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Nudism: Stick It to Your Puritan Forebears By Stripping Down

Nudism might be a marginalized lifestyle today, but eons ago it was all the rage. And no wonder: public nudity is natural, healthy and fun.

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The water is brown and warm -- like wading into Starbucks venti espresso -- and I'm not imagining the feeling that something is crawling up my leg. It turns out to be air -- bubbles made by the artificial aeration of the lake, which Dean Hadley had already told me about.

"They're only bad if they get in your nose," said a brainy-sounding young man covered only in tattoos, referring to bacteria. The fact that others have even considered it makes me feel like less of a dork. My nerves pass like a cramp and finally the moment arrives.

As the countdown begins, the crowd is starting to cheer, photographers begin to set up on tall ladders to get us all in the picture, and employees are egged on to strip down and get in (which they all do). We cheer, we wave, we all turn around for a butt shot, and when the official picture is taken and time is called, Cypress Cove will have contributed 403 naked booties to nudist history.

As we start the exodus from the water, there's a feeling of camaraderie and accomplishment, even though the full count won't be ready for several weeks. Especially now, when the world feels so uncertain, taking the time to enjoy something as simple as the sun on your naked skin feels rich and important. A record number of people across North America got together today, looked at all the economic problems, international tensions, bad news, self-doubt and social convention -- and showed the world their sunny side.

Or they mooned the whole damn thing, depending on how you your mind works.

Liz Langley is a freelance writer in Orlando, Fla.