Paul Rouse of Naturist Travel talks to Carina Moreschi, the new face of naturism in Brazil.
If Jessica Ennis was the poster girl of the London Olympics, then Carina Moreschi could be described as the poster girl of naturism in Brazil. Young, attractive, enthusiastic, intelligent and articulate, she’s the perfect antidote to those naysayers who think that active naturism is the exclusive preserve of pasty-faced, overweight and slightly eccentric old men, and that as a result, naturists are in danger of becoming a dying breed.
Carina’s take on naturism is a refreshingly simple one: you can’t judge it until you have tried it. “And as I found out,” she says, “once you have tried it, why would you want to live your life any other way?”
Along with her long-term partner Marcelo Pacheco, Carina is co-founder of the Portuguese-language www.brasilnaturista.com website, which has the dual aim of promoting naturism in Brazil and of disseminating information about naturist destinations worldwide to Brazilian readers. Launched in 2001, the site currently has around 6,000 registered readers, and Carina has recently branched out by publishing a photo-travel book showcasing naturism in Europe.
“The book started off as a labour of love,” she explains, “inspired by my own journeys over the last few years to Portugal, UK, Italy, Croatia, Spain, France and Greece. When it’s winter in Brazil, it’s summer in Europe, so it’s the ideal time for Brazilians to go travelling, and if they’re naturists, there are so many great locations and beaches to visit.”
Carina was introduced to naturism by Marcelo when they met as students, and it has become an important element of their personal and professional lives together. Graduating with a degree in media studies, Carina was able to combine her twin interests of journalism and naturism when she was offered a job by the Brazilian Federation of Naturism, working on their magazine. From that experience came the idea to launch the www.pelados.com.br naturist website (‘pelados’ means peeled in Portuguese), which then evolved into the more international-focused Brasil Naturista.
“It’s a small but growing set-up,” says Carina, “and we both get involved in writing, photography, designing and selling advertising space. We also travel a fair amount, throughout Brazil and abroad, researching naturist destinations and meeting fellow naturists. Technology is becoming increasingly important both for collecting and spreading information, and through websites, blogs and social media, I think the naturist message is getting across to more people.”
Whilst a keen advocate of naturism, Carina is far from being a tub-thumper, and definitely subscribes to the ‘do as I do’ principle rather than the ‘do as I say.’ “Our main goal is to demystify naturism,” she explains, “and in doing so highlight the freedom and sense of well-being that the lifestyle offers. We think we are doing this very effectively, providing a balanced viewpoint, and as a result we are often sought out by the mainstream media whenever they need information or opinions on naturism. Just as importantly, we’re allowing others to discover naturism, by themselves, and in their own time. It’s not something you can, or should, be pressurised into.”
Brazil’s climate of course is certainly conducive to spending a lot of your time naked, and Carina is one of those people who only wears clothes when she really has to - hence the reason she and Marcelo moved a few years ago to live in Colina do Sol, Brazil’s only residential naturist village. Located near Porta Alegre in Rio Grande do Sul, the country’s southernmost state, the village has a relatively small but active full-time population, including those who practice a self-sufficient lifestyle within the village and those, like Carina and Marcelo, who reside there but still have ‘day jobs.’
“I grudgingly put on clothes when I travel into the city,” smiles Carina, “but only because society demands it. I’m far happier being naked, and living here gives us the opportunity to dress, or not, as we please. The motto of Colina do Sol, which in essence sums up my beliefs, is that ‘naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature, characterised by the practice of social nudity, which is intended to encourage self-respect, respect for others, and care for the environment.’
“To some outsiders that might make it sound like some sort of hippy, free-love commune, but nothing could be further from the truth. In every respect, it is just like any other residential community. We have houses, shops, markets, restaurants, and plenty of sport and leisure facilities, and have lots of guest visitors at weekends and during the holidays.”
Naturism is on the rise in Brazil, Carina believes, and whilst lamenting the fact that there is still no law regulating the practice (“everything in Brazil takes time!” she laughs), the practice is becoming more accepted. “There are an increasing number of naturist groups, associations, clubs and venues, as well as beaches where naturism is the norm. I also think that as life becomes more stressful, more people see relaxing pursuits like naturism as a safety valve.
“Society is also changing,” she concludes. “Brazil is so vast and diverse that it’s impossible to make too many generalisations, and there are many anomalies, not least the fact that nudity is common in the media and on the streets during carnival time, and yet we are at heart still a fairly conservative, Catholic country.
“What is heartening however is that naturists are no longer seen as being strange or perverted in the eyes of the establishment, and several state governments are waking up to the potential of naturism as an important niche of the tourism industry.”
And is the younger generation being attracted to the practice of naturism? “Slowly,” she concedes. “In my opinion the reason for this is very simple: body acceptance. When you're younger, nudity is often linked with sex and eroticism, and too many of us are obsessed with aesthetics: it’s fun to be naked if you have a good body to show off, but otherwise we feel - or are made to feel - uncomfortable with the idea. Breaking through this barrier, for many people, can take time, and often only comes with maturity and life experience. It doesn’t matter how many places there are that welcome naturism, or how much is done to encourage young people, the answer is still within themselves to discover the sense of freedom that naturism brings, and understand that all bodies are beautiful, even with their imperfections.”
An old head on young shoulders, it seems.