Spanish avatar Tere reports on how growing up in a relaxed atmosphere to beach clothing eventually made her a naturist
by Tere Munoz
I grew up in a village in Spain which didn’t have an official naturist beach, although there was one about 7kms away, on a bus route. But when you’re 14 a bus ride is beyond the limits of the little money you earned from doing chores, so the local beach was our playground, all summer and even good days after school. Here in Spain it’s legal to go naked if you aren’t deliberately trying to cause offence to anyone,
Tere, centre, with her friends in various types of beach wear.
The local culture was that going without a bikini top was normal, even on the local beach. When you are eight years old it is no remarkable thing. When you are 14 maybe a little more remarkable but you’ve grown up seeing your mother, aunties, grandmother maybe, and all your friends, be without a top, so it didn’t really matter.
So the beach was a top free beach for all ages. While not naturist, you would encounter people fully nude while changing all the time so that didn’t seem particularly remarkable either. People would pull off shorts to change into bikini bottoms or swim trunks. I knew what a naked man looked like before I was even old enough to process the thoughts that it was a penis.
By the time I got to 14 I had no feelings of being self-conscious. Sometimes I wore a bikini top, sometimes not. My friends did the same.
I think that the casual approach to nudity in the wider Spanish culture does lead to an acceptance of the naked body early on. At least, it does for those of us lucky to grow up on the coast. Maybe those in the interior are less free with their bodies, I don’t know.
This girl can go confidently nude amongst her topless female or clothed male friends because the culture she grew up in has given her that body confidence
Because we get long summer holidays at school in Spain, ten weeks from the end of June to the middle of September, our summer holidays were beach focused. At eight years you use the local beach. At fourteen we’d cycle to the naturist one because it was the beach for the grown ups, even though we weren’t grown ups. Locally, the summer of your fourteenth year was when the transition from local beach, filled with kids, ended and there was a rite of passage to the naturist one. We’d cycle there 3-4 times a week. I and most of my friends would have sunbathed or swum naked that summer, even if we sometimes would go back to wearing bikini panties. The guys would cycle with us, sure. We’d probably seen these guys nude when they were 7 or 8 or 9, so it didn’t make much difference to us seeing them at 14 or 16. Or us to them. We’d seen it all before. It was unremarkable.
The baby will grow up with body confidence its naturist parents taught it.
At 14 you are beginning to see the other sex in a different perspective. A guy in my class liked me, I liked him. We started dating. But I’d seen him naked lots of times before we dated, and he’d seen me naked. There was no desperate curiosity there to explore the other naked person.
Teens growing up with naturist learn respect for one another, and acceptance of the other gender.
I think this is an important lesson from the naturist culture. We grew up with a ready acceptance that boys and girls were different, knew what they looked like and didn’t feel any desperate need to tear each other’s clothes off. Naturism taught us the physiology of the opposite sex more practically than books or rude magazines. Naturism also taught us respect.
In a naturist society, we do not teach children shame about their bodies. We do not censor. This ‘learned behaviour’ will, in the future, be regarded as bad parenting.
I now have a daughter, and in the holidays I will take her to the beach, as my mother did with me. Sometimes my mother comes too. Spain is now richer, in some ways, than it was when I was growing up. Back then, we only had our bikes. Now, many more people have cars, including me, so I can drive to the naturist beach and not go to the local beach at all. There, three generations of our family can spend a day nude and it seems like a natural thing. There is no sense of shame or embarrassment. Naturism has taught us to respect our own bodies, those of other people, and to love the bodies we exist within.
(Photo captions by Ella)