Cherie Lidbury talks about how she feels more comfortable without clothes.

Photo: Cherie Lidbury and her art

Who doesn’t love the thrill of being naked? Whether it be walking around the house sans clothes when you’re home alone or that time you threw caution to the wind and went skinny dipping, there’s something intimately freeing about getting your gear off.

While for most of us nudity is about all about a moment of spontaneity, for some it’s a permanent lifestyle choice.

Cherie Lidbury, who lives in Newcastle on the New South Wales coast, says she fell into the nudist lifestyle in her 30s when she was a sales rep on the road and has embraced the concept ever since.

“I lived in Perth and sometimes during the day I’d think ‘it’s such a beautiful day, I just want to go down the beach’ but I never had any bathers with me,” Ms Lidbury told, “so I would just go to Swanbourne (nudist) beach, strip off and go for a nice swim and enjoy the freedom of it all.”

Ms Lidbury then met her husband Mark online and one of their first dates was at Swanbourne before they decided they liked being naked so much, they travelled the world together staying in naturist parks and nude accommodation and meeting similar people on nude cruises.

The pair now run their own nudist accommodation Marché nude stay, a clothing optional B&B in Newcastle.

While nudists may seem small and far removed group, Ms Lidbury says nudism is actually very common and the community is thriving.

“There’s a lot more nudists than you would think,” she said. “A lot of people feel like they can’t tell their families, because of all the prejudice associated with it. As soon as you tell someone you are a nudist, because of society’s prejudices, they all think ‘ugh, they’re a whole bunch of paedophiles running around’, or ‘you’re a pervert’, things like that, or they worry ‘how would my friends or family take it that I like to get my kit off’, so people are too scared to tell their friends and their family. We kind of live double lives really.”

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Ms Lidbury says she has embraced the nudist lifestyle so much that she actually feels more comfortable without clothes than with them.

“If you release your body of your clothes, you release and free your mind at the same time, it’s an unconscious thing,” she said. “I know that sounds weird but being a woman and having wobbly bits, when you wear clothes it highlights that ‘uncomfortableness’. Wearing clothes makes you more aware of your flaws and your not so perfect fit. When you’re not wearing clothes, you’re free. You don’t even think about ‘am I beautiful? Am I sexy? Am I too fat? Am I too thin?’ You don’t even think like that anymore.”

She adds that embracing her body has not only helped her in her work as an artist, but the nudist lifestyle also offers a range of health benefits.

“Apart from getting vitamin D (from the sun), it gives you a healthy mind. Usually if you are living a free lifestyle, free of clothes, free of being encumbered, all those things you get caught up with, you accept your body and other people’s bodies as they are. We’re all human, we’re all flesh and blood, you don’t notice people’s bits and pieces, you don’t notice whether they have big boobs or little boobs or are overweight, none of that matters. All our bodies have a history to them, we have scars, you’ve had a caesarean or you’ve put on weight or you’ve lost weight, you soon realise that there is every shape and size out there that you can possibly imagine. Some women have had mastectomies or boob enhancements, but no one pays any attention to that, that’s the great thing about it.”

More and more we’re being taught to love our bodies and embrace our quirks and our flaws and Ms Lidbury says nudism perfectly feeds into this mantra, making you more accepting of your body.

“You don’t get hung up on how you look anymore, especially the longer you’re in the lifestyle,” she said. “I’m 55 now, I haven’t got a 20-year-old body, even 20-years-olds aren’t perfect, so you’re accepting of your own body and everyone else’s. If you look at someone (in the nude), you can always find something beautiful about every person you meet, whether it’s their eyes or they’ve got great hair or lovely feet. It highlights other features of them other than their clothing.”

She also says it’s a great way to meet people.

“When you go to a nudist resort or a naturist park you bump into people you would never normally socialise or mix with because there is all manner of people from all walks of life. We’ve met truckies, we’ve met a lot of police people, bankers, lawyers, antique dealers, financial planners, artists, all sorts of people. It’s a real community.”

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Ms Lidbury adds that being naked also removes the judgement associated with someone’s clothes.

“When you meet nudists you don’t know what type of car they drive, what type of house they live in, how much money they earn, what employment they have unless you start talking to that person. It creates conversation, everyone is always really friendly, we socialise together in big groups, so it’s a great community. We lay around in the nude and have a drink and laugh a lot.”

So what about that old piece of advice that recommends you to picture everyone naked if you ever feel uncomfortable?

“It makes me laugh every time I hear that because we literally do that. I’ve been there, done that, literally. I find it funny.

“Being nude doesn’t worry me, but if I had to get up and speak in front of loads of people, I think I’d be a mess.”

September 13, 20161:16pm

beauty | body+soul

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