….and in Switzerland and Germany, apparently you are naked frequently in between.
I remember a few years back while accidentally catching glimpses of body parts of my friends (I didn’t want or need to see) at a Korean spa in Queens, my sister shared her European experience with me. She lived in Israel at the time and frequented Europe for skiing trips. She mentioned in passing that some of the spas were co-ed, naked, you know, things swinging, dangling and hanging down and out for all to see. The concept seemed strange to me and made me cringe and clutch my towel close. I had friends that wouldn’t even strip down to their bra and underwear in front of me, let alone in a changing room full of women, no way would it happen in front of people of the opposite sex. I even had a friend scold me for posting a picture on Facebook that showed 1/18th of my 3 year old daughters nipple slipping out of a too-big costume. Surely most Americans would not get on board with this co-ed concept. Unless, of course, it involves Lacrosse.
Naturally, it came as no surprise to me when I came across this article on CNN about being naked in Germany. I naively didn’t expect the same comfort level with nudity in Switzerland. Considering the small country shares a large border with Germany, the nakedness here really shouldn’t have been a surprise to me either. My first encounter with such openness was at the gym in my town.
You enter the locker room right from the center of the weight room and the door gives you a front and center view of the first two rows of lockers and changing areas. Essentially, anyone looking up at the locker room door when it is opened has an unobstructed view of anything and everything in those two rows. Around the corner is a shower room, a big huge room with 6 showers, no curtains and no privacy. Moving past the locker room area is the co-ed sauna. There is a large sign as you enter letting you know it is co-ed and clothes and cell phones are prohibited. Coincidentally, people appreciate full privacy when pooping, the stalls go floor to ceiling with no gaps.
Then this past weekend we stayed at a very upscale hotel in Interlaken. I took the kids to the pool and went into the dressing room to change. As I entered the room and saw nothing but naked men, I quickly exited, red faced hoping no one had noticed my mistake. Upon further examination I realized there was only one room and I had apparently missed this sign upon entry.So far this is one of the huge cultural differences that I have come across (cleanliness to come in a later post) and I find it absolutely fascinating. What is eye contact protocol? How do men hide being turned on and if they are, is that considered rude, flattering, gross etc? Is there a certain level of waxing, manscaping that is required/expected?
I’m fortunate to come at a time in my children’s lives where nudity is still part of every day life so they haven’t formed any opinions either way. Jon and I are still naked in front of the kids, they both still bathe together and discussing the Penis and Vaginey (as Lilybelle likes to call it) are still mildly acceptance dinner table topics.
Only time will tell what is to come of the nudity this summer as we live directly across from a Lake Zurich swim club. Stay tuned…….