Birthday Suiting The Beach and Nude Beach for the Confident
You’ve thought about it. You’ve sheepishly done a Google image search. You look into the options with every coastal city that you explore. So what is keeping you from stripping down to your birthday suit and hitting the sand? And don’t tell me that you are uncomfortable with the idea of scrubbing sand out of your orifices, because that is par for the course-covered or skimpy.
The truth of the matter is that nude beaches scare the living bejeebers out of most people who aren’t from a culture where they are customary.
This fear is rooted in a cultural modesty has developed over hundreds of years, and is thus nothing to be ashamed of. Nude beaches are hardly par for the course. They are a conversation starter for a reason. Most people find them fascinating, even if they would never consider joining the party. When there are so many cultures that value modesty, some to the point of covering nearly all of their flesh even on the coast and in the oppressive heat, it only makes sense that the thought of a nude beach would send prickles of anxiety up the spines of many.
One the other side of that coin is the normalcy of such a custom in many cultures. In many parts of the world nude beaches are seen as standard and modesty is the foreign concept. I suppose there is something to be said for no tan lines.
If you do decide to come around to the skimpy side, there is some etiquette that you should be aware of. For starters, staring happens. A friend of mine once went to a nude thermal bath in Germany. She said that since everyone was nude, there was nothing to be ashamed of…just so long as you were okay with people staring at your nude body. She remarked that she felt relative discomfort. However, once she was in the water she was fine.
I had a similar experience at a beach in Barcelona, Spain. The beach, while not an entirely nude beach, did permit topless-ness. The number of topless women was by far the majority, so I actually felt uncomfortable with my top on. Upon removing it, I felt awkward for a few minutes. After a few minutes, I actually enjoyed the feeling of the sunshine on my breasts and didn’t even think to notice my own modesty. As a matter of a fact, I stayed like that for some time. All was well and good until, while walking down the beach with my boyfriend, I came across a few Americans speaking English. I was so delighted after over a month of travel to see my own country people that I ran up to them and exclaimed, “Oh! Where are you from?” We talked for a couple of minutes before I realized that their red cheeks were not a consequence of the sun, but of my bare breasts. This was the only moment I felt uncomfortable, this moment where I was forced to face someone from my own culture in a state that I knew was novel for the both of us.
At some nude beaches, there are rules about physical affection. Nudity is welcome, but overt physical displays of affection are prohibited for the sake of decency. I suppose the grounds for such rules are that two nude lovers engaging in amorous relations are more likely to escalate when there is no clothing confining such behavior. I find the rules of this somewhat vague. What is over the top? I think the excessive is fairly obvious. But do you draw the line with rubbing sunscreen on your lover’s nude body? Is kissing okay, but fondling not? This may be one of those circumstances in life where behaving as those around you do is the safest route.
I have heard from numerous people who have attended nude beaches that they attended, but did not remove their clothing. They said it was “fine”. Now, while it may be “fine” that isn’t always the case. Some nude beaches require nudity. It makes sense. If you attend a nude beach with the anticipation of remaining a spectator, you do run a certain risk of making the nude attendees uncomfortable. By remaining clothed, you are turning the rest of the beach goers into a spectacle and you are setting yourself apart as an outsider and a tourist. So I would prefer to call clothing on a nude beach condonable as opposed to “fine”.
My aunt confided in me her first nude beach experience. She was seventeen and in Europe for her first time. My uncle had taken her to Germany for a summer vacation. She admitted that she was far too ashamed to remove her swimsuit entirely, and settled for just removing her top. After a few minutes of watching the other people on the beach she permitted my uncle to accompany her on walk down the beach. Remember what I said about how staring just happens in such an environment? She was absolutely mortified as she was walking down the beach and she just-so-happened to view the genitals of a man walking towards them.
“What’s wrong with him?” my aunt exclaimed.
Turns out my aunt had never seen an uncircumcised penis.
Inspired by my aunts story, I would now like to squeeze in my very own ethnocentric opinion. I come from a culture where modesty is valued. I wouldn’t say that we hold it up on a pedestal like some places that I have traveled to, but I also wouldn’t say that letting it all hang out would be seen as acceptable. In my culture, it is seen as a positive thing to be selective about who you choose to see naked during your life. Puritan influenced? Absolutely. Something I argue against? Not hardly. I mean, I wouldn’t travel to a nude beach with my parents or my grandparents. And I wouldn’t want to see their friends naked either. Nude beaches are, in my opinion, something that for the sake of experience I would suggest to people. I enjoy pushing my limitations as a traveler and a human being. However, I would never consider becoming a frequent visitor.
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