Posted by Tiberius on May 08, 2004 at 10:19:51:
In Reply to: Re: etiquette posted by Paul on May 08, 2004 at 02:57:23:
I don't believe that there is a formula, nor do I think such inhibitions are necessarily due to upbringing (generally speaking, since I don't know your personal case). The only way to get over them is through practice ie getting naked in front of others. But as others have indicated, there are far more opportunities for that in Europe than in the US. As Greta has described in her posts, a great country to "get practice" is Germany. Every water park has a sauna area where nudity is the norm, and unlike nudist clubs in the US (and elsewhere) there is no problem for a single man to go.
My first such experience was on my own, in Baden-Baden, at a spa called Friedrichsbad. You go through a series of dry and steam saunas and swimming pools. You're not allowed to leave the dressing room wearing anything and you remain completely nude all the time there. The dressing rooms and the first dry saunas are segregated but the steam baths and swimming pools are mixed. I did feel a bit unconfortable at first, but after a few minutes it was ok. The fact that everybody else is totally naked helps. There were men and women of all ages (children younger than 16 are not allowed in) and everybody was relaxed. It's a favorite place for tourists who want to have their first nude experience.
The sauna areas in other water parks in Germany are different: you wear a bathing suit in the swimming areas but you must remove it when entering the sauna area. Inside the saunas themselves, and in the swimming pools in the area, everybody is totally nude. The showers are also nude and mixed. But to walk around or sit down people usually wear robes or a towel. Still, they are good places to get some practice on being naked in front of others. An ex-girlfriend of mine had had no experience of public nudity before I took her to one of these water parks, the Taunus Therme near Frankfurt. She just loved it (she didn't like the 100C saunas, but that's something else).
Back to the upringing issue: while such places are very common in Germany, not everyone likes to go to them. I'd guess some 20% of the German population go to such saunas at least occasionally. In Eastern Germany the proportion is probably much higher. But I also know some people who, while not criticizing those who go there, simply decline to go, saying they dislike being nude in front of others -- but not due to any religious upbringing. So I don't know.
I know that the suggestion of going to Germany may not be very helpful, but perhaps you will have the opportunity.
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