I never thought that I was from a conservative society before I found myself at a lakeside beach in one of the Berlin suburbs. There was no problem with the beach itself, but the amount of naked bodies popping up unexpectedly from different sides took me by surprise. As I thought that I might have missed a nude beach sign, the week after I tried my luck at the family-friendly Schlachtensee. The beach was enjoyable until it started drizzling and all the sunbathing families decided to change their swimming wear at once. The amount of flashing butts of all shapes, sizes and colors blinded me: making an attempt to cover intimate parts with a towel was obviously not considered as an option.
A week later I decided to skip sunbathing at all and opted for paddling in Berlin waters. Very soon it became clear, that we were not the only ones who had craving for nature. All along the route, families and individuals were enjoying skinny dipping.
Needless to say, German saunas appeared to be even a more terrifying experience for me. When I first heard about men and women enjoying public saunas together, people going on their first dates to saunas and even about team building exercises in the same set up, I giggled. The reality turned out to be underestimated by me: in a beautiful spa where I was about to dare to enter my first German sauna, not only men and women were enjoying steam together, but the walls of this sauna were made out of glass.
You see, for me it is unthinkable. It is hard to say if it is shame or conservatism, if it is a perception of your own body or if it is a cultural issue, but there are things, which I will probably never feel comfortable about. The fascinating part is, that the experiences that cause me the biggest discomfort, turn out to be absolutely natural for others…
Photo Credit: Armando Martires