Let’s see…how on earth does one start this story?
Oh, I know: Once upon a time, a fatchick went to a naked beach.
(Got your attention yet?)
Once upon a time, a fatchick and her husband, celebrating the fifth anniversary of their first date, went to a naked beach in the woods in the middle of nowhere because the husband had been desperately wanting to splash around in some water and because the fatchick also wanted to go swimming but didn’t want to spend the entire afternoon trying to read The Hobbit while surrounded by shrieking unattended kids and spray-tanned women who reeked of chlorine. Each of them had gone separately to the campgrounds with the naked beach at various times–she hadn’t been there in 12 years or so, and he hadn’t been for 3 or 4 years–and remembered loving the trees and the land and the deep sense of sacredness and respect that filled the area; and they had a lot of friends who absolutely adored the place; and so they figured there was no time like the present to go check it out, and besides, if you can’t read The Hobbit beneath the dappled shade of a tall tree at the pagan campgrounds with a clothing-optional lake 20 feet away, really, where can you read it? So they went, and had the time of their lives.
As a bit of background, I should note that I have said for years that my body is where I am, not who I am. It’s the vehicle that moves my conscious self through space. It’s useful to me in a lot of ways–lacking Jedi mind powers, for instance, I pretty much have to rely on my hands to get anything accomplished around here–but it is no more my Self than my car is.
But in the interest of complete honesty and full disclosure, I’ll totally own the fact that having an Officially Enlightened Stance on Things does not mean that it’s always easy for me to carry myself with confidence–I have “fat days”, I have “bad hair days”, I have “the dryer must have shrunk this top; please, god, say that the dryer shrank this top” days. And I have been browbeaten by the media into believing that as an amply curvy woman, my body is something that should bring me shame and embarrassment, and which should never ever ever, on pain of death and destruction, be shown in public.
I’ve also got this pretty strong modesty kick, but more on that in a moment.
But here’s the thing: the new swimsuit I bought for this year has a groovy 1970s-ish paisley print in black and brown and blue and pink and orange and yellow and white. It’s very busy (the better to distract the eye from the torso’s girth, my dear), and is a two-piece job with a knee-length skirted bottom (the better to keep one from noticing the size of the thighs, my dear). This is a great suit, very comfy, and I feel confident in it…most of the time. But fer cryin’ out loud, when you’re at this beach and it’s all green and leaves and grass and brown and tree trunks and sand and grey water and all the various lovely colors of humanity, you kinda start feeling like your garishly colored suit, purchased for the express purpose of camouflaging your body so nobody notices you, is perhaps failing to have the desired effect.
In other words, the whole “modesty” angle falls right out, which is hilarious when you think about it. I dress modestly most of the time (and by “modestly” I mean ankle-length skirts and shirts with at least t-shirt length sleeves, no necklines below my sternum, and no slits, holes, cutouts, peek-a-boos, or other skimpy bits), because I believe that it is more important for people to notice my mind than to notice my chest or butt. Hence the tank-style swim top and the knee-length swim skirt–even at the pool, I choose to look mostly modest, and I prefer not to stand out because of being overly revealing with my attire.
Clearly, though, the “not standing out” bit becomes a bit of a stretch when you’re the gal rockin’ the lurid paisley in a place where everyone else is blending in with the landscape, and while it’s true that people can see alllll your chest and butt when you’re not wearing anything, it’s a strange-but-true quirk of the universe that said bits will draw less attention by being totally uncovered than by being covered in a bold graphic print. At least, that’s true when you’re the only one wearing a bold graphic print.
So we shucked out of our swimsuits (which, for the record, make pretty darned good pillows), tossed out a few quick silent prayers about not getting awkward sunburns or impossible-to-scratch-in-polite-society bug bites, and dove in.
And. It. Was. Fabulous.
I think the most interesting part to me was how quickly I got over the whole “Holy crap, I’m naked in public” thing; it took something like 10 seconds for me to stop feeling weird about it, and approximately 20 more seconds for me to stop noticing altogether (except when a fly would land on my butt, because frankly, I’m just not accustomed to feeling tickly sensations there). It was really, truly no big deal, y’know? Exactly zero people appeared to notice what we were or weren’t wearing, and exactly zero people appeared to give a flying fig one way or the other; and really, we probably could’ve kept our suits on and that would’ve been totally fine too, but where’s the adventure in that?
Though really, where’s the adventure in a total non-event (we came, we stripped, we swam, we dressed and came back to town and had Mexican food for dinner), except in the retelling later?
So there you have it, kids, the absolutely true and completely uneventful story of how a fatchick and her husband went to the naked beach and utterly failed to cause doom, destruction, mass panic, or indeed any disruption of any sort in the ebb and flow of the universe. We did have a blast, though, because swimmin’ is fun, and it’s even better when you’re in a place that’s absolutely free of judgment so it’s really totally ok that you’re doing more flailing and splashing than actual swimming. Double bonus points to the camp for providing pool noodles, floats, kickboards, and beach balls for everyone to play with. I used the purple noodle, because purple is awesome.
Oh! I did have one Big Moment while we were there–I went in water where I couldn’t touch the bottom! I hadn’t done that in a good 20-25 years, because as it turns out, my fairly severe acrophobia translates to a fear of deep water–basically, I’m not comfortable anyplace where my feet aren’t firmly on the ground. Fortunately, my body has enough fat that I’m pretty much perpetually buoyant–the laws of physics actually prevent me from drowning unless something is holding me under–so between that, the nifty purple noodle, a beach with an atmosphere of total acceptance and goodwill toward one’s fellow man, and a kind and patient husband, I kicked out to the middle of the lake and drifted there for a bit, just because I could. Bwahaha! Total victory.
Total, naked, victory.