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  1. Dissatisfaction with one’s own body is evident in many countries. For example, studies such as that conducted by Andrea Pelegrini and Edio Petroski in 2010, involving sample populations from 24 countries, have shown that such poor body image can cause people to radically alter their nutritional intake in an effort to address perceived problems. Sadly, this disaffection can begin in childhood, with the authors stating  A study comprising schoolchildren of secondary education in greater Florianópolis, SC, revealed that 48.2% of these schoolchildren were dissatisfied with their body weight and “Body dissatisfaction is even observed among pre-adolescents”. The link between a positive body image and self-worth has been firmly established, such as in a publication by Hesketh et al.,(2004), which focused on obesity in adolescents.  Furthermore, a demonstrable causality between self-acceptance, self-esteem and satisfaction with life, has been shown in studies including Navarro et al., (2014), which confirmed that “The relation of personal self-esteem to life satisfaction was significant for both genders”. It is, therefore, reasonable to deduce that a positive body image is likely to predict a higher level of life satisfaction, or happiness. Research has found that wider experience of the naked form correlates to an improvement in body image, in both male and female subjects (Swami, 2015). While Swami’s study concerned participants in a life-drawing class, the principle has been shown to apply to those engaging in unclothed activities within a group, known as naturism.  Investigating the link between naturist activities and an improvement in life satisfaction levels As has been shown, the mediating effect of improved body image on self-esteem and of self-esteem on happiness has been widely observed. It is only recently that studies have directly targeted the links between naturism and contentment. K. J. West (2017) sought to observe the effects of naturism on positive body image, self-esteem and happiness, initially through comprehensive surveying and analysis and subsequently via real-life naturist activities.  The initial study: the effects of naturist activity on life satisfaction West hypothesised that greater engagement in naturism would correlate with a higher level of general satisfaction. He recruited 849 British adults with a range of ages, ethnicity, sexuality and across the spectrum of gender. West presented them with a survey designed to ascertain ‘the effects of naturist activity on life satisfaction, mediated by improved body image and self-esteem’ (West, 2017). Without being specific about the survey’s aims, participants were questioned about whether or not they had experience of ‘clothes-free activities’. Discounting those that involve close family or a sexual partner; subsequent questions thoroughly assessed the individuals’ level of self-worth and required them to grade from 1 to 7, representing strongly disagree to strongly agree, statements regarding body image, such as:  I respect my body I do not feel good about my body Despite its flaws, I accept my body for what it is Similarly, a set of questions relating to self-esteem included:  On the whole, I am satisfied with myself I feel that I have a number of good qualities All in all, I am inclined to think that I am a failure While overall satisfaction with life was assessed using questions such as:  In most ways, my life is close to ideal The conditions of my life are excellent I am satisfied with my life Using the scores for these questions, referenced against each respondent’s level of participation in a naturist lifestyle, West presented empirical evidence for his conclusions.  Positive Body Image: Conclusions drawn from Study 1 West’s hypothesis was supported by the data.  The data demonstrated a correlation between active involvement in naturism and higher incidences of overall happiness. This was mediated by a more positive body image and higher self-esteem. Analysis of the data suggests that the positive attitude to body image was not a determining factor in deciding to try naturism, yet rather a result of participating. There was also a reduced effect on improvement in satisfaction with increased involvement in naturist events.  Applying the findings to real naturist activities The second study With the core hypothesis supported, the natural progression was to test how it translated to real-life activities. West identified an opportunity in a pre-arranged nudist event, 'Bare All For Polar Bears'. During this event 24 participants would be walking naked through Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Having obtained permission, the subjects were given questionnaires, shortened versions of the survey in Study 1, to be completed before disrobing. The same questionnaire was presented to them immediately after the event, once they had dressed.  Conclusions drawn from Study 2 Quantitative differences between pre- and post-event scores indicated ‘positive psychological effects’, appearing to support West’s hypothesis. However, caution must be applied due to both the small sample size and the possibility that other aspects had caused this effect. For example, the charitable nature of the event. The positive correlation was not reversible. This means that subjects were not more likely to embrace nakedness because they were already body-confident.  The third study For this element of the research, another pre-arranged event, 'Waterworld', was employed. 100 adults were to remain naked for three hours in a waterpark in Stoke-on-Trent; there was no requirement to take part in particular activities, merely to stay in the park. Again, the method was to administer the same pre- and post-event questionnaires as in Study 2. As established, satisfaction was shown to follow, rather than to predict, naturism.  Conclusions drawn from Study 3 Once again, clear evidence of a constructive effect on happiness, mediated by increased positive body image and higher self-esteem could be observed in the data extrapolated from the questionnaires. From this we can infer a correlation between naturism and satisfaction with one’s life. As in Study 1 and Study 2, the relationship between naturism and high self-esteem and happiness was not shown to be reversible.  Implications of the research findings It's a scientific truism that correlation does not prove causation. Yet it cannot be ruled out that the act of being naked around non-intimate acquaintances increases life satisfaction.  It would necessarily take place through a domino effect of nudity producing a positive body image. This would improve self-esteem and lead to greater happiness. West's observation that the effect of naturism on happiness decreased and involvement in such activities increased suggests that the greatest benefit would be experienced by the majority of the population, who have yet to try naturist socialising. The potential for a non-pharmaceutical approach to improving mental well-being is exciting for clinical practitioners, support organisations and for the individual.     Modelphotos: Colourbox.com  Written by Guest AuthorWe are happy to publish articles by guest authors that will broaden the perspective and bring new insights. If you are interested in publishing an article here on happiness.org please contact us.
  2. I was never one of those skinny girls growing up. For a long time, this bothered me. I never wore a swimsuit, hated shorts even in ninety-degree weather, and I was generally down on myself. My poor body-image and lack of body positivity led to me not taking care of myself because I figured, “What’s the point? I’m going to be fat anyway.”  As I got older and more immersed into body-positive culture, I met a lot of people that were larger than me and sexy as hell. I was shocked how people flocked to them and they had—gasp—cellulite like me! But they didn’t care. They loved every part of themselves. Even if they had struggles at times, overall they were confident.  I wondered what was different about these people and why I couldn’t be more like them. So I started looking at the things they did and compared that to what I was doing.  The first thing I noticed was they all wore swimsuits and they certainly didn’t apologize for it. They didn’t lean over and cover their bodies so no one would see. They stood tall and walked with elegance to the pool or hot tub.  I also noticed that they didn’t walk around in sweatpants and baggy t-shirts. They dressed nice. Groomed. Put effort into their appearance. They believed they were worth that time and effort, so I believed it too.  Developing body positivity I started dressing nicer. Wearing makeup just for fun. I got contacts and stopped hiding my face with glasses. I even started wearing shorter skirts and swimsuits!  But I still wasn’t quite where I wanted to be with my confidence. While I was all for being healthy and losing weight, I knew that I needed to love myself as the ‘fat girl’ before making drastic changes in diet and exercise. Otherwise I’d find something else to pick apart. My teeth, my mom belly, my uneven eyes…  Learning to love my body as it was seemed like the best step. Shortly after this realization, I opened my email to find a note asking if I’d be interested in posing as a figure model. Before I could talk myself out of it, I agreed. I was going to pose nude for a bunch of strangers! It was for a sex-positive/body-positive studio called Catalyst. So they were even looking for someone like me, with a curvier body.  Being a figure model Of course, I was terrified to take off my robe once I got there, but I did it! Once I was in front of everyone, however, I stopped noticing the fact that I was naked. I was far more focused on the chill in the air and the nails not flush in the wall.  Once we were finished, I got to look at the drawings people made of me and I was surprised to find that they were beautiful. I was so happy! People didn’t see me how I thought they did and that helped me see myself clearer. I even came home with an original drawing of me!  Loving myself and developing body positivity hasn’t been easy. It’s taken years and I do occasionally fall back into bad habits. But when that happens, I remember how others saw me. Then I take a deep breath and do something loving for myself.     Modelphotos: Colourbox.com      Written by Sienna Saint-CyrSienna Saint-Cyr is an author, advocate, and the founder of SinCyr Publishing. She speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on the importance of having a healthy body image, understanding enthusiastic consent, using sexuality to promote healing, navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships, having Complex PTSD, and more. Sienna loves sharing her journey of healing and finding happiness with her readers. Along with writing erotica and romance, Sienna speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on such sex-positive topics as a healthy body image, using sexuality to promote healing, and navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships. She writes for several websites. Find out more at https://siennasaintcyr.wordpress.com/.
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