FOR THE LOVE OF RELATIONSHIPS – The curious psychology of public nudity

I am vacationing in a resort that promises I will “Come Back New”.  It has been relaxing with the only schedule being a daily workout and trying to score above 15 on afternoon trivia.   Today, we went to a beach. A portion of the area was dedicated to being clothing optional. Sun worshipers in their 60’s and 70’s were naked and unafraid. Their bodies were less than tight or lean, yet they were parading in and out of the water without much of a care.

I find this very curious.  What is the psychology behind public nudity?  Is it about power, freedom, exhibitionism, healthy body image, beauty, getting attention, or being counter cultural? Is it to display ones’ sexuality or to show that one can embrace their sexuality more than the rest of us when all is exposed?  This topic is quite delicate.  Nudist beaches are a balancing act.  Some are surrounded by fences, hidden and discreet so those who come only to stare are not welcome. How does one expose all parts of the body carefully enough to reveal its wonderous qualities, while at the same time concealing ones’ own sexual interests and avoid provoking unwanted sexual interest among others? Is this to enhance and celebrate the freedom of ones’ sexuality or to diminish it? Oh, the questions keep coming. 

From a personal point of view, I would declare that revealing a woman’s hands are different than revealing her breasts. That revealing a man’s chest is different that revealing his penis.  Why? What are the rules when it comes to concealment, modesty, sexual arousal, or lack thereof? Several articles I have read regarding this point to the animal kingdom and the natural, instinctual, behavioral reproductive dance most species exhibit.  I squarely reject these inane comparisons. Humans are not instinctual, but rather, intellectual beings divinely designed with choice and cognitive abilities that are higher than that of a chimpanzee. 

A portion of sexuality is embedded in body parts that are usually covered by swimsuits. The reason I personally would not disrobe in a public place is that, in my opinion, sexuality is sacred and meant for a higher purpose. These parts are so important to sexuality, attraction, vulnerability, reproduction, pleasure, privacy, happiness, delight, purpose, meaning, eroticism, commitment, relationships, closeness, emotional safety, autonomy, trust, connection, intimacy, and life. I would not call myself a prude, nor would I consider myself libertine. I am fascinated that in one part of the world, woman must conceal all parts of their body including hair and legs as not to arouse, yet, here on this beach there are no limits on displaying it all. This is not about morality, but, rather, clarity. It is clear to me that I do not want to share my body with the public. I am selective and intentional about with whom I will share. I choose to share only with my husband who is committed to me, to my well-being, to my heart, to my emotional health, and my highest calling. I remain curious. For more information or continue the discussion contact joneen@myrelationshipcenter.org