By Jodi Rawson
On the swim team I covered myself entirely in a towel and only shimmied out of it before I jumped into the water. I changed in the bathroom stalls as though my body were grossly disfigured. In the critical and mostly conservative circles I was raised in, it was shameful to show a lot of skin, but I took it to the extreme and was ashamed of my body.
That was before my babies warped my breasts and midsection to a sagging stretch-marked form.At some point in this life, I had to come to terms with imperfections.The all-star major league baseball players, for instance, only get a hit less than one time in three at bats — if they are lucky. Maybe imperfections are inevitable and maybe they make better art.
Challenged by my best friend 13 years ago, I entered a hot springs nude in much the same way that I entered the pool in high school, covered in a towel until the last moment. If hot springs are the temple of nudity, than nude resorts are the revival meetings.
One of largest nudist celebrations is the “Bare Buns Fun Run,” (BBFR). These whimsical races have been going on for decades and the original BBFR began north of Spokane, hosted by Kaniksu Ranch Family Nudist Park. Kaniksu is celebrating its 78th anniversary and this year’s BBFR is their 33rd.
Margie is a co-owner of Sun Meadows, (a family nudist resort in Worley near the Coeur d’Alene Casino), and she does everything that a homemaking host would do while wearing nothing but sandals and necklaces.She says that the rules are that “a child should be able to come upon any activity and be safe… that is the definition of a family nudist resort.” Margie says Kaniksu and Sun Meadows Nudist recreational facilities are like “sister resorts.” Both of these local nudist resorts have tempting amenities such as beautiful land, swimming pools, and comfortable rooms for rent or sale.
I had a crappy self-image in my teens and twenties. Is there a woman whom can testify otherwise? I cursed the changes that my body underwent that clarified that I existed in the image of the “lesser” gender — my childhood was leaking out of me along with my menstrual blood. I ran cross-country and cursed my body for looking stout and Irish instead of Kenyan, but I wanted the breasts and booty of a Grecian God. I didn’t know that this type of body is only possible through anorexia plus silicone or photo editing.
When I was raped I felt really guilty about looking “sexy” the night it happened — the night he drugged my soda — but I looked conservative enough for a job interview as a secretary. Hardly pornographic. This thinking was stemming from my religious roots. My rape councilor said that “a woman ought to be able to walk down the street nude and be respected. No is no.”
I never forgot her words but I didn’t believe them for many years. Sexiness was a “sin” for which rape was my “reward.” Whatever the reason for my rape, my body was used, cursed, disgusting and ugly. I ranged from 120 lbs to 200 lbs from 15 years old to 20. Clothing became an uncomfortable curse and a nemesis and nudity was unthinkable.
Even looking at myself after a shower was a shameful act that could induce anxiety. My husband has issues, but thankfully, they are a lot different than mine, so we can babysit one another. He checked out a nudist resort in his 20s and was attracted by the freedom and relaxation and urged me to be open, but it took me 13 years. “In nudist circles it is called power relaxation… something about not having tight clothing and having nothing to hide behind… just being vulnerable yourself that we find very relaxing.” says Margie.
I went to our nearby Bare Buns Fun Run last year and watched my husband get second in his age group for the scenic 5k run. It was equal parts curiosity and bravery that fueled my journey to a nudist resort — and self discovery. I sat lazily on the sidelines, serenading the athletes with my banjo (which cowardly clothed me — the way I was sitting it was covering all my parts), and I learned a lot. If human bodies are the epitome of art, then the BBFR was my Louvre.
A woman camping with her boyfriend near our campsite summed it up best at end of the weekend when she said to me, “it is weird that this is not more weird.” We were both virgins of nude recreation prior to last year’s BBFR.
At first I didn’t even get naked at Kaniksu and I merely observed and tested the waters, but by the end of the weekend I felt comfortable, imagining my skin as my clothing. It was rewarding and energizing. I was especially inspired by the elder people with their atypical physical beauty contrasted by absolute self assurance, like someone sporting a unique outfit they know will soon be a raving style. A 90-year-old nudist was told by her doctor to keep up her recreation at Sun Meadows because of her radiant tan and health from unfiltered vitamin D.
The annual Bare Buns Fun Run at the Kaniksu Family Nudist Resort will take place Sunday, July 30, just a couple of hours west of Sandpoint. Get good directions online and do not be intimidated by the wild lands of the neighboring park that is void of civilization. After around seven miles of dirt roads, you will soon be driving into an oasis of naked people.
If you don’t make the race, you can go any day in the summer to two fairly local nudist resorts (first timers get in free).
I double dog dare you.
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