Two East Germans are talking at the nudist beach.
“Have you read Marx?” one asks.
“Yes. I think it’s from the wicker chairs,” replies the other.
While that joke may not be particularly funny there is something inherently amusing about nude beaches.
Growing up in Europe, I’m used to seeing a bit of flesh. Topless sunbathing is almost de rigueur on continental beaches. Skimpy bikinis and tiny speedos have long been the only thing protecting the modesty of men and women of all ages and nationalities from the Baltic beaches to the Turquoise Coast.
But stripping off, going Full Monty, letting it literally all hang out, well that’s an entirely different affair.
Nude beaches – or Clothing Optional as the politically correct crowd now declare them to be – are a rarer find and attract a different beachgoer too. There are some important rules anyone thinking of going bare needs to follow. Here are my five tips if you do get the urge to strip off.
The ’70s were the heyday of the naturist movement. So many were enjoying the au naturel experience they had their own publications, volleyball leagues, and holiday resorts. In the South of France, an entire clothing-optional town, Cap D’Adge, was created where shoppers can ride their bikes to the boulangerie unencumbered by ‘textile’ – that’s how naturists describe clothing!
But while the 24/7 naked lifestyle may appeal to some, it is important to know where the actual boundaries are, physically and culturally.
If you think you are on a nude beach when you really are just lying on a public beach with all your wares on show, that’s likely to culminate in a lengthy discussion with the local police department. And when leaving the nude beach for a cold drink or to grab a six-inch baguette for lunch, put your shorts back on, wrap yourself in a towel or a robe. It’s good practice and good hygiene – no one wants to sit on the bench your naked ass has just vacated.
Put down the phone. Step away from the camera. These are sure-fire ways to get your bare rump kicked. Also, don’t gawk. Naturists aren’t there to be ogled or stared at.
Actually, if it is a bit of mild titillation you are expecting, prepare to be roundly disappointed. More often than not, the people stripping off around you will look more like the folks you see in the supermarket or the FedEx guy, who delivers your packages than something out of the pages of Playboy or the high number movie channels.
Nude beachgoers typically aren’t supermodels or chiseled hunks, they will be as weird and wonderful as just about anyone else, so expect bellies, droopy bits, hairy patches, and sights you perhaps would rather not have seen.
Hiding behind your reflective sunglasses’ lens won’t work either, better take a book or a pack of cards to keep you from getting ‘distracted’.
Your bare bits probably haven’t seen the sun in a long while. While it might be liberating to feel the warm tingle of the sun at first, unguarded they can become crisp and burnt.
While a little sun-kissed color on your face may make you glow and look healthy, the same can’t be said for your cheeks down there.
So, Factor-50 liberally applied is a pre-requisite for a day at the nude beach, with special attention to the areas on which the sun don’t normally shine, or the rest of your holiday could be reduced to uncomfortable itching in the most un-scratchable of places.
While extreme nudity may get you ‘in the mood’ for some romance, remember you are still on a beach, surrounded by others, in plain view, not a bedroom.
It’s OK to have a hug or a kiss with your significant other, as you would in a restaurant or a park, but this isn’t the place for heavy petting or anything more. And gentlemen, if all that jiggling flesh may prove to be a little too stimulating, make sure you have a towel or cover-up at hand to protect us all from any situation… erm … arising.
The reason people do strip off is to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of being at one with your body. Ditching the textiles and stretching out in all your glory should be an invigorating experience leaving you relaxed and content.
Research shows people who enjoy naturism or nude sunbathing have a more comfortable relationship with their bodies, tend not to worry about the little, or sizeable, differences we all have, and generally have higher self-esteem.
The sun itself is an important source of goodness. Vitamin D is a boost for the skin, bones, and immune system. Shedding those tight yoga pants, skinny jeans and form-fitting t-shirts lets the skin breathe, sweat naturally, and avoid ugly rashes and irritations.
IF you do choose to explore nude beaches, follow these rules and I’m sure you’ll have fun wearing nothing but a smile on your face.