Nudism: Is It The Ultimate Form Of Body Acceptance?


Until recently, I had never thought much about nudity. I mean, I'm all for whatever feels good. You wanna go topless on a beach? Awesome. You like to lounge around the locker room in your birthday suit after Zumba? Go for it. I should say, I hadn't thought about me and nudity.

The whole issue of nakedness came up a few weeks ago when a friend suggested a group of us go to a Korean-style spa. She described a heavenly place with five floors of pools, saunas and treatment rooms. I immediately imagined the smell of chorine, a hot tub and a glass of red wine in my hand. Perfect. But then someone else mentioned the dress code and another friend said she’d heard the pools were all-nude and divided by sex. Suddenly my dreams of carefree water lounging dissolved into a puddle of shame and awkwardness. Would I be forced to bathe nude with my closest friends? And if so, would I be okay with that?

I was right. There were plenty of people who had things to say about the spa and its all-nude areas. A man named Zachary seemed upbeat about it. He wrote that going au naturel wasn't intimidating at all and after five minutes you just "kinda do your thing." I wasn’t sure what Zachary's "thing" was, but fortunately we'd be separated by gender anyway.

A woman from Brooklyn declared two minutes the cut-off mark between unclad trepidation and bare-skinned bliss. Someone named Julia seemed to be less accommodating to us modest folk. "If you don’t want to get naked just stay home and keep your clothes on. Please," her post said. Sheesh. Ryan was on the same page as Julia. "Uh, yeah. It’s the human body. Get over yourself …" he declared.

Get over myself? I tried to figure out what exactly I had to "get over." Did I think my body was more extraordinary than the rest? My bare butt more precious than the other butts in the spa? No, no that definitely wasn't it. So then was it the opposite — was I self-conscious of my body? No, that wasn't it either. Trust me, I'm no Kate Upton, but I’m also pretty happy with what I've got.

I decided then it was the friend thing. If I could be an anonymous set of boobs wandering around the pools, I'd probably be okay with it. Well, not 100% comfortable (C'mon, I’m American! I didn’t grow up on the nudie beaches of the French Riviera.) But the thought of sitting around chatting with my friends while completely bare was too much. I also decided that I wouldn't want to bathe with my mom and my little sister. Basically, the more I love you, the less I want to be naked with you. It's a thought that doesn't bode too well for my love life, but might serve as a guideline for same-sex spa outings.

Love Your Body

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In the end, my friends and I went to the spa and discovered that the nude pools were only a small part of the facility — we found half a dozen other pools where bathing suits were welcome. We all kept our clothes on and had a wonderfully relaxing time. Does that make us ashamed? I don't think so.

The Ryans and the Julias of the world can chill buck naked all they want and I commend them for it. But I think it’'s more important to understand your boundaries and to feel confident enough to stick to them. To me, that is the ultimate form of body acceptance.

What are your thoughts on nudity?

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