A little while ago, LSB and I were cycling through a forest. The sun was glistening through the leaves. The air was sweet. All you could hear was the crunch of tyres on the path.
Somewhere along the way, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves at a lake. A sign told us we had arrived at “Teufelsee.” Naked men and women were lounging on the grass reading magazines, while others stood knee-deep in the water, patting their arms with water before diving in. Up a little hill, a young and bare-skinned couple was embracing. Unmoving and perfectly entwined, they reminded me of a Renaissance painting.
“This is wonderful,” I said to LSB as we walked by some middle-aged men and women chatting together; their breasts and penises exposed as naturally as my hands or feet.
“It’s nice,” he said, and pointed to a group of ducklings, which were creating tiny ripples as they paddled behind their mother.Freikörperkultur – or free body culture – thrived in Communist East Germany, where people knew a thing or two about being denied personal freedom. The movement spread to West Germany and now even in a united and free Germany, nudist areas are relatively common.
A few months ago, I was writing a news story about nudist bathing spots in Munich. “It’s not right,” my young, male editor said. “What’s not right?” I asked.
“Imposing yourself on others,” he said. “I don’t want to see some…” He paused.
“…Fat people.” I think he had wanted to say “ugly” too but stopped himself.
If words have a smell, these reeked of privilege and prudishness.
That, coupled with the recent click-whorish delight he had displayed while creating a photo gallery of women posing for a sexy Alpine-themed calendar under the caption “Farm girls calendar shows pick of the crop” made me see red.
“People don’t exist for your viewing pleasure,” I said.
He scoffed. “I don’t want to be confronted with some .. naked person when I’m walking down the street,” he said.
Poor man, I thought. Imagine his horror when he realises not every woman looks like the Alpine farm girls. Or that men get old and have saggy flesh and that someday, he will too.
I read the following quote recently, which sums up perfectly what I want to say:
“It is illegal for women to go topless in most cities, yet you can buy a magazine of a woman without her top on in any 7-11 store. So you can sell breasts, but you cannot wear breasts, in America. ”
It is okay to post naked pictures of women on the internet, as long as it generates clicks and income for your website. It is not okay to meet one in real life. Particularly if she doesn’t conform to your ideals.
And here is the saddest part.
Even though I have promised myself I will, I have reservations about going nudist bathing at Teufelsee. I dread the idea of meeting someone I know, or alarming somebody with my less-than-perfect body.
Because in spite – or maybe because of – of all the education I have had; the material comfort and political freedom I enjoy, somewhere along the way, I failed to learn that my body has to please nobody but myself.