An important new study by Professor Keon West of Goldsmith’s University, London, reveals that, starting from an early age, spending time naked has positive effects on our mental health that stay with us throughout our lives.
There is a natural instinct to protect children from harm, and there is a widespread belief that exposure even to simple, non-sexual nudity can be harmful to children. The study suggests that there is no evidence that this is true – and that such a “fear-based” approach may itself be harmful.
The study, funded by the International Naturist Federation and by British Naturism, reveal three key findings:
1) Adults who grew up in families with a positive attitude to nudity have better body image, better self-esteem, and better overall mental health.
2) There were indications that children living in a family environment where nudity is commonplace may have a better body image.
3) There was no evidence of an association between nudity in childhood and negative outcomes.
Mental health problems associated with poor body image are widespread in the world and the study suggests that those with negative assumptions about Naturism to reconsider their views and that isolating children from nudity may be against the child’s best interests. As Professor West himself says:
“Given the consistent and growing body of evidence that participation in Naturism leads to positive outcomes, we should consider the potential harm caused by denying certain people (including younger people) access to these activities.”