3 weeks ago, I had a revelation about my body and the life it carries when I stripped down to nothing at a nudist beach in Mexico. Just a few years back, I would have passed on the chance to take my clothes off and swim naked in the ocean with other people nearby. In a digital age where things can quickly get sexual with a click on our phones, I think it is important to shift the conversation about nudity. In 2014, there was an iCloud hack that leaked celebrities’ nude pictures which they had taken in the privacy of their home and for their partners. Why and how did our bodies become so controversial in our culture? Perhaps a visit to a nudist beach is an ideal opportunity to explore what it is that our bodies truly represent and do. Consider your body as a vehicle for you to live and experience everything the world has to offer…And the world offers a lot more than sex.
There are countries where nudity is not a taboo topic, and being “seen” by strangers does not shoot signals of anxiety in people’s minds. Japan can be an example. My 1st trip to Japan was 10 years ago. I could not bring myself to visiting a public onsen—a hot spring where people bathe together naked. Going to an onsen is a magical and rejuvenating experience, a bucket list item when traveling Japan. On my second trip there I finally braved my insecurities and joined my friends and strangers in what was to me “a giant bath for people to look at each other’s everything.” I was 20 years old at the time. When I was a child there was nothing spectacular about the naked body. I remember taking showers with my mom and my cousins. Somehow, in my teens and 20’s it became impossible not to feel embarrassed by “private” body parts.
Visiting this beach raised some provoking questions in my mind. What made this nudist beach unique was that it was not closed to people not willing to strip down. I guess that just makes it a normal beach with the added bonus you’re allowed to take off your bathing suit. It made me uncomfortable at first. Was I giving away too much of myself to “the crowd”? Was this showing a lack of respect for privacy? And was I okay with possibly being seen by others that were not willing to also undress? Would anyone be attracted to me or would they be indifferent—and should I be offended by either of those responses?
Once sunshine reached all the parts of me it hadn’t yet touched, and the breeze caressed my free breasts that were no longer oppressed by the tightness of a push-up bathing suit, I could no longer be bothered with questions. My doubt suddenly felt juvenile, and so I held my boyfriend’s hand and we made our way to the crystal clear water. I was in paradise. I was transported back to a time of creation, a time of wonder and innocence. I felt cleansed, I felt young, I felt grateful, and I felt stripped of any sense of time. I wondered why we spend so much time covering up. Suddenly, nudity felt normal and being covered up all day, every day felt out of norm.
My partner and I smiled and giggled. I do not think I will ever forget the image of him giggling naked in the ocean, the sunlight making his hair more golden, and his blue eyes enhanced by the sea. The funny thing is that there was nothing sexual about that image and memory. This experience was bathed in a pure energy of joy and innocence. He did not seem the slightest bit worried about others observing, commenting on or judging the size of his penis. Not one person looked embarrassed or preoccupied. I do not think I ever once wondered if the shape of my breasts was right, or if the love handles on my waist are coming back or not. This was a completely different thought process than the one I have when I am trying on clothes in a store, where I kindly remind myself that the lighting in changing rooms is not always flattering, and I have to make a conscious effort to keep all my thoughts positive.
We are exposed to advertisement that makes us think clothes have to fit a certain way. Sure, there are companies like LuluLemon and Third Love that are making strides in contributing to positive body image. Still, our bodies have become sex symbols to companies selling us ways to look attractive. Our bodies do so much more than have sex, so where is the fascination coming from? Being nude in a stunning natural spot made me aware that my body is doing a spectacular job at carrying me through this awesome life I love waking up to! This is how I am shifting the nudity conversation in my head.
In a survey done by Psychology Today, “more than a third of all men and women say that unpleasant sexual experiences are moderately to very important in causing negative feelings of their body. But an even greater percentage—70 percent of men and 67 percent of women—feel that good sexual experiences contribute to satisfactory feelings about their bodies.” Our body image and sexuality are connected, so I am not looking to obliterate the sexual aspect but to embrace it as a small part of something bigger, which is the life we live and how we choose to lead it.
Would you ever go to nudist beach?
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