The freedom to be naked

Written by: Susanna Pehrson
I am a strong believer in nakedness. I am. But there are times when it is good to be naked, and there are times when it is, how do I say this, totally crazy to be naked. As a Swede, I have had many discussions about this issue, since many nationalities seem to believe Swedish women and men are so liberated that they roam around naked everywhere. Sure, I grew up in a family where it was totally normal to run down to the lake with only a towel and nothing else. If going into the water with my family, or with my best friend, I definitely preferred, and still prefer, swimming naked. But, and this is important, there are millions of small lakes in Sweden and mostly everybody can have a dock with nobody close by. I also believe children should grow up in a family environment where they are relaxed to run around the house naked. I find it depressing when kids, and parents, are uncomfortable to get dressed in the same room. How will it ever be “a good time” to talk about their changing bodies if they never see a naked body? I do not understand, however, the enormous lapse from being at ease with your body to biking around naked in the city. This must be a phenomena only occurring in the Northwest, or more specifically Seattle. I heard about the Freemont Solstice parade just a few months after moving here from Europe. But I had a hard time believing it was true. Surely, I must have misunderstood it. How can the two extreme concepts of children not changing clothes for PE, not to mention taking a shower afterwards, and grown-ups biking nude in public, with a lot of spectators, be part of the same culture? Then last summer when I biked along lake Washington on a warm sunny day, I thought I was hallucinating. On the street in the Mount Baker neighborhood was a group of people that definitely seemed misplaced. There was a mix of half-nude, nude and dressed people, all with bikes. Some had body paint and others did not. A few were dressed as if for a masquerade, and one biker carried a huge palm tree on her bike. They were all standing waiting at a corner, chit-chatting and behaving un-normally normal. I assume they were going for a ride. This was not a parade though; they were out enjoying the nice weather. Only they did it in a rather different way than most sun-lovers on that day in July. What is this – an outburst of insanity or a clever way to change a society by chocking it, so that nakedness will be more accepted every year? I am all for changing people’s mind about nakedness, and making it normal for young children to run around in total freedom on the beaches and in the parks. But can’t it be done in a comfortable way? It must hurt so bad, biking without anything protecting your private parts!

1 Comment on The freedom to be naked

  1. Contrary to movies like “Mr. Woodcock” I did not find high school phys. ed. classes
    traumatizing or harrowing in any way. If we avoided fighting and foul language, and made some basic attempt to follow rules and obey orders, the coach was pleased half the time to go drink
    coffee while we played basketball according to our own lights. There was so much nudity
    that it became as common as pens and pencils- nude swimming, showering after gym and all sports practices, “the long nude line” (ie, wrestling pre-competition weigh-ins), required jockstraps, and informal team nude swims after football games. This was an all-boys religious prep academy, so the presence or girls and women was not an issue. I am skeptical, frankly, of guys who claim to have been in the nude and taught swimming by women, unless they were at
    a nudist camp or similar venue. In my four years of school, no mom or other female was ever anywhere near naked boys in the pool, and neither were cameras of any kind.
    Very brief racing-esque
    swimsuits for p.e. swim classes came in during my senior year,
    but many of the guys were so used to swimming nude that they voluntarily went to the pool sans swimsuit.
    Nowadays, people like my 32-year-old account will actually shower in gym shorts (after lifting weights at the Y) to avoid been seen nude by other males. Amazing how times have changed.

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