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AFTER GREECE

Before we were married, my wife Helena had never been to a nude beach. For our honeymoon, we went to Europe. In the Greek Islands, Helena discovered that it was not only perfectly acceptable, but rather the local norm to frolicking on one of the many beaches completely nude. Coming from the Mid-West, she had some reservation about stripping in public. It wasn't that she was a prude, but just that it was so public. And so casual. And without guilt. Being raised by stanch good upright Lutheran mid-westerners, meant a lifetime of guilt and embarrassment and loathing of one's body. So, being nude on a public beach was hard for her a first, but after that she wanted to be naked at every beach whether it was a nude beach or not! So every time on our honeymoon we'd go to a beach, she'd toss off her clothes. The Europeans whether nude themselves or not, hardly seemed to notice.

Later, my wife would tell me how much it meant to finally let go of her sense of body-shame. It was like getting to be a little kid, playing in the sand at lakes, before adults made her feel bad about her body and herself. We now live in Oregon, and teh beaches are freezing, even in summer. But a few times a year, the wind stops and the sun warms the sand. Being so wind-swept, the beaches are rugged and empty. Not much but rocks and driftwood.

Helena likes to strip off her clothes and soak up the sun, recalling faraway Greece, and our vacation there. She doesn't worry if anyone sees her. "Maybe I'll set a good example," she says. "A little encouragement helped me."

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