she didn't really see anything wrong with it if it was just in front of her and my sister, as we were all girls together anyway. She said if it was how I wanted to live then she didn't really see any harm in it, and that I was old enough now that I could act responsibly about something like that.
She did set down a few rules, though. I wasn't allowed to go nude if there were any guests or visitors in the house, and I had to get dressed if we had a family meal together. I also had to make sure Cat was OK with it, so I took the robe off and went to talk to her. Cat didn't seem at all shocked when I came into her room nude, and she was completely nonplussed when I asked her if she minded me walking around naked - she just said 'don't you do that anyway?' She'd obviously seen me a few more times than mum had, and she said it didn't matter to her. She asked why, though, and I said that I was because it feels good and makes me happy, and she said if that was the case then she didn't mind at all, which I thought was a really nice thing to say! So that was great, because now I could be nude at home almost all the time, which was awesome. I spent the rest of that weekend nude and only got dressed for meals. I took very quickly to coming home from school and just going straight upstairs and undressing. Mum was a bit awkward at first but she soon got used to me being nude all the time.
She was really strict about the rules, though - as soon as the doorbell rang she would yell 'Jess, are you decent?!' and I'd have to run upstairs and either shut my door or get dressed. Also, she wouldn't let me sit down to dinner unless I had my clothes on. It was starting to make me feel awkward and unhappy - over the past few months I had really learned to accept my body and not be ashamed of being naked, and that had been a really good feeling, and now the way mum was acting was making me feel as if I had something to be ashamed of that should be kept hidden. I was caught out one time when Cat brought some friends back unannounced and I was nude in the living room. I was really embarrassed and I didn't know why - it shouldn't have bothered me that they had seen me naked, but it did...
By now I had begun talking to other young nudists online and collecting websites and stuff, so I decided I needed to 'educate' mum! I told her I sensed she wasn't very happy with my nudism, really, and that it was making me feel ashamed and unhappy about myself. She was actually really surprised but admitted that she could see now that the way she was acting was making me feel ashamed of my body, even though that wasn't her intention. I reassured her that me being a nudist wasn't sexual, that it wasn't about showing off 'certain parts' of my body, but it was about doing normal stuff just with having no clothes on at all. I showed her some websites and emails, to show that I wasn't the only teenage girl out there that had chosen this lifestyle and that it was nothing weird or sexual, just a comfortable, enjoyable way of living for certain people.
This had a good effect on mum. She looked at the stuff I showed her and admitted she perhaps hadn't fully understood what I was doing before. She said that from now on she would treat me more responsibly, and that I could decide whether to stay nude or get dressed. I could be nude for dinner if that's how I felt comfortable, and if people came round then I could decide whether to let them see me nude or not. She did say that it would be courteous to warn them in advance if possible that I might be nude and she said she'd do that with all of her friends.
So now I was much happier. I could be nude at home whenever I wanted (which was pretty much all the time, unless i had a reason to wear clothes), and I felt like she trusted me much more to make decisions - after all, it's my body and I can decide who gets to see it! Since then, most of the regular visitors to our house know that I am a nudist. Andy, my mum's business partner (she owns an art supplies shop) has seen me naked lots now. He's been a friend of the family since I was 2, so it didn't feel that weird the first time I went nude while he was there. I asked him first though and he teaches life drawing at the local college some evenings, so he said he was used to being around nude models and didn't have a problem with my nudity at all.
All of this did my confidence so much good. I no longer felt any shame about being a nudist, so I decided it was time for me to let some more of my friends know. I told my two friends Sophie and Alexandra (Alex), and they were both really accepting of my nudism, too. They are the main two friends that come round my house, so it was important to me that they knew and accepted it, so that it wouldn't be a problem if I was nude when they came round. It was a bit awkward the first time they came round after that because I was dressed, and I told them i was going to get undressed and went off upstairs to do that, and when I came back down they didn't know where to look at first! But they soon got used to it and were soon carrying on like normal, just as if i was dressed.
Sophie was cool about it, but kept asking me loads of questions about what being nude all the time was like. In the end I said to her that she might like to try it for herself, and she admitted that she kind of wanted to, but she hadn't known how to ask me. So she came round my house that evening and I was already nude. There was no-one else in, just me and her, and I let her in and went upstairs to get a CD. When I came back downstairs there was a pile of clothes on the living room floor and Sophie was stood there nude looking pretty awkward. I asked her if she was okay and she said she was fine, so I said did she want to go outside? She nodded and we went into the back garden together. Once she was outside she really seemed to relax and kept going on about how wonderful she felt, and when we went back inside she was totally cool. She picked up her clothes, and dumped them on my bedroom floor and said they were staying there until she went home. Since then Sophie will often go nude at my house, especially if it's just me and her (she tends to stay dressed if other people are here although my mum, sister, Alex and Amisha have all seen her going nude). She hasn't told her parents yet and says she never will, because she just doesn't think they'll accept her, which is a shame, but then she does have three brothers, so I guess things are different for her...
That time with Sophie was a big moment for me, because it was the first time I had been nude with someone else who was also nude, and it was great to not be the only one any more. A little while later it snowed, and I managed to convince Cat it would be a good idea to go and have a snowball fight both nude. She hadn't showed much interest in nudity before, though she had become more relaxed about it, leaving her bedroom door open all the time and coming out of the shower without a towel on, stuff like that. But we went outside both nude and played in the snow in the back garden and it was great (though very cold!)... She hasn't really gone nude much since, but she says she probably will in the summer if its nice weather.