Do you remember that sense of gleeful abandon you experienced the first time you swam naked as a child? That sense of freedom, rebellion and joy? That jubilant tingle as water touched parts of your physique never before touched? That mischievous mirth knowing you were doing something naughty?
Well golly, folks, who wouldn’t want to feel that again?
My experience, as a citizen of North America, is that most of us are uptight prudes when it comes to nudity. We’ll wear short skirts and boob-baring tops and tight pants and unbuttoned shirts but plunk us down on a Caribbean island and most of us wouldn’t be caught dead topless (much less bottomless). And here’s the thing – you cannot skinny dip with your clothes on.
Years ago on one of my honeymoons (yeah, I’ve had a couple), I bared my boobs for the first time. The resort in Jamaica which hosted both our wedding ceremony and vacation, offered a “prude” beach and a “nude” beach. We, being the confirmed Canadians that we were, chose “prude”. And then wondered why all the fun folks we met at dinner were nowhere to be seen during the day. Well as it turns out, all the fun folks were hanging out at the nude beach/pool.
What the heck, thought we?!
And so the day after we married (I didn’t want burnt boobs on my wedding night) my new husband and I ventured into a land never before encountered. The land of naked people. Much to my surprise, most of these naked people were not pretty. Or perfect. Or young. Or even fit. They were just a big grab-bag of anywhos, proudly flaunting their private junk, bountiful booties, flabby arms, scrawny legs, jelly-bellies and sagging melons. And they were all smiling broadly, enjoying the freedom of naturalism.
I immediately cast aside by bathing suit top.
Then, much to my shock, my new hubby dropped his drawers without so much as a “Thank you very much!” And there he was. Fully naked, displaying the family jewels in the bright Negril sunshine.
I was truthfully shocked. But also a little proud. Not so much because of the jewels but because it turns out my Britishly Canadian husband was no puritan. He was boldly going where no Canadian I had ever met had gone before. And doing it was such insouciance I couldn’t help but laugh.
I never did relinquish my bottoms but that day I did fully relish in the exposure of my breasts, in the feel of ocean water on them, in my freedom from tan lines and underwires.
Conveniently enough, one of our new friends was an American psychiatrist who told us that he and his wife consciously sought out clothing-optional beaches on all of their southern holidays. They also mentioned that back home in Ohio they had a hot tub.
“So when your friends come by for a soak,” asked I curiously, “Do you all strip down?”
“Never,” he replied. “We always wear suits.”
“Then why here?” I queried further. “Why are you so intent on getting naked with strangers when you’re on vacation?”
“Because of that very fact,” he responded with a grin. “We are on holiday, we’ll probably never see any of you ever again, we are rebelling just a bit and we are doing something we would never do at home. Which is truly one of the great benefits of vacation.”
And there you have it. From The Shrink himself.
Since that fateful trip (and even further since my divorce) I have never had an issue with toplessness. Even full-on nakedness doesn’t spook me as it once might have. Once, while camping with friends (some old, some new) I felt a hankering to skinny dip in the moonlight. It was a rather chilly night and everyone else appeared content by the bonfire so I stood up, stripped down to nothing and languidly strolled into Georgian Bay.
Languidly not to put on a show, but because it was rocky and I was barefoot. I relished every second of that stroll, and the ultimate dip into cool waters. My sense of freedom was off the charts.
On another visit to the sunny south we found ourselves at a resort populated by many Europeans and a handful of Canadians. The European ladies were all topless. The Canadian chicks were all not. Except for me. And I’ll tell you, the expressions of shock from my fellow Canucks were both hilarious and vindicating. Because I was “free” and they were not.
That same trip also taught me the beauty of “freedom”. As we settled onto one particularly beautiful nude beach, we noticed two rather corpulent ladies parked next to us. “Wow,” thought we. “It’s great that they have so much nerve”. That’s when one of the ladies stood up and we realized that she had a man-part hiding under her nakedness. You could barely see it but damn, it was definitely a man-part. Turns out she was a he.
Again, we were most impressed. Because nakedness does not have to equal sexiness. It can just be exactly what it is. Freedom from clothing.
Another time, a new beau and I were dining with his friends who, unbeknownst to me, had a hot tub. We hadn’t brought suits, it was a gorgeous autumn evening, the sun was setting over Lake Huron and it seemed a terrible waste to not enjoy this magical moment from the warm waters on the deck. Off came our clothes – both of us got naked without a second thought. Even though our host (and his girlfriend) suited up before joining us.
I guess my point is there is happiness in freedom. There is joy in being a kid again. There is delight in removing society’s shackles and defining for yourself what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour.
And most of us do discover a certain rapture in naked swimming. So whether you do it under the cloak of darkness or in broad daylight, in a private pool or a public ocean, why not go skinny-dipping? Summer is just around the corner.
I guarantee you will be smiling.
Maybe even laughing out loud. Because I’ll come with you …