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The Naked Truth
July 23,2006
** Paige Lauren Deiner
Monitor Staff Writer

My hand shook as I stood in the bathroom of Nature’s Resort, smearing suntan lotion on parts of me that had never seen the light of day.

“What was I thinking?” I asked myself, as I turned the doorknob and walked naked to a locker where I placed my carefully folded clothes.

I wrapped a towel around my shoulders, wishing it could hide a little more, picked up a book and walked to the pool.

Taking a deep breath, I quickened my pace as I passed nude sunbathers, threw my towel onto the lounge chair farthest from people, stuck my nose into the book and tried to disappear.

One chapter in, I started to sweat. The Texas sun, even at 10 a.m., is powerful. Feeling my shoulders, stomach and feet burning, I jumped into the pool. I thought about how strange I felt and what a weird experience this was. A few minutes later, cooler and ready to dive into my book, I left the pool. Three steps out of the water, I heard someone call my name.

“Paige! You’re the reporter for The Monitor, right?” the woman asked.

“That’s me,” I said, seriously regretting my cap, which sported the company’s logo.

“I’m Toni,” the woman said. “This is my husband, Nick.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, extending my hand to the couple, who have lived in the resort for the past six years. Inside, I cringed: I was dripping wet, naked and shaking the hand of an equally naked stranger.

I gave myself a pep talk — I can do this. This is like any other interview, it’s just that no one has clothes on.

Placing myself into the role of reporter, I began to relax.

After about an hour of talking to Toni, Nick and other residents from behind my dark glasses, my eyes stopped drifting from peoples’ face and I discovered something that I had always known philosophically: We are all, essentially, the same. Some people are a little larger or smaller, but when comes down to it, everyone’s parts are the same.

My wandering eyes also gave me a sense of self-confidence. The vast majority of women do not look like supermodels. Like me, they have stretch marks and bulges, weird veins and wrinkles. A friend once told me that our skin is just a body bag for our souls. A few hours in a nudist resort made those words ring true.

Then my eyes stopped wandering altogether. Instead of looking at people’s bodies, I concentrated on their facial expressions. I looked them in the eye and listened to the residents’ stories, experiences and opinions.

I felt like I was sitting at the Lewes Yacht Club in Delaware, where I grew up, hearing the tales of sailors and fishermen. The stories at Nature’s Resort varied. Some were about experiences in nudism — like the one about Toni’s son, who was trying to skydive into a resort only to be blown off track. He landed intact — and naked — on a nearby highway. She laughed as she recalled the group of resort residents who jumped into their golf carts to rescue him from embarrassment, only to realize they were naked themselves. So, they met him at the door to the resort where they found him “clothed,” the parachute wrapped around him like a cloak.

There were dozens of stories. Some focused on family, some on politics, and I had the sense this could be any RV community or club anywhere. The only difference was these people told their stories nude.

By the end of the day, I had shed my fear of being naked in front of people. I felt accepted, part of a warm and caring community.

As I dressed for the ride home, I realized something: I liked not worrying about whether a pair of jeans made my rear end look big, or if my shirt was too tight.

I enjoyed letting people get to know me — not the package I’m wrapped in.
** Paige Lauren Deiner covers features and entertainment for The Monitor. You can reach her at (956) 683-4425.

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