IT wasn't until Barry Evans experienced his first outdoor adventure with naturists that he finally felt "accepted" - not just by the world but himself.

Barry, who lives near the North Yorkshire border, describes himself as "short, overweight and shall we say not hugely gifted" - characteristics that he began to own and celebrate since joining the community as a teenager.

Describing himself as a "full time naturist", Barry works from home and only dresses when he has to. His wife is not a naturist but supports his lifestyle.

There is a whole community right here in Yorkshire with social media pages like 'Skinny Dipping in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District' acting as a safe space to organise meet up's in some of the county's most beautiful places.

What is naturism?

  • UK organisation British Naturism describes it as "the practice of going without clothes - whether that is just occasionally at a beach or in your garden, or as a more general part of everyday life."
  • It is celebrated as a community of body positivity with people of all shapes and sizes involved.

So, for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we asked Barry why he loves being a part of the nudist community and how it helped him overcome years of bullying and shame about his body.

"Naturism is peaceful, strip away clothes and stress," Barry said.

"Everyone is equal and the naturist community are nice and respectful."

"I know a lot of people find it strange. But it really is worth trying if you get the chance. People have hangups about their bodies. I'm short, overweight and, shall we say, not hugely gifted, but it doesn't matter.

"Everyone is accepted and it has given me such a boost with body positivity.

"Many people believe naturists are either body beautiful or weird. My nude friends and I like to promote the normalising of nudity. It's for everyone.

"People miss out on so much hiding away. No one is judged for their body."

Barry first tried out naturism when he was 18 years old after a work colleague suggested the idea.

"I was unsure and terrified at the thought," he said.

"She reassured me and came with me. It was amazing, a huge weight lifted and people didn’t stare or comment.

"I was accepted for being a person. It went from there. Eventually I plucked up courage and told family which was initially met with hostility, but they have come round to it now.

"When I met my wife she accepted my choice without issue and has joined me on holidays. She comes with me to clothing optional occasions, sometime she joins in sometimes not. It's up to her with no pressure from me.

"I work from home so am naked most of the time. My home life is mainly naked and my garden is secluded so I can wander freely there."

Barry's story is one that many in the nudist community can relate to. And, in a bid to raise awareness and money for Prostate Cancer support after a member was diagnosed, the community will be holding a Skinny Dipping event on August 1, 2021.

The event - which will also mark Yorkshire Day - will be held at a soon-to-be revealed Yorkshire location with all ticket sales going towards the cause.

Anyone who wishes to take part should join Facebook group 'Skinny Dipping in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District'.