by Lianne Bergeron
Imagine this: steam rooms, dry saunas, baths, a huge indoor/outdoor pool, jacuzzis, warm temperatures, water beds for relaxing, color rooms, silent rooms, salt rooms, massages, scrubs, perfect showers and no kids… bliss.
Now imagine this 100% naked with men and women. A lot of them. Still feel relaxing?
Welcome to Holland, land of the naked.
Last week, I went to the most incredible sauna with a group of girlfriends. I’ve been to saunas here before so knew what to expect but I always need a couple of minutes of adjustment before feeling comfortable hanging up my bathrobe. There is a “no bathing suit” policy. Seriously. But one of my friend’s hadn’t been to a sauna and when she realized that the suit wasn’t allowed, well let’s just say that she needed do a lot of letting go and fast! She loved it.
I guess the idea isn’t to check everyone out but eyes do tend to wander and, speaking for myself, a glance here and there never hurt anyone.
For me, being naked those first times in public, were, (once I got over the fact that I was totally naked in public), incredibly liberating.
Some great things about being in a naked sauna:
Everyone at a naked sauna is comfortable with his or her bodies, so you have no choice but to let go. The less of a big deal you make of it, the less it is. We have these pre-conceived ideas about body image and what looks good but when everyone is naked you realize that there is no “perfect” body and that yours is just as great as everyone else’s.
2. Everyone has a unique body:
I have seen it all at the sauna, not that I’m looking. I have always looked at Dutch women’s bodies with a bit of envy, until I saw them naked. Their bodies are just like everyone else’s. Unique.
3. Total freedom of being:
There is nothing like being naked when it comes to feeling sensations. The water in the swimming pool flowing over your body, the cold wind when you run from pool to hot tub outside, the sweat dripping down your body when you sit in the extra hot Finnish sauna, not to mention how incredibly soft your body feels afterwards. We are so used to being dressed all the time that we don’t get to feel much.
4. A glimpse at the trends (you know, those kind…):
I really don’t stare but every now and then you catch a glimpse, or in the case of my last visit, one of my girlfriends pointed out the “hairless” trend. Couples tended to be “trendy” together. Oh and a lot of people have tattoos! It’s good to be up-to-date!
5. Conservative girl:
I grew up in a pretty conservative family. Nakedness was not cool. Showing skin, cleavage etc. not ok. Bikinis, well let’s just say I snuck one with me when I went to Italy for my 18th birthday. And even still today, a tight short skirt, low cut top and bikinis are still given the one-over by my mother. So for me, seeing that a whole population can be comfortable being naked and that there is nothing wrong with it – well it’s just great. To be honest – the way it should be. Now, I’m a not so conservative Canadian and I love it.
6. They really do come in all shapes and sizes:
I mean, it’s kind of cool to see so many without having to buy or test – aren’t you just a bit curious? On a serious note – it’s also a great feeling not to be looked at like a sexual object but just as a woman – there is no flirting, no expectations. It’s like not having clothes on takes all of that away. Add a short skirt and a tight t-shirt and it’s a whole different ballgame.
Men and women naked = sex, right? But it’s not sex at all. Everyone is in an optimum state of relaxation after a steam room or a hot sauna. Plus being naked with flip-flops on = not sexy. You have to wear flip-flops and have a towel with you for the dry sauna. You also need a bathrobe for the restaurant and relaxation rooms – there are limits!
It is possible to experience these things without the co-ed factor but being naked all together makes it somehow less of a big deal.
Having said this – I do not need to “bump” into a male friend, colleague or parent from school. I do have my Canadian limitations!
A different perspective…
Lianne Bergeron is an author and entrepreneur who lives and works near Amsterdam with her Dutch husband and four kids. She’ll share her life abroad without family support, kids that speak Denglish and traditions that aren’t hers. Life with four kids and 10 bikes and her on-going quest to balance it all on her bicycle built for six. Follow her on Twitter and read more about her books at LiannesQuickGuide.com.