Naturist couple reveal how taking their clothes off helped them find contentment
- Credit: Archant
A woman who has been in a wheelchair since 2010 said being naked in social settings has helped her feel good about her body for the first time in a decade.
Sixty-eight-year-old Joy Batley, from Wymondham, said she had always enjoyed the feeling of going without clothes, but had only felt confident enough to do so alone at home.
Following a period of illness in 2010, the former-nurse started using a wheelchair for mobility, and said the weight gain she experienced as a result had a big impact on her confidence.
But in 2012, when she met Les Ford, 57, also from Wymondham, that began to change.
Mr Ford has been a naturist for more than 30 years, first experiencing the lifestyle in his 20s, when he visited Holkham beach, a well-known nudist spot in north Norfolk, while on holiday with his brother.
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Since then he has been an active member of the Norfolk naturist community, regularly attending meet-ups at friends' houses to play petanque and catch up over dinner.
Ms Batley said she was apprehensive when her partner first invited her to join him at an event, but went along out of curiosity.
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She said: "As soon as I met the others I realised it wasn't about how I looked. Nobody cares if you're fat or thin, they care if you're friendly. For the first time since I started using a wheelchair people talked to me, rather than addressing whoever I was with."
For the couple, it is baffling that people find the movement offensive.
Mr Ford said many families, as well as couples, were starting to reject the "textile world" in favour of naturism, with naked hikes and bike rides in the pipeline for the county.
He added: "We have a lot of body image issues in our society thanks to TV adverts using size zero models.
"Naturism is about not caring how you look and realising everyone is special. Scars, stretch marks, it doesn't matter because that's what makes you an individual. It's about accepting that."