Why Nude Bathing Is Better Than Bathing Suits

| April 22, 2015 | 9 Comments

Why Society Is Better Off Swimming Nude Without Bathing Suits

I’m not one of those nudies that feels compelled to be naked 24 / 7, and I would say that many nudists can’t be and don’t care to be naked everywhere, all the time. (I’ve mentioned this before in the common myths about nudism.)

I’m quite comfortable wearing clothes in the winter. I get cold very easily and am grateful for the sweaters I have to keep me warm. Though I’m not much into fashion or clothes shopping, I do like dressing up sometimes and expressing myself with certain colors, fabrics and styles.

However…there is one item of clothing that I prefer to keep buried and forgotten in my dresser: my bathing suit.

The bathing suit is one of the most useless articles of clothing ever invented by humanity. It doesn’t help you bathe or swim. Its only purpose is to cover up the body parts that American culture (and other cultures) has deemed obscene: butts, genitals and FEMALE nipples.

In the U.S., the general consensus seems to be: remove bathing suits and all hell will break loose. The beach will become overrun with public sex and perverts. This comes from our society’s gymnophobia (fear of nudity) and the idea that nudity = sex.

The fact is, we can do just as well as without bathing suits, if not better. Swimming nude used to be the norm in ancient Greek culture. Nude spas have been around for centuries. In America, nude swimming was mandatory and considered the norm at YMCA’s and in schools up until the 1970’s. Many of today’s nude beaches have been around for decades, proving that all kinds of people can indeed swim and sunbathe naked together with civility and respect. Acts of public sex are illegal at a nude beach just like anywhere else.

Though the bathing suit has gradually shrunk down from full-length costumes to today’s teeny bikini, the practices of skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing have never disappeared. The liberating feeling of swimming without a suit is a common reason people get into nudism.

Felicity Jones Nude Bathing and Swimming at "Big Deep," Woodstock, New York YNA

Felicity Jones Nude Bathing and Swimming at “Big Deep,” Woodstock, New York

Sure, people can wear swimsuits as a form of self-expression. There are all sorts of swimsuit designs out there. But I would argue that the discomfort, inconvenience and cost far outweigh any joy you might feel from wearing a stylish suit that fits.

Here’s why I think we’d all be better off without bathing suits:

1. They’re uncomfortable, tight and restricting before you even go in the water. Then you swim and get it wet… now you have cold, sopping wet fabric clinging to your skin. If you were swimming in the ocean or at a sandy beach, you’ve probably got some sand in your crotch, too. You get out of the water, and now the rest of your naturally-water-repellant skin dries while the suit stays wet for at least the next 15 – 30 minutes. For women who sit in wet bottoms, this can be the ideal breeding ground for a yeast infection. That should be a pretty big clue that we’re not meant to be wearing these things.

2. They’re unhygienic and unsanitary. Swimsuit fabrics trap detergents, perspiration, dirt, fecal matter and bacteria and then carry all that right into the public pool. This can lead to the spread of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI’s). This is why it’s important to shower before entering a pool. But how many people actually shower first at American public pools? According to 2012 survey by the Water Quality and Health Council, only 32% of American adults said they always shower first, and many Americans — 44% –don’t even think a pre-swim shower is necessary.

And due to America’s weird hang-ups about nudity, how many of that 32% are showering in their swimsuits and still entering the pool with germs attached? We probably have the dirtiest public pools of any developed country.

Ever swim in a pool with a strong chlorine smell? That’s not an indicator of a clean pool. In fact it’s a result of impurities from people’s bodies mixing with chlorine in the water. This creates chloramines, which give off that irritating odor.

Needless to say, the preemptive shower is much easier and more effective when done naked. And any bacteria, fecal matter, sweat, germs, etc., that get trapped in suits could be avoided altogether if everyone swam nude. When kids were required to swim naked at the Y, hygiene was the primary reason given, and it’s still a good reason. Though we now have better chemical technology, chlorine is not some miracle pool cleaner.

hot tub rules lake como nudist resorts shower no bathing suits yna

Hot Tub Rules Sign at Lake Como Nudist Resort

The cleanest pools in America can probably be found at nudist resorts. No one is bringing in impurities from their clothing, and resort pools often have multiple signs instructing people to shower before entering. And if you don’t, a club member is likely to remind you because they want a clean pool.

3. Bathing suit shopping. As if anyone needed proof, Australian psychologist Marika Tiggemann’s 2012 study on body image and swimsuits found that women get anxious and depressed just thinking about swimsuit shopping. Most people seem to approach it with as much anticipation as a trip to the dentist, and with good reason. Every spring, we’re surrounded by ads about how to obtain the perfect “bikini body,” eg thin, tanned and toned with no cellulite, wrinkles or imperfections. It’s a message that only one type of body belongs in a bikini or any kind of revealing swimsuit. Some body-positive campaigns have been trying to challenge this in recent years with memes saying that bikinis are for everyone. However the bikini-body magazine stories, workouts and products will continue to sell as long as a profit can be made of course.

Nudism And Self Esteem

The ever-dreaded bikini season

how to get a bikini body meme body positive acceptance bathing suits yna

Body-positive bikini meme – “How to get a bikini body: put a bikini on a body”

But even when you can ignore all the body-shaming media and advertising, you’re still faced with the task of finding a swimsuit that fits well. For “plus-size” women and women with large breasts, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. When you do find your holy grail of a suit, you’re lucky if it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag.

Here’s a tweet that sort of sums my feelings: “It’s pretty annoying that I have to pay like $120 for a swimsuit, like you literally are a piece of cloth that covers my nipples.”

How much of a relief would it be to skip this whole process and go to a nude beach or nude pool instead?

Plus, the “unsanitary” factor applies to swimsuit shopping as well – those new swimsuits at the store are covered in all kinds of nasty bacteria!

4. SexXy double standards. The swimsuit industry is all about sexually objectifying women. A lot of swimsuits are made to emphasize a woman’s cleavage and butt. The over-sexualization of breasts is part of the reason we’re forced to wear tops at all. Victoria’s Secret adds the word “sexy” into the names of every single one of their bathing suits. This is, again, about “bikini body” standards, but it sends the message that women are supposed to wear bikinis so they can look “sexy” and attract the (heterosexual) male gaze. Why else would we go to the beach, right? Of course people want to look and feel good in what they wear. But women are just people who want to enjoy the beach like everyone else in a bathing suit that hopefully fits right and feel comfortable (if we have to wear one).

It sounds counter-intuitive, but nude beaches and nudist resorts create a more equal and less sexual environment because everyone is naked.

As for men, I know some guys wish that America would embrace the speedo already. But be happy you can legally wear one, dudes. If I showed up at the beach or pool in a speedo, I’d very quickly be arrested or shown the door in most places. It’s been 80+ years since men won the right to be topfree in public, and women are still waiting for the same right (in most states / cities).

never nude tobias speedo arrested development gif bathing suits yna

Tobias “Never Nude” trying on a speedo on TV Show Arrested Development

5. Bikini tops fall off in the water or at the water park, and then everyone stares at you as you try to discretely tie or re-clasp your top back on. Many have those annoying pad inserts, too, that get scrunched up or have to be wiggled back into place all the time.

6. Tan lines. They’re unsightly and avoidable.

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Bad Tan Lines From Typical Summer Activities

As the swimsuit has shrunk in appearance, one would hope that we are eventually going to do away with it entirely or at least get more top-optional / swimsuit-optional places.

For those who do need a new bikini, maybe consider getting one that makes a statement like the TaTa Top?

tatatop bathing suits female nipples swimsuit free the nipple yna

The TaTa Top bathing suit https://thetatatop.com/

Felicity Jones Nude Bathing Is Better Than Bathing Suits Young Naturists and Nudists America

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Category: Felicity's Nudist Blog

About the Author ()

Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!
  • Jbeegoode

    NickAlimonos As a mental health professional, I must say that in this world it IS crazy that anyone is required to wear a swimsuit. Come on, it is off the deep end and drowning in crazy. It ought-ta be in the DSMs listed as,”obsessive compulsive textilism.”

  • These are my thoughts exactly! I Hate (with a capital H) the feel of a soggy, sandy suit sticking to my butt. I often think the world is crazy for requiring everyone to wear one.

  • TLeonard Hill

    Who “bathes” in a ‘bathing suit’??
    Not needed. All public pools and beaches should be nude only. But it’s not enforceable, not for decades at least.

  • DaxDruckman

    Great post!!!  Yes, I always found it a waste to wear swimsuits.  A lot of people were taught to cover up and I always wondered why when I was growing up.  I was not raised a nudist, but I am now and love it.

  • Jbeegoode

    Great stuff, great points. All obvious to me, but most people need to hear this sensibility. 
    We go to a spiritual sweat. It is a sauna setup. Imagine the juice there. Some quickly toss water and then wipe off the wooden bench and sit down. I double fold a small towel. Just plain gross are the fools that wear underwear, or swimming bottoms! Think what soaks through that and then stays there. Less than half shower afterward. There are those that obviously cover up because of “modesty” or should I say, body issues.
    This weekend, I’m teaching a workshop. There are hot springs there. No one in their right mind would wear a swimsuit in a hot spring…but, I suspect I will be victimized by ignorant mores.

  • mikeian471

    I refuse to wear anything when bathing swimmers are stupid

  • De McClung

    Good job, Felicity

  • Lamdba

    The one thing swimsuits are good for is making certain parts of the body seem a lot more interesting than they actually are.

  • BattleTrek47

    Great article.  I didn’t truly understand the joys of skinny dipping until my first Travasuns party.  I don’t know how I’ll ever wear a bathing suit again.