In the upcoming season of Naked and Afraid, the showrunners are shaking things up by giving two superfans their own episode. Normally, the television show only features elite survivalists who understand how to cope in extreme environments with no clothes and no supplies.
At first, it may seem crazy that two regular people would want to put themselves in that situation, but they may just already know they’re going to have good time naked and outside. This notion is true, according to a new study in the Journal of Happiness Studies: Nakedness doesn’t lead to fear, according to psychologist Keon West, Ph.D., of the University of London. Instead, being naked outside is correlated with improved body image, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
West came to this conclusion after conducting three studies. In the first, 848 Brits were brought in and asked to participate in a study on the relationship between social activities and well-being. The 738 men, 94 women, and 16 non-binary gender individuals were not told that the study was focused on what happens when you’re naked outside — in other words, “naturist” activities. They filled out a survey to inform the researchers whether they’ve participated in “clothes-free activities” (excluding private moments) and, if so, how often. They were also asked to rank their own body image, self-esteem, and overall life satisfaction.
West found a consistent correlation between high rankings of body image, self-esteem, and life satisfaction among the people who spent the most time naked outdoors. Furthermore, he found that the more people were nude in nature, the happier they were. In other words, those who had body confidence would announce something along the lines of, “Here we are, all naked, and that makes me feel better about myself,” rather than, simply, “I’m confident in my own body.”
He breaks down these results in a video made by the University of London:
The psychology lecturer then decided to take the study a step further and interview people who actually participated in nudist fun. In a second study, West interviewed willing participants at an organized event called “Bare all for Polar Bears,” and in a third, he spoke with people at a three-hour long naked get-together at a water park. West’s surveys at each event led to the same results: Ratings for body image, self-esteem, and life satisfaction were higher for everyone after they completed the naked, outdoor activity.
In his paper “Naked and Unashamed,” West explains that these results prove what naturist organizations have been saying for decades — being naked outside makes you happy. Body image dissatisfaction is, he writes, “a serious, global, problem that negatively affects life satisfaction.” People try to cope with society’s expectations with gym memberships and by downing shady protein powder, when taking a naked walk in the woods is what they really need.
Being nude outside appears to be a “low-cost, widely available solution to the problem of body dissatisfaction” — and will make you feel a hell of a lot better than googling gym membership costs from the office.