by Chelsea Briers.
Welcome to Black’s Beach, a beautiful beach located in sunny San Diego California. It isn’t just any ordinary California beach, because half of the beach happens to be nude.
I’ve never really been one to go outside my comfort zone so the idea of going to a nude beach both enticed and frightened me at the same time. Yet doing something unexpected, something most wouldn’t believe, appealed to me.. Also, feeling that free and being that open while sharing the experience with others who are just as vulnerable as you are. I of course did my research before hand, I looked up Black’s Beach and found a website dedicated to those of us who dare to go nude and give tips and warnings for first timers. The website left me feeling a little intimidated. They gave these sort of unspoken set of rules, a way to avoid the perverts and the weirdos. Don’t go off by yourself if you’re a woman, stay close to other larger groups of people, and most importantly avoid a Robert Goulet look alike. The site made me anxious in the way that they divided the groups of people by colors and letting you know which ones will have your back. That made it sound like an episode of Gangland.
I decided to go with my boyfriend. Which could possibly make a lot of people uncomfortable or threatened, being with their significant other on a nude beach. What if they stared too long? What if someone stared at him too long? And for my boyfriend, what if he got too excited? All these thoughts plagued my mind prior to going. I was worried about all these size two and fours with perfect breasts, slim toned legs and flat stomachs. I am certainly no size two but I didn’t want to be the only person on the nude beach who didn’t have a celebrity’s beach body. I didn’t want to be the only person who was under sixty who could afford to lose about fifteen pounds. My boyfriend being extremely thin, was more concerned about his manhood more than anything else, being a grower instead of a shower.
While first arriving at the beach, we had to make the long treacherous climb down what felt like a million stairs. The long walk only made for more anticipation of the experience we were about to embark on. When we finally made it to the end of the stairs we started heading towards the right hand side of the beach seeing naked bodies near by. My boyfriend forced me into picking the place where we would be sitting and I despised making that decision. I decided sit near two couples to the right of us, a man in his forties in front of us, and a couple of men all alone in varying ages to the left of us. We put our stuff down and I felt strangely calm. I didn’t feel threatened or embarrassed or nervous. Looking around had calmed me, bodies felt more like bodies where people just had the size and shape that they did and regardless of what it was, it didn’t feel like something to judge with disdain but to admire with a common respect shared between the both of you.
Me and my boyfriend both stripped quickly while trying to act natural as if this wasn’t our first time being completely naked on a beach and we were left feeling more comfortable than we had been in the few minutes spent finding a spot clothed. On a nude beach, being clothed makes you an outsider and to me doesn’t really feel fair. It doesn’t feel fair that a fully clothed person can be on the nude beach and stare at you completely nude. It needs to be a sort of trade off between both parties and without one of those parties participating it feels one-sided and a little uncomfortable. The man in his forties turned and stared to watch me undress and it surprisingly didn’t make me feel too uncomfortable. He wasn’t too creepy about it and you feel a sort of pride in your body, that it’s worthy of noticing. I began scanning my options for who to interview. Who looks like they would be the friendliest or not be annoyed with being approached and asked questions. I decided to take a walk down the beach with my boyfriend while scanning nude bodies and faces while trying not to stare, (although most websites that talk about nude beaches say not to stare most people do and don’t seem to mind if you do) I spotted a woman who appeared to be in her early forties standing and putting suntan lotion on while her husband lounged in the chair next to her.
They looked friendly and approachable, the type of people who would like to be asked questions, who would want to be as helpful as possible. I told my boyfriend that I wanted to make a walk back to our spot grab my notebook and within those five to ten minutes hopefully muster up enough strength to approach someone completely nude while also being completely nude. We walked around the back way since people are staring more towards the ocean than behind at the rocks.
I introduced myself, explained that it was my first time here and also that it was for both pleasure and work. She introduced herself as Cathy and introduced her husband Sam. Cathy and Sam had been coming to Black’s Beach for the past three years. For the most part Cathy did most of the talking, her husband Sam, although a nude beach regular, still had a shyness about him. Which didn’t feel like it was because of the nudity just more of his personality. I asked if I could ask a few questions and she was more than happy to help. I first asked Cathy about why a nude beach and how it went from just a thought that popped into her head to going through with the actual experience. She said, “When I had kids (she has two children) I put on weight and could never seem to lose it. About four years ago I became dedicated to being active and taking care of myself. Once I reached my goal I felt that there was no better way to really feel proud of myself than to go to a nude beach, to be comfortable enough to show what I’ve worked for, not for others but for myself.”
At first, most might think it’s the other way around. That it would be the man convincing his woman to go to a nude beach but with Cathy and Sam that wasn’t the case, it was in fact opposite.
“It wasn’t easy, but eventually he caved in and said he would at least give it a chance. I told him if he absolutely hated it we would never have to go again,” she said. The misconception perhaps comes from the idea with nudity being seen as sexual but that isn’t what nude beaches are about and inappropriate behavior is frowned upon. It’s because it’s not about sexualizing others but the appreciation for the human body the way it comes into this world, not letting any of your imperfections hold you back.
When I asked Cathy if people tend to think the experience is something that is misconstrued as sexual, she said without hesitation, “I myself find bathing suits to draw a more sort of provocative attention towards the body, the suit is drawing that attention there with as little clothing as possible. Of course there are always going to be people who sexualize something no matter what, clothed or not, but other than those you try to avoid, everyone is really respectful of each other and we look out for others who might not know the beach as well or newcomers.”
I thought Cathy made a really interesting point when comparing the attire on say a regular California beach to a nude beach. Somehow at the nude beach I felt more comfortable completely nude and somehow I felt a million times less threatened by the better beach bodies. Cathy was a lot more in-tune with her body while Sam though seemingly comfortable enough, though had a little less of the openness that I could feel coming from Cathy. Cathy then asked me if I had encountered any “interesting” characters or if anyone tried bothering us, which at the time no one had.
“Often what happens is people will sit a little too closely or stare a little too long but most of the time they enjoy staring from a distance.” Later in the day, my boyfriend and I encountered exactly one of the pervert weirdos that the website and Cathy talked about. A man sat extremely close to me and my boyfriend, fortunately enough it was time to leave and as soon as the show was over and clothes were back on, he left. I thanked Cathy and Sam for their time and left feeling proud, not only of my courage to bare it all but also approaching someone while doing so.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience and would without doubt do it again. I can’t think of a time where I have ever really felt so incredibly comfortable in a public setting while also being exposed. At Black’s Beach it wasn’t just about being nude but the admiration and acceptance of your own body as well as others. I think nude beaches can sometimes get a bad reputation. People are opposed often before even giving it a fair chance, second thought, or consideration. It isn’t as scary as one would think and I think it is something that should be given a chance. Although it may not be for everyone it was an enjoyable experience that I will certainly never forget and would recommend others to go out of their comfort zone and try it as well.