Instagram sensation Stella Cordes is part of a new generation of naturists putting the enjoyment back into the lifestyle.
It is received wisdom within the world of naturism that a large majority of people who practice the pastime fit into the ‘mature’ age bracket. Join many naturist clubs, groups or associations, and it is certainly true that a sizeable percentage of your fellow naturists will be fifty-, sixty- or even seventy-something, perhaps keener on rules and regulations than anything else.
But social media, despite its well-documented restrictions and shortcomings, is helping to introduce a new generation to naturism: or perhaps more accurately, helping a new generation to shape its own definition of what naturism is.
Stella Cordes, a 23-year-old model, photographer and nude enthusiast from the Netherlands, is a case in point, and in a very short space of time - primarily due to the power of her Instagram page @a.naked.girl - has managed to turn a fun idea into what, for the time being at least, constitutes her main ‘job’.
And when you are young, free and single, why would you want the stresses of a serious career and the daily grind of commuting when you can travel around the world “chasing the sun” as Stella describes it, naked for a large part of it, and earn more than enough to fund your current lifestyle whilst you work out exactly what you want to do in the future?
“I’ve been happy to be naked from when I was little,” she explains, “although I’m not entirely sure where that came from. I certainly didn’t connect it to naturism, and none of my family were what you would term naturists, so it wasn’t a case of me being introduced to naturism. I just had the urge to undress whenever possible. I was the one you would see topless on a textile beach and my other friends would keep their clothes on.”
A Naked Girl, which has expanded beyond Instagram and now also encompasses a website, a blog, a Facebook page and accounts on Twitter, Vimeo and Tumblr, started by accident in the summer of 2017. “I was in Australia,” explains Stella, “making a road trip through the country by car. I came across a lot of secluded places and pristine beaches that were just crying out for me to be naked. One day I met some people who were involved with an Instagram page called Get Naked Australia. The premise was simple: people taking photos of themselves with no clothes on amongst the country’s amazing landscapes. I found the concept fun and exciting. So, one night I sat by a campfire with a beer and thought it would be a nice idea to create a page of my own and see how it went. I had no great ambitions or goals for it at that stage, but the number of followers kept rising and rising every day. It felt good to do it and it became a mission to continue my page.”
The response has been phenomenal. A Naked Girl currently has over 250,000 followers on Instagram, 18,000 on Twitter, 3900 on Facebook and 2000 on Vimeo, whilst her blog posts on various aspects of naturism regularly attract over 1500 hits each. Mainly photo-led, with crisply written captions, A Naked Girl also includes short travelogues and a nude cooking series, and encourages participation from fellow writers, photographers and artists who are equally keen to promote the naked lifestyle and naked self-expression. Not surprisingly, the project now takes up a large amount of her time, but having returned from Australia, Indonesia and Thailand after more than a year travelling, Stella has already got itchy feet again, and is planning her next trip. “I had done several mundane jobs to save up enough to travel to Australia in the first place, and when I got back to the Netherlands, I felt there was very little to return to. I have recently bought an old camper van that I’m renovating and will start travelling again this summer. My first destination will be Scandinavia, and after that I’d like to see more of eastern Europe. But I have no set route - my plans can change by the day.”
Being such a free spirit, it is not hard to see why Stella describes herself on her website as an advocate for non-sexual nude recreation, body positivity and artistic expression. “I’m no guru,” she laughs, “but the feedback I receive from people is overwhelming. I get asked a lot of questions about naturism and being nude, and I hope I can help on that. I’ve seen followers going from being closet nudists to taking their first naked steps in company, and finally emerging completely confident with social nudity. When they tell me how much they now enjoy being naked, I’m elated.”
There has, inevitably, also been something of a backlash, both from the prudes in the textile world and some of the self-styled ‘purists’ within the naturist movement, but Stella takes it in her stride. Being young, slim, blonde or attractive is enough to bring out the green-eyed monster of jealousy in many people. If you are all of the above, and also happen to enjoy taking your clothes off, watch out!
“In the beginning, I think some saw me as just an attention-seeker trying to build up followers. I could understand that to a degree because I guess some of my photos are what could be considered a little sexy compared to what many think naturism should express. But I’ve always said a fireman can be a nudist, so why can’t a model? I’d also like to think my photos are more about fun, and the sheer pleasure of being naked, especially in nature. I have been lucky enough to see some amazing places, walk through untouched landscapes, and swim on incredible beaches. Why wouldn’t you want to enjoy them naked? And share that enjoyment with others? As the project has grown, I’ve met a lot of other genuine naturists who have seen what I am doing, and am currently working closely with the Dutch naturist federation, who certainly now see me as a ‘normal’ girl who simply enjoys being naked as much as they do.”
As for the future, who knows? A Naked Girl has generated an incredible amount of interest, not least from the tabloid press (a double-edged sword if ever there was one, of course) and whilst Stella admits that “social media has been a good platform to help me share some of the causes I believe in, in reality I would have to say that, given the choice, I don’t really like it! At heart, I’m a nature lover: the kind of person who likes to disconnect from the grid whenever they can and get as far away from cities and masses of people as possible. So, I always call it a love-hate relationship.
“My goal is to set up a small nudist resort or B&B in a warm country. My dream location at the moment would be in Australia itself, but it might be hard given the immigration situation. But I’m not in any hurry. I’m at an age where I still have a lot to learn and a whole world to explore.”
Naked, of course.
© Paul Rouse 2019
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