Why I dislike the shame suit.
For those who have read my previous posts, you will already know that I am an advocate of increased public tolerance of nudity. I am not opposed to clothing, as it does have a purpose, but for many reasons, a person may choose to not wear clothes, and I believe that should be a valid option.
I understand that I may be a minority in the community and that there is a long way to go before choosing not to wear anything becomes an acceptable clothing choice.
However, there is one activity where I think nudity should be much more readily accepted, and that is swimming. And I am not just talking about the occasional skinny dip in a secluded river or the ocean. I mean all swimming, including public swimming pools.
I can hear the sudden hiss as people inhale through gritted teeth at the idea. But hear me out.
The swimsuit, or as I have heard it called the “shame suit”, is a relatively recent development and our ancestors have swum naked for thousands of years. Developed around the late 1600s and early 1700s with modesty in mind and to cope with changing attitudes, the swimsuit was something worn in Europe by women only while men continued to swim freely.
At its introduction, the swimsuit was made from heavy fabrics such as wool or canvas and due to its weight when wet was unsuitable for actual swimming. Chances of drowning must have increased, but at least a lady's modesty was preserved.
Since its introduction, the swimsuit has been evolving, making it more practical for swimming safely. This has meant a reduction in the volume of fabric, and as technology has advanced, new lighter fabrics, which are more suited to moving through the water. While swimsuits were developed to preserve modesty, they were not particularly fit for purpose, and subsequent designs have been driven by function and safety over modesty.
Let's be honest, modern swimsuits really don’t offer much modesty, especially when they are wet. Holding on to the pretence of modesty seems futile. Once in the water, their modesty function is often redundant, and they simply become an uncomfortable accessory serving no purpose.
While sunning beside the pool, or at the beach, there is an abundance of items available that provide cover should the need arise. Towels, shawls, sarongs but to name a few.
So really what we need the swimsuit for, is getting from our seat to the water and from the water back to our seat. It has to be the most useless piece of clothing ever invented and we spend over USD 20,000,000,000.00 a year on it.
The other issue that I have with swimwear, and one of the major reasons swimwear is banned outright at clothing-optional venues is to do with hygiene. Wet bathing suits are a haven for germs, bacteria and mould.
How many people wash their swimsuits between use? Often it gets hung on the line, in the sun with the towel, to be re-used, allowing germs and bacteria to multiply. We live in a world where we are keen to kill 99.9% of germs with our cleaning products, which I believe weakens our natural immunity to such things, but we are happy to foster all sorts of bacteria, yeast and mould growths in our warm damp clothing.
If people were allowed to swim naked, then it wouldn’t be such a big thing. As a soft step towards increased tolerance of public nudity, a swim naked policy could go a long way to reducing body shame as well as reducing the impact on the environment.
The argument of environmental savings made by not manufacturing swimwear is admittedly one where a very small improvement might occur, but surely any improvement is a step in the right direction. It is a small step we can all take, which will save money and reduce waste, and from our current environmental plight, we need every positive action we can get, no matter how small.,
I haven’t owned swimwear for many years. Most of my swimming is in the ocean or rivers and is done naked. Occasionally I have had to ask others if they would be offended by my nudity, before I strip off, but have yet to have anyone object. I prefer not to swim at all if I have to wear anything, but do have an old pair of shorts that double as trunks if there is no option, such as a public pool or at a gym.
I am yet to meet anyone who, after trying swimming naked, has said that they prefer the feeling with swimwear on.
Encouragingly, I have just read an article where the town of Goettingen in Germany has recommended that the city's swimming pools allow all swimmers to go topless from May 1st 2022. This was after a woman was asked to cover but said she identified as male. The local authorities, after much debate, decided the fairest way was to allow everyone to bathe topless. It is a pilot programme, but a big step towards topless equality.
Either by design or by evolution, whatever your point of view, I believe we were born wearing the perfect swimsuit.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.
Another great write-up, Steve. Love it!
A couple of points come to mind on reading your thoughts. The first is a quick one - that another health consideration when swimming in the sea is the danger that togs impose from a painful skin rash, known medically as sea-bather's eruption, caused by tiny creatures called hydromedusae, which get trapped between the togs and the skin. Swimming naked removes this problem completely! https://www.haurakinaturally.nz/hydromedusae
The second thought revolves around this word "modesty", the meaning of which has been significantly distorted over the centuries. The word comes from the latin, Modestia, meaning the quality of having a moderate opinion of oneself, retiring demeanour, disinclination to presumption, unobtrusiveness, not showing off or flaunting one's wealth. It originally had nothing at all to do with concealing parts of the body. Even the early church conducted baptisms naked, while at the same time the apostle Paul preached that Christian women should dress modestly - not to go about flaunting their extravagant hairstyles and expensive jewelery and clothing. Sadly, the teachings of Gnosticism infiltrated the church, introducing the concept that nakedness led to debauchery and evil. Centuries of traditional thinking are now a huge challenge to undo!