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Why Public Nudity is Like Chicken Soup for the Soul

Spanish Nude Beach
Spanish Nude Beach

It started in Berlin. I was living there for the summer and my boyfriend and I were having dinner with some friends we’d known in Chiang Mai. We were sitting outside at one of my favorite Turkish restaurants in Neukölln (This one, it’s delicious. You’re welcome.) and they were telling us about all the different things they’d already done in Berlin that day. They ate burgers, here, saw a statue there, went to a nude bathhouse. A coed. Nude. Bathhouse.

Hold the phone.

Now these are two grown heterosexual American men. Call me a prude, but I was shocked. Mostly intrigued, but also shocked.

What did they do there? They said they had gone for over 4 hours. Were they just sitting around holding their junk in a steam room that whole time? Not possible! They’d die. (Don’t fact check me on that. I don’t actually know the length of time a human can physically spend in a steam room before kicking it.)

Throughout the conversation, they seemed perfectly at ease with the whole thing, and were even talking about going back before they left town. There were apparently multiple steam rooms, and saunas, and cold plunge pools, and even a DJ and a bar!

Needlesstosay, I was sold. I needed to go to the coed nude bathhouse.

My boyfriend (bless him) was always open minded about these things, and supported any opportunity that came about where I could celebrate my womanhood and my body without shame. He was in.

So the next day we looked up the Liquidrom Bathhouse, and hopped the U-Bahn. When we got there, we forked over our credit cards, and headed to our respective changing rooms. Well, not until after I grilled the front desk man about every possible detail.

Where was nudity mandatory? In which pools were swimsuits mandatory? Was there a limit to the number of drinks a person could order? Was he sure there wasn't a limit?

I was such an American.

So we go into our change rooms, and immediately something feels off. My boyfriend had walked into the room next to me, but I could still feel his presence. Not in like a “he’s always with me” kind of way, this isn’t that kind of post. But in that he was literally. Still. Right next to me.

I looked up and realized that I could see in the entire men’s changing room. And that they could see in ours. There were no walls! What was the point of the whole separate door charade??

We laughed awkwardly, and gave each other that “We got this” look of support before stripping down to our skivvies and heading out the other side of the locker room to the unknown.

What we found was incredible.

Everywhere we looked, men and women were lounging naked, drinking cocktails naked. Sitting in glass-walled saunas naked. And no one seemed to give a DAMN that people could see their naked bits, and they could see everyone else’s.

Liquidrom Saltwater Pool
Liquidrom Saltwater Pool

We spent the next four hours canoodling in the hot tubs, on the lounge chairs, and in the saltwater pool room with the DJ.

Other couples all around us seemed to be doing the same thing, so we didn’t feel like it was taboo to show affection. Remember, NO ONE CARES YOU’RE NAKED. It’s Europe. They have advertisements on the subway showing more skin than you do at the beach in the states. Bless your heart.

The liberation we felt after that experience was hard to shake. And why should we?

A year later, we found ourselves in Spain and decided to venture out to a nude beach to bare it all once again. Spanish people are not new to the concept of going topless, much like other parts of Europe.

That being said, you’d think it would be easier to access the nude beaches. We took a train an hour or so north of where we were staying, and then hiked a good 30 minutes along the coast. It was beautiful, of course, but damn the sangria from the night before was showing her face with every minute that the sun beat down on us.

When we finally reached the stretch of shore deemed naked-territory, we ditched our sweaty suits, and cuddled up under an umbrella. Groups of Spanish people chatted around us as we all just hung out with our stuff out. It was refreshing and liberating and one of the moments I’ve felt most alive.

The ocean breeze, the gritty sand. My white ass out for the sun to scorch. The sheer amount of fucks not given. It was awesome.

I look back on my time in Vietnam, when I would go to the sauna and cold plunge pool at my gym. All of the women there were butt-ass naked. Except me. I wore a bathing suit. They would sit in the sauna giving each other massages—naked-- and I would sit there in my Victoria’s Secret bathing suit, hiding.


They had lady bits. I had lady bits. Who carrrres?

I feel regretful that I was so embarrassed. How good would that cold plunge pool have felt without my bathing suit as a barrier? How much more relaxed would the sauna have made me feel if I wasn’t so busy trying to sit comfortably with a stick up my ass?

I feel grateful for having had such a supporting partner to usher me through those moments of liberation. And for always supporting my desire to be nude behind closed doors, and sometimes outside of them.

There are enough things in the world to be anxious about, our bodies don’t need to be one of them. (Pssst, half the world is working with the same goods you got. It’s nothing they haven’t seen before!)

Does this mean I’m one of those "free-spirits" who walks around all my American friends in the nude now? No. I respect that people have boundaries, and societal norms would have me wear clothes in most social situations in America.

I am however much more inclined to bare it all, and not think twice about doing so. I’m much more inclined to support anyone who feels comfortable with their body enough to bare it, or who wants to feel that way.

Life is short, go swim naked once in awhile.

The Beginning of The Bold Life Movement

Below is an email I sent to a group of close friends last week.

The responses I received, combined with some incredible talks I recently heard (more on that later) inspired me to start this blog.

Hopefully this blog will inspire you to start something too.

SUBJECT: I did something bold today....thought I would share!

Some of you knew me when this relationship dominated my life, some of you knew me after. Either way I know that I've at least mentioned my long distance/online boyfriend Nick* from [city name]*. I met him in 9th grade (online), and eventually started dating my junior year. Multiple hours of the day spent texting, talking on AIM, and racking up our parents' phone bills. Multiple cross country trips to visit each other, attend high school with each other, even prom, and ultimately Mexico. He was my best friend for so much of my adolescence and he was my first *AHEM*.

Anyway, distance, youth, and technology make our long-distance breakup a big blur. Drunken texts (mostly mine) and "don't talk to me anymore"s (mostly his) left me without closure for SO. LONG. I can't even tell you how many times my mom has said, "Kimber. Let it go."

True to form, I ignored that advice and just bided my time til the day I would go back to [city name]*. The internet would once again prove a useful tool for knowing too much about people and I would easily message him on Facebook and get the reunion I always wanted.

Well not quite.

I'm in [city name]* now. I'm here for a conference with friends and I did what we all knew I would do, I looked him up on Facebook.... Got nothing. Looked him up on Instagram. Nothing. Linkedin, twitter, whitepages, google. All yielded NOTHING. As if he DOESN'T post pictures of his food and let people tag him in drunken photos from 4th of July. (What kind of monster is he??)

So in a last ditch effort I googled his full name, Nicholas*. One picture showed up. This picture.*

So for three days, I've had this knowledge. For three days I've known he is a short 6 minute drive from where I'm staying between the hours of 9-5. For three days, I've been in [city name], wondering how to casually show up at an auction house* and not get the cops called on me. Not get screamed at by someone who thought they had eliminated me from their life.

I didn't even know if he'd be thereI mean what is the work environment even like at an auction house?? Does he go in every day? Does he wear a suit? Does he talk really fast now? Who knows.

I managed to convince a girlfriend to come with me as a buffer. Also to catch me when I fainted.

We blasted "eye of the tiger" in our rental car as we drove to the Auction House and I screamed and laughed out my nerves.

When I got there, I asked the closest front desk person "if Nick* was working"... like I'm in freaking high school calling Subway to see if my bf is working that day. She went back into her office and said she'd call him to come down.


He actually does come into the office. I gripped the nearest structure for support, hoping it wasn't some $15,000 antique waiting to be auctioned off. My girlfriend took a seat on the sofa, trying to act as natural as someone could for feigning invisibility.

And then he walked out. He was wearing the same skater clothes I had seen him in 12 years earlier and after the longest 10 seconds of my life, he said "Kim?? is that you?"

And then I passed out.

Ok, not really. I said that I was shaking... as if that would make it stop. Said that I had looked him up on google, and wondered if he wanted to grab coffee while I was in town. He made some passing comment about me being a stalker (as you do). But really, it went so much better than I could have ever thought.

He asked if I could wait a few minutes and wanted to grab lunch. At a nearby cafe, we talked and reminisced and I dropped the word "surreal" a good 20 times. I was very smooth.

I showed him pictures of Abby, and explained my current lifestyle in a way that [I hoped] didn't make me sound like a jerk. He said he lived at his grandma's because she needed someone to take care of her and refused to leave her house. I remembered how he was always more selfless than me.

It was a reunion I've literally dreamt about for 12 years. Because that's what lack of closure will do. He was so sweet and so thankful for me being bold, and my heart is so happy and warm.

It could have gone horribly, but I feel rewarded for taking the chance and I just had to share! BE BOLD LADIES. In whatever way that means to you.

xoxox Kim

*I've changed his name and hid his photos and the city he lives for privacy's sake. Just because I can look him, doesn't mean everyone should. 

Here are the responses I received from my friends:

So from these messages, I was able to glean a few things:

First, someone needs to teach my friends how to update their email signature on their iPhone.

Second, no one thought I was bat-shit crazy for having tracked down a high school love to find closure! So either we’re all bat-shit crazy (haven't ruled it out) or the happy ending made the ballsy move easier to digest.

The biggest takeaway, though, was that every single friend SUPPORTED me. All the taboo or scary things I’ve done in my life have maybe invited a few questions, but mostly they’ve inspired or impressed those who knew me.

People ask me all the time, “How did you quit your job to travel?” “How did you make money and live wherever you want?” “How did you date someone across the country when you were 16??”

The answer is usually just… because I wanted to. I often don’t ask permission because I won’t accept no as an answer. (I'll explain in a later post the logistics of dating someone you met online when you're a minor, pre-tinder, pre-facebook. YES I'm that old.)

For 12 years, I didn’t accept no as an answer and last week it came to pay off.

Do I think this is a green light for anyone to track down old flames or not appease someone’s request for space? No. Absolutely not. You could maybe --probably-- end up in jail.

I’m saying I had a gut instinct and I went for it. I didn’t let my fear of rejection or the advice of my parents stop me. My need to know and my willingness to act trumped everything else.

It’s okay to take risks if you trust yourself.

It’s okay to be curious about things people tell you to leave alone.

Sometimes fostering that sense of curiosity is more important than trying to be courageous. Author James Stephens has a quote, “Curiosity will conquer fear more than bravery will.”

Curiosity for me has come in many forms. Most of them challenging the status quo in some way. Why can't I love someone I met on the internet? Why should I work from a desk in Maryland if I could work from a desk in Italy? Why are cheez-its so much better than cheese nips?

Why should I feel ashamed of these questions? 

In this blog I want to share stories and adventures that I would not have otherwise had if I didn't ask why?

Ultimately I want to hear the stories of my readers as well. If we don't share what we know, then how will anyone else learn?


  1. This is the first post. Chances are good that my writing will improve.
  2. It's okay to take risks when you trust yourself.
  3. Give people the chance to be inspired by your courage and curiosity.
  4. Cheez-its ftw.