I am writting this to share an experience I had recently while traveling around in Europe. For those who dont know, in Germany and The Netherlands there are quiet a few wellness centers. These wellness centers are often on large areas of land and contain numerous different types of saunas, hot tubs, herb baths, steam rooms, massage rooms, showers and swimming pools. However, where they are unique is that most of them have a nude only policy. Being a curious open minded solo traveller I wanted to give it a try and I am glad I did because I learnt a couple of valuable lessons.
I'll start from the beginning. Basically when you arrive you check in at a counter like any other day spa. These are not creepy back alley places, more like the reception area of a 4-5 star hotel. You get given a bath robe, a towel and some slippers. Its then off to the change rooms. There are no male or female rooms. Its all in together here. You get into your robe and then head into the spa area where its a maze of saunas, pools and hot tubs. The particular venue I tried had 18 different saunas. You can wear a robe when you are walking around (although many dont) but if you want to go in the sauna or any pools you have to get completely naked.
I won't lie, I was a bit worried about the whole naked thing. Especially seeing as it was men and women together. When I first went to the change room there were 2 beautiful tall blonde german women standing in there underwear. I immediately felt self conscious in my own seemingly inferior body. I pretended to fumble around in my bag while I worked up the courage to change in the large open change room. The 2 women removed their underwear and what I saw actually gave me comfort. One had pretty saggy breasts and the other had a bit of a tummy and her bum looked fatter without the designer underwear giving it shape. I decided to get on with it and change into my robe.
The first sauna was a scary moment. There were about 8 people in it. A mix of men and women. The youngest looked hardly 18 and the oldest was about 50. I removed my robe and awkwardly went inside, I feared the worst but quickly realised that I had nothing to worry about. Nobody looked at me, not so much as a quick little glance. There were about 3 20year old naked girls in there and the men acted as if they weren't even there at all. As the day went on I got more and more confident with spending time in my birthday suit and made some observations.
1. It was a good mix of people. Young and old, men and women
2. Most people actually look less sexually appealing without underwear or a bikini. You just become another body in all your imperfect glory.
3. People did not associate the nudity with sex. There was no creepy behaviour, no lingering stares or offensive comments.
4. When you are naked you are forced to deal with and accept your bodily imperfections. Once you do this you start to actually feel a certain comfort in your own skin that you dont get while compensating with particular clothing items.
Im not suggesting we should all walk around naked. I think a lot of western countries like the USA, Australia, Canada etc would not be able to handle such a place because peoples minds jump straight to sex when they see skin. This may offend or excite but I think if we had spas like this at home they would be pervy, creepy places that would certaintly not give young women the confidence to hang out naked in a mixed spa.
The point I am trying to make with all of this is that I believe we have attached our bodies way too closely with the idea of sex and attraction and that brings a lot of unwanted attention and pressure.