When I say the term "nude beach," chances are a very specific image pops into your mind. Nude beaches are the source of many stereotypes and built-in preconceptions, most of which generally call to mind images of grinning sunburnt middle-aged German men with saggy butts and an exhibitionist streak. But the reality is that nudist beaches don’t attract only old eccentrics, and are as varied as the beaches themselves; each with its own vibe, from family-friendly to hippy. Nudist beaches vary hugely from country to country.
They also vary in levels of strictness. The ones I have been to encourage nudity, but do not enforce it. You don’t have to be naked in order to hang out on most nudist beaches. Most people end up topless and in thongs even though a lot of people indeed end up naked, but no one is concerned if someone else isn’t naked enough.
The tolerance and sense of freedom associated with being naked is the common ground among all nudist beaches. And that’s why, in honor of National Nude Day, I'd argue that you should be seeking out nudist beaches this summer as a woman and a feminist.
1. You Actually Feel Less Objectified
The beach is usually one of the most daunting places for women, where we prep ourselves to be scrutinized from top to toe by prying eyes. But nudist beaches are fairly free from the beach-catwalk phenomenon. They are places where a variety of body shapes and forms are being exposed for the purposes of freedom and mutual acceptance, rather than for the purposes of ogling. The result is that you soon realize that no one is staring at you, and you stop staring at anyone in return. It's liberating!
2. The Only Thing That Isn’t Cool Is Shame
The only thing I ever saw cause friction on a nudist beach was someone feeling shame or causing someone else to feel shame. The more tied to your appearance and self-consciousness you were, the more likely you were to cause stares and puzzled looks. To feel ashamed of yourself is to possibly feel ashamed of others — and that's the only no-no on a nude beach. The result is more body acceptance on your part.
3. You Feel Free
Nowhere is the naked female body freer than on a nudist beach. Women surf, read the paper, and eat sandwiches with all their most censored bits exposed — and it isn’t for the purpose of being sexy. The images of female nudity on nudist beaches are totally unlike the hyper-sexualized images we’re familiar with. They are functional bodies that perform activities and are not projected upon. Women are made to feel comfortable in their naked bodies without the restrictions of being objects of desire or beauty, and it’s infinitely liberating.
4. Breastfeeding Is Easier
How breastfeeding went from a simple and inconspicuous part of nurturing to something to be censored is further proof of the fact that women’s bodies are all to often used as a battleground. Nudist beaches are full of naked and half-naked women publicly breastfeeding with zero f***s given, as it should be.
5. You Don't Have To Stress Over A Swimsuit
Swimsuit shopping is something of a nightmare. Nudist beaches eliminate this worry for women, who don’t have to care too much what they wear, since most of it will come off anyway. Plus, no uneven tan lines!
6. You're Actually Less Likely To Get Hit On
Nudist beaches have people on their best behavior, not only because they breed an atmosphere of mutual respect, but also because the consequences of PDA can be potentially embarrassing, nay disastrous. This extends to getting hit on. Men on nudist beaches tend to have subscribed to the rules of respect and no-ogling, and consequently are the friendliest, least sleazy beach neighbors you could hope for.