What Nudists Taught Me About Body Positivity

Barbie Ferreira speaks to a body painter and visits a naturist colony—in the nude—to see how different people practice body acceptance.

In this episode of How to Behave, our host Barbie Ferreira—who first blew up as a model on Instagram in large part because of her body positivity message—learns how to take body acceptance to the next level. "Many of us are self conscious about our bodies because we're very much still judged on how we look," says Barbie. "So I'm on a journey to see if it's possible to love your body whole heartedly."


Her first stop is a meeting with Monica Hernandez, a young painter from the Bronx whose work focuses on identity and depicting women's bodies without censorship. Hernandez has a large following on Instagram where she posts both her art and images of herself, including her body hair. "Sometimes it gets really dark," she says of the comments she receives on the platform. "I used to hate having body hair… but when I stopped shaving that's when I really grew into myself and was able to realize this is what my body does and it does it for a reason."

Next, Barbie heads to the park to interview random people about their thoughts on body image and grooming. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, she finds that while the men she speaks with hardly shave or groom, they have strict hairless preferences when it comes to women. But who has time for men that live by double standards anyway?

Her final and most exciting stop is the Rock Lodge Club where she meets the Young Naturists of America, a body positive nudist community. But Barbie doesn't just visit them; instead, she spends an entire day in the nude amongst the community to see what their lifestyle is really about. Felicity Jones, a member of Young Naturists of America, shows Barbie around and explains that body acceptance is one of the main reasons people are drawn to naturism. "They come and they try it and they're like Wow, nobody's looking at me!" she says. Barbie joins the group as they make a camp fire, complete a body positivity exercise, paint on each other, and, of course, skinny dip.

By the end of her visit, Barbie learns that it's possible to cultivate a safe space for our bodies when we're not so preoccupied with who is looking at them and what they're thinking. "Coming to the Rock Lodge I've learned that people tend to judge each other on their bodies, their clothing, the way they speak, but here, it's a designated safe space," she says. "The missions of naturists are pretty much everything I'm about: body positivity, anti-censorship, a good self image. Being here you can feel whole because you're more than just your body—you're a person."