Last Sunday I found myself amongst the beautiful rugged mountains of Krk Island, Croatia hiking to this beautiful hidden inlet Vela Luça with one of my newfound best buds, an Aussie guy named Dan. We were having the time of our lives scrambling up majestic mountains which dove straight into the Mediterranean Sea below, being blown away by the sharp beauty of Croatian nature, finding little pockets of seemingly uninhabited beach against turquoise waters.
As we progressed with our journey and as the day started heating up, we began to realize that these seemingly uninhabited beaches were actually quite populated; the inhabitants just blended really well with the sand because well, um, everyone was entirely naked.
Kansas vs. Europe: definitely not socially acceptable in Kansas to be a nudist. But Europe? High-70s, humidity-free Croatia? All naked all the time is all okay.
Hmm, how awkward, one might think to oneself. Here you are, with your opposite-sex buddy trying to have a pleasant hike when all of a sudden these crazy yahoos are meandering around with all of God’s blessed personalized nature presented for the world to see. One might even insert a stern head-shake or frown.
While some of these thoughts crossed my mind initially, I soon found them to fade quite quickly. Suddenly the thoughts of, man, this is weird became replaced with an appreciation for people who appreciate life. These people were nudists in the same way that I am Josie. It’s entirely fluid: Josie is not something that I have grown up in like Kansas is, it’s not something I have been told I am a part of, like being American, it’s not something that others chose for me, like where I went to elementary school. Josie is something that has taken me a long time to figure out, something that is quite fluid and that is constantly changing and cannot be figured out to entirety and it a complicated arrangement of all the people I have met and my own genetic instincts.
And that’s what nudism is for many of these people, too. Many have subtracted the conformity and comfort of life from the essential of humanity and found that things such as materialism and fitting in and societal norms….these things don’t produce the same sort of emotions that vulnerability and minimalism do.
I don’t intend to be a nudist at the present. I mean, who knows who future Josie is going to be, but entering Austrian fall will find me definitely clothed. I do want to chase that same raw appreciation for life, though. I want to go places for days on end without keeping up with my every-other-day-shower-schedule or brushing my hair and jaunting around with nothing more than a backpack full of necessities.
American culture has taught us to fear our own bodies. We have grown up with the idea that it is common and it is right to be disgruntled with your figure. That one must strive to tan and to tighten and to lift and to smooth these parts of your body that are so stubbornly against change. New Years Resolution gym membership deals and a plethora of photoshopped pictures reinforces this dissatisfaction with the simple way that things are.
Full-frontal nudity is not necessarily the best option for everyone, perhaps especially in Kansas. But I think there is something incredibly empowering about self-love and self-understanding. Taking oneself at face value, whether metaphorically or literally. Ultimately it comes down to the simple fact that there is so much more to life than what we look like. Than how we fit in.
Peace & Blessings,