Why You Should Visit A Nude Beach
i feel like the response to why you should visit a nude beach will either be met with “omg YES! it’s an amazing thing to do” or “omg NO! are you insane?!” and you pull your sweater a little closer.
hear me out.
about 45 minutes out of portland there is a place called sauvie island. you can pick berries, visit farms, and enjoy a sandy beach along the columbia river with stretch of it that is clothing optional. who doesn’t love options, right?
i had a lot of anxiety going those first few times when we moved to portland and my option always included a well-knotted bathing suit. for me, the concept or mere idea of being naked in front of strangers…um…no thank you. nudity, for me, was always closely tied with sex and intimacy, none of which i wanted from any of the strangers on the beach. ew.
once there, i sat and stared at the water, checking every few minutes that all of my lady parts were tucked in nicely. eventually i started becoming more comfortable with seeing people pass by instead of wincing like a weirdo by each naked person that passed. it wasn’t like i was gawking at them or being a creeper, but i took notice of all of the different shapes and sizes of the men and women who strolled by on the beach.
then i started noticing families and honestly at first i was somewhat horrified. how could anyone bring innocent children to this place?! then i realized they were laughing, splashing and playing like kids on the beach do except they were doing it in the buff. they didn’t care one bit. it was just…normal.
i started pondering if you could indeed be nude and it be nothing related to sex or intimacy but rather just being. i mean, they do it on beaches in europe! we all basically have the same parts and i started thinking how we function in our society of seeing naked bodies. it seems like either it’s way overly sexualized or it’s taboo unless you are in a relationship with that person.
i have taken two strong insights from visiting the clothing optional beach.
# 1 – it’s very empowering to see people of all different weights be so comfortable in their own skin, exactly as they are. no spanx to hold their stomachs in and no push up bras to push the twins out. they were being, just as they are.
#2 – we, as a society, have hyped up the naked human body. women still cannot be topless in public but men can (instagram keeps kicking chelsea handler off of it because she continues to challenge this). why can a naked body evoke such a wide range of feelings and for many of us, it can be so negative or shameful?
also, this is a family friendly place. no one is doing it in the bushes (which i had fears of), no one is tying to pick up a date but the threat of sand in unwanted places is indeed a real thing.
it took a few times over the course of the summer we first moved here until i became slightly more courageous to dare to undo the top of my bikini and if it fell down, “so what.” to be honest, the first “so what,” turned into me feeling intense embarrassment, like to the point i begged my husband that it was time for us to go home.
the next time, after some liquid courage in the form of wine from a box, i undid the top of bikini and simply sat on my towel, pretending like i was totally cool with the fact my ladies were getting sun for the first time in their lives. you know when kids put sunglasses on and then they pretend like you can’t see them? that was me, chilling in my shades and pretending like i was invisible. i was still freaking out pretty badly in my head but i stayed strong.
another time i went through the same process and then my husband asked me to walk down to the water with him. leave the safety of my towel/invisibility bubble? no thank you.
after some more coaxing and some more liquid courage, i hesitated for a while (two hours) and then scurried down the beach, topless, to the water.
you know what happened?
no one looked twice at me. no one glanced my way. no one told me i was weird or looked gross half naked. nothing happened.
i’m not sure if i expected some sort of weird paparazzi to pop out of the bushes (i know, why on earth would there be paparazzi) or people to start throwing things at me but truly nothing happened.
to be honest, i kept going back and forth about whether to hit ‘publish’ on this post because it’s sort of weird. i can’t say that i’d be completely comfortable if i ran into someone i knew there and at this point it’s not like i want to go with my whole family or a group of friends. i know for some people (like me at first) it might be weird to ever consider doing this.
what i can say is that stepping outside of your comfort zone (also known as your clothes in this instance) helps you dig deeper into why you feel and think a certain way. these experiences have helped me to examine how i’ve been socialized to think and behave in a certain way and how there are other ways to view and interact with the world.
it’s also surprisingly helped with my own body image and confidence. of course our worth is not determined by the number on our scale, our cup size or other siiiize (if you catch my drift), but it was really amazing to see people of all sizes strutting their beautiful selves with their heads held high. why was it so hard for me to do the same? it gave me a reality check and recall why it can sometimes be so hard to talk about our own beauty.
it was liberating on multiple levels. as a friend matthew wrote on the photo i posted on instagram “my wife and i go once a year to remember nobody really cares what we look like. it’s very therapeutic!” i liked that. no one really cares and often times it’s all in our own heads about our insecurities.
if you ever get the chance to visit a nude beach, go. it might make you uncomfortable, you might need “invisibility sunglasses” or you just might feel liberated and leave without a single tan line!
have you ever been to a nude beach? would you consider going?