As the season changes from winter to spring, our sweaters disappear for more comfortable and form-fitting clothing. Soon enough, we’ll all just be naked. Well, maybe not. But in Germany? Just a little bit. Living in Germany I’ve simply come to embrace the nakedness of things that happen here—something my old American self would’ve never lived through. But hey, when there’s bratwurst and bier to be had, you learn to accept the weird with the good. And boy have I accepted the weird!
Years ago, I would’ve never been caught in the buff—barely in my own bedroom than somewhere in public. Public gym showers were frightening enough. There was that first time public nudity became necessary (when traveling, of course): in Iceland visiting their famous spas and open-air baths. It was awkward at first, but I survived. I filed that away in the repressed packet of “weird/awkward travel memories.”
In Germany, however, it didn’t take long to realize that being naked isn’t just okay, it’s sometimes expected and other times required. I still remember my first time in a German spa. There with a friend (one I didn’t really care to see naked—sorry, Cheryl!), as soon as I’d stripped down to nothing, I realized I had nothing to worry about. Nudity is surprisingly unfrightening. It’s that anticipation that drives us crazy with worry.
So, after about four years living in Germany and countless nude German experiences, here’s what I know: it’s okay to be naked. It’s not even scary! And it seems a lot of the world is catching on, too. Next week a new naked restaurant is opening in London (this account is particularly enlightening). Naked yoga seems to be catching on in more and more places. And, just generally, I guess a lot of us are coming to terms with our natural selves. For those of you that haven’t, maybe some of my life lessons below will get you to pull your pants down.
5 life lessons learned from an acceptance of nudity
1) Clarity comes with fewer distractions.
Okay, I’ll admit it. The first time you strip down in public (whether it’s a spa, a nude beach or just a gym locker) is fucking scary as hell. Give it a moment, though, and when your underwear’s in your hand and you’re just standing there au naturel, it feels weird—yes—but also kind of nice. The longer you’re naked, the more you forget about it. You learn to focus on yourself and on your surroundings. Stripped of clothing, it’s much easier to focus on the present. A certain calmness comes when you’re not wearing clothing.
2) We all have flaws.
Of course as a nude beginner, there might be some initial gawking. Humans are naturally curious, so it’s no surprise you might want to sneak a peek. And that’s when you really discover just how diverse we all are, but also how similar we are. We all have flaws—and, really, there’s no need to hide them. When you lay it all out bare, it’s quite easy to come to terms that we are who we are, and there’s not really much you can do about it. (Well, I suppose there’s plastic surgery and makeup and shit, but a human is a human—flaws and all.)
3) A body is just a body.
The more times you get naked in public spaces (I’m not talking about illegally, here!), the more you learn that a body is just a body. The human form loses a lot of its shock value when you’ve seen a lot of naked bodies. It just becomes another thing, something common. That’s not to say it’s boring, though. Because even if a body is just a body, we’ve got some great bodies.
4) Worrying is useless.
When you put it all out there (literally), you come to terms with the fact that the world just works how it works. Worrying and fretting over little superficial things just isn’t worth the time or energy anymore.
5) It’s important to get out of your comfort zone.
Perhaps the most obvious thing I’ve learned from my recent acceptance of nudity is just how great it is to break out of that famed “comfort zone.” It’s almost addicting—that thrill of trying new experiences.
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NOTE: Just because I’m talking about nudity here, doesn’t mean I’m taking naked holidays or doing anything nefarious. Really. I’ve just come to be totally okay with getting naked in the spa, the occasional nude sunbathing and I certainly don’t mind a bit of nudity on the dance floor (to date: not my own nudity, but others). You should all try it sometime.
Cover photo from Naked Boys Reading