Nudism in Norway Posted by kari on Jul 2, 2009 in Culture, Leisure
What motivated me to write a post about nudism in Norway? I was flipping through my pictures from my time living in Oslo and I came across a few pictures I took at a beach near Oslo. Most of my experience in the water was in Sognsvann, a lake up the street from where my apartment was. I never saw any nude sunbathers or swimmers on the shore or in the water there. But then I remembered back to my first visit to Norway…
After I graduated from high school, I went on a trip to the Mediterranean with fellow students in my history class. Instead of flying home when the trip was over, I flew to Norway where I met my dad to travel around most of the country. We covered a lot of ground, soaked up a lot of culture, and visited many relatives. We also stumbled upon a nude beach. I say stumbled not because we were intoxicated, but because we happened upon it without warning. You can imagine how awkward that could be as an 18 year old girl with your father.
We wanted to find a beach to relax and swim, so we hopped on a bus in Oslo that took us to Bygdøy, the peninsula outside of Oslo. After a brief walk towards the water, we found a path with signs leading to a beach. Upon first glance, it seemed like a normal, bathing-suit-on beach, but for some reason we kept walking. I guess we were in the spirit of exploring and thought we would find the best part of the beach-the best sand and a spot to put our towels that wasn’t within 5 ft. of the next party.
All the sudden we both realized that there were naked people everywhere. Old, naked people everywhere. Swimming in the water, lying in the sand, and the most exposed were sprawled out front-side up on large rocks. Honestly, I was not offended and wouldn’t have been uncomfortable had I wither been by myself, with friends, or a fellow nudist. But I was with my dad and wasn’t about to strip down and join the elderly in the nude. I don’t know if there were just a lot of old people at that beach that day or if attracted a particularly high number of old people. Regardless, we started getting weird looks. If I were them, I’d be weirded out to. Why is there a young girl with an older man, completely clothed, wandering around the nude beach? We didn’t intend to end up here, I swear” I wanted to tell them. Instead, we just bailed and didn’t really speak much of it.
As many of you probably know, nudism is much more accepted in Europe than it is in most of the rest of the world. Scandinavians in general are comfortable with public nudity. In Norway, there are about 20 declared nude beaches. The truth is though, with so much water, Norwegians have ample opportunity to take a swim naked and not be noticed, nor judged. I’m not exactly sure why Scandinavians are particularly comfortable with nudity, but I imagine it has something to do with positive body image, high self-esteem, stress relief, and being comfortable with one’s own sexuality-all things I would commend Scandinavians for.
If you are looking for a nude beach in Norway, you won’t have to look far. And it was probably just a coincidence that my dad and I came across a nude beach full of old people, but whatever, a naked body is a naked body as far as I’m concerned. I hope I’m comfortable enough with my own old body to be naked in public when I’m in my 70s. After all, what is there to be ashamed of?