Catalonia has launched a campaign to protect some of its beaches – from people who wear clothes.
1. Long-standing tradition shrivelling up
The north-eastern Spanish region has a long-standing tradition of nudism on the beach. Spain has no anti-nudism laws and you can strip off anywhere, but there are particular beaches that are strongly associated with the pure pleasure of being naked by the sea. They have developed as nudist beaches because naturists head there instead of elsewhere “so as not to bother people”, lifelong nudist Segimon Rovira told The Guardian. Ironically, it is now the nudists who are being bothered.
The Catalan Naturism Club says member numbers are shrivelling up due to ignorant beachgoers who do not realise they are visiting a traditionally nudist beach, and/or do not wish to disrobe. Many nudists feel self-conscious when others around them prefer to keep their clothes on. They say the fact that others stay covered up is disrespectful. And remaining clothed is only the smallest part of the problem.
2. Anti-social influx
The newcomers’ attitude towards naturism is the real issue. The nudists increasingly find themselves being laughed at, “stared at or harassed”, says Rovira, with, he says, women being the most frequent target of anti-social behaviour.
Many nudist beaches are experiencing a huge influx of tourists, who seem to be following online-influencer content, discovering hidden coves and little-known paradises. They ignore signs signalling the beach etiquette and then act as if it is the nudists who are behaving strangely.
Even the seemingly innocent activity of taking pictures of idyllic surroundings and filming the beach is having a chilling effect on nudists, who do not wish to find images of themselves in the nude posted all over the internet.
Under these conditions, those who want to try out nudity are unlikely to do so, and even experienced nudists are being put off.
3. The battle of the birthday suit
In response, the battle of the birthday suit has begun. The Naturist-Nudist Federation of Catalonia has asked the Catalan government to meet them to discuss “the discrimination that nudists face on the beaches of Catalonia.”
In addition, a campaign aimed at upholding the naturist status of some beaches is underway. A good-humoured promotional video shows a couple loaded down with paraphernalia struggling all the way to a secret cove, only for their jaws to drop when they find it is thick with carefree nudists. The pair’s initial shock and staring give way to unadulterated fun when they too decide to get their kit off.
“We have many such paradises in our region,” says the caption. “Let’s look after them, by keeping them clothes-free and prejudice-free.”