Warning: this post talks about nudity, yes! If you are offended by female bodies, worried your parents might disapprove of you reading this, misogynist or simply a wanker, feel free to leave my site right now. I don´t think this post is offensive or unfit for young readers (there are no exposed butts in it anyway), but I am quite open-minded, so you (or your government) might feel differently. Ready Freddy? Let´s dive right in.
Nudity is a double edged sword; everybody seems to discuss what women are supposed to wear and how much they should (be allowed to) cover themselves up. You read that right; even in 2017, there are still people in “developed” countries who would like to dictate women what they can (not) wear.
While there are places where it gets dangerous if you show “too much”, elsewhere you are going to receive frowns and bullying in case you dare to cover yourself, be it for religious or personal reasons.
But this article is not meant to be political or sexual in its core; what I want to talk about is how nakedness makes women happy.
I have talked to several women who love naking (compression of naked and hiking) and I have become more open about my own body and nudity in recent years. Let me share what I found out.
If you want, you can even take off your clothes while reading, I don´t mind. No need to send me a photo to prove it.
What is naking?
Naking is a short form of naked hiking. It is really that straight forward – naking refers to people (men, women, couples, groups…) who enjoy going on hikes naked. Some of them do all of the hike undressed, others just take off their clothes on the top of the hill, let the sweat dry and freely enjoy the view.
In this article, I focus on female naked hikers: not because there are no men doing it, but because I want to stress the freedom we as women strive to achieve. The women I contacted to put together this article come from different continents and cultures, but they all share something: they love the nature and they love to freely connect with it, partially or completely naked.
Naking is more about comfortable than sexy in my point of view; it is, as I understand it, about being in tune with yourself and with your surroundings at the same time. It is about freedom, unrestrained by people and buildings. It is about being as you are and remembering that this is what your body feels like. Naking is not about showing, but rather about feeling.
Being naked in the nature is a unique experience and I encourage you to try it before you discard nudism and naking as something creepy and inappropriate.
Read more: Why I don´t love traveling alone
Nakedness is natural
When was the last time you were nude?
This is a very easy question: of course, you undressed to take a shower, you were naked for a couple of minutes when changing clothes, you have spent a good deal of time in the arms of your lover too – and you probably weren´t wearing your pajamas.
“This idea is not wild or crazy, we were all born naked and we will die naked. Our society puts so much emphasis on treating nakedness as a sexual thing, when in fact, it’s completely natural! To me being naked is just being as God made me. It makes me feel free and happy, “ says Sarah, one of the women I interviewed for this article.
She continues: “To me it’s very innocent, it makes me feel like a little kid. I feel like I am part of nature, all masks fall down, and it’s just me, as I am, my naked body connecting with the elements. It’s also pretty thrilling, as if I’m on an adventure.”
Daily we wear clothes as our second skin. We dress to impress (said somebody on Instagram), to flirt, to get that job, to hide our fat butt, to have respect, or at least in order not to freeze. Sometimes we (un)dress to make a social or political statement.
Many of us put a lot of thought to what we are wearing and where, watch how the fabrics and colors change our appearance, we hope they make us glow. Our favorite clothes are a little piece of our comfort zone we can carry everywhere.
Maybe that is why it is so difficult to part with them – to be naked and to stay naked.
Read more: No, you really cannot travel for “free”, so sorry. Here is why.
Why do women like naking?
It is the comfort, the freedom and the relaxed feeling after physical exercise. Women I talked to don´t nake because they are exhibicionist – quite the opposite, usually they describe themselves as shy and some would never even go to a nudist beach. Read what they shared with me:
Alishia is a 32 years old woman from Kenya who works in fashion and design. Her first experience with naking was in Alesund, Norway.
“It’s really fun because most of the time you find there is no one at all or very few people on top of the mountain,” she tells me.
“At least it makes you relax and feel comfortable without feeling shy. I can go with friends or alone to have some me-time. I usually prefer to undress while on the peak of the mountain because when you get on top you just wanna be “freestyle” – I mean, you just want to lie down and relax and breath the fresh air while naked. The feeling is amazing.”
While the repercussions of even wearing trousers deemed too tight in Kenya can be public stripping by random men, the local women rally and protest against this culture more and more, like in the My Dress, My Choice protests. Alishia told me she would never recommend hiking naked in Kenya – the risk is simply too high. She has done it in France and Norway, the latter being her favorite. “I think I feel much better when I hike in Norway. I don’t have a proper answer but I can say Norway makes me feel better.”
Does she recommend trying naking out? “It’s a personal choice. It’s not that I get any benefits out of it. I just love doing it just like that but there is no harm in trying.”
Read more: Hiking the Lycian way in Turkey
Claire is the author behind the Forever Chasing Wanderlust travel blog. She started naking last year in Australia and France. However, she shared with me she plans to continue in Patagonia, South Africa and Brazil which she is about to visit.
At first, her words surprise me:
“I used to really hate being naked. Well, I still do, really. I always think I need to be prettier or skinnier. But this year I have turned a corner and started to just appreciate being me! I’m never naked at home, but when I’m outside and it’s so pretty… why not! I have never been to a nudist beach though – shock, I know…
After sweating up the mountain nothing feels better than standing there naked enjoying the view! It’s so freeing, because when are you naked outside? Never! For me, if there is no one around, clothes are coming off. I haven´t met anyone yet, but I assume it will happen eventually!”
Claire has always been accompanied by her husband so far:
“First time this occurred to me was back home in Australia. There is never anyone around so I said to my husband – when we get to the end of a hike we should just get naked, sit around and enjoy nature. He’s like sure, why not. Then I was telling my Norwegian friend about this and he’s like: Oh yeah, it’s called Naking and very popular in Norway.
Anyway, so I looked it up and I was like wow, yeah, it’s totally a thing. People do full hikes naked. For me I prefer just to be naked at the top of a mountain or in a certain area. If I ever go to Norway again I would totally do it with my friend and his mates! They are always naked somewhere, “ she laughs.
This is definitely up there in the competition for the most epic GNA pic of all time!!! Wow!!! Thanks for sharing @ginolagazio, tight rope walking over the Illawarra! This took some serious balls.. #getnaked #bodypositive #tightrope #illawarra #extreme #whataview #ourbestphotoever? #nature #itsonlynatural #feelthefreedom #earth #hike #embrace #itsjustabum #normalisenudity #freethebooty #l4l #getoutside #outdoorliving #thegreatoutdoors #bodyconfidence #adventure #hiking #explore #experience #travel #bucketlist #nakedadventures #nakedinnature #getnakedaustralia
Some places are more relaxed about nudity than others, Australia being at the liberal end: there is even an Instagram account called Get Naked Australia, as Claire mentioned to me. She is careful about where to hike naked though:
“I will only undress if there is nobody around…not everyone is as free and easy about it! And I don’t want to get arrested. In Australia I wouldn’t care at all…no one would really say anything. You might get a look but most people would be supportive. I didn’t do it in the US because there were too many people on the trails and I’m sure someone would be “offended”. I really admire people who can really be naked anywhere and give 0 fucks what anyone thinks! You always think someone is looking at you, thinking, ugh, she is fat, or her boobs are weird, or her stomach is not flat. But most of the time no one really cares. Naking is just fun and something to do… the only problem is the weather! I wanted to do it in Canada but it was snowing and so cold I couldn’t bring myself to take layers off.”
Read more: What if I die in a foreign land?
Sarah, Morocco / Canada
Sarah has naked in several countries, but starts off telling me nudity is not something easily accepted within her culture:
“I am Moroccan and Canadian and nudism is 100% taboo in both cultures, especially in Morocco where Islam is the main religion and women are to adhere to a very strict and modest dress code. It is not something that is acceptable at all and I would never be able to tell my family about this activity. I’ve naked mostly in Honduras, but also in Colombia, Brazil, Canada and the U.S.”
Same as other women I talked to, she is not keen on being seen:
“I always avoid it if there’s a chance we’ll meet normal people on the way. I’m not trying to exhibit myself or show my body to strangers, I’m shy when it comes to that, so I avoid it if I’m in a very public and frequented place. I don’t feel like having people seeing me naking or judging.
Thank God, that has never happened or it might have been awkward, but last time, as I was hiking the waterfalls few hours out of Tegucigalpa, it came close. I had time to put my clothes back on before we were met in the forest by about 20 army guards in full uniforms and rifles advising us to turn back because it was getting dark. I don’t even want to imagine the scene if they had found me naking.”
I ask Sarah how she first started:
“My first time was just spontaneous, I was alone with my boyfriend at the time and I was in such a happy state. No one was around, the sun was shining hard, we were surrounded by waterfalls and I just felt constrained by clothing so I decided to be one with nature and strip off! So far I’ve only done it with my ex-boyfriend because we had a connection and came from a place of non-judgment. When I hike with other friends, I keep my clothes on. But I often frequent nude beaches and it is something that is an integral part of my life and has been for the last 2 years.”
Would she recommend other women to try?
“Of course! It’s liberating! We tend to be so self-conscious about our bodies (or at least I am), but you don’t see trees saying “I wish my leaves were bigger” or a river saying “I wish I was thinner.”… when I do it, I become part of nature which means I am perfect as I am, cellulite and all. I’m part of this world.”
Her favorite place for naking might surprise you: “Honduras is definitely a place people don’t visit (usually because of safety reasons) but there are gorgeous forests outside of Tegucigalpa. That’s the most beautiful place I’ve visited. I would just say avoid it if you know you’re in a zone full of mosquitoes!”
Forget about the looks and think of the feels.
Your body is part of who you are but nothing you wear can become part of you – that´s why you should strive to make peace with the body and get to know it better. Your body is not “it” but rather you – you feel, you love, you enjoy, or you feel restrained. You don´t need to treat your body as an object.
Speaking with women who hike naked made me realize how close we are: no matter from which culture they came, I felt our experience and feelings are similar. We love being natural without our bodies being sexualized 100% of the time; we long for relaxing without social constraints; we also feel others might not approve of our life choices, but we decide to move on with our lives anyway.
Perhaps getting naked in the middle of the woods or on top of a mountain is not for everyone, but I have started to do it more often recently. I feel happy and I feel love when I do – not only love for being free, but also for my body that, as a river, does not wish to be skinnier or taller, but certainly longs to be accepted and taken care of.
Have you tried getting naked in the nature? Did this article inspire you to do so? Do you have problems with loving your body? What is the best way to relax and be free for you? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Update 5th of July 2017: The full interview with a naked hiker I kept promising you is finally published! Read it here:
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We are hitchhiking from Europe to India and we didn´t prepare a single thing – stick around to see if we can make it! You can cheer us on if you think we´ll get there, or laugh about us if we don´t.
Stray story seeker. Hungry hitchhiker. Wannabe polyglot. Aspiring travel writer. Currently bumming around in Georgia.
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