Doing the Naked Macarena

body image self love
Doing the Naked Macarena

My husband and I were relaxing on the top tier of the lido deck when one of the cruise staff started calling from the lower pool area “Time for line dancing!! Come on down! It will be awesome!”

My husband and I rolled our eyes… OMG line dancing. Geez, maybe all cruising truly is for seniors…

Of course, the first song was the macarena. Cue the even bigger eye-roll. And then I thought, Hey, I’ve never done the NAKED macarena!!!

I flew down the steps to the lower area to join in the dance!

Naked macarena, here I come!


A Little Bit of Info Before Continuing

Whenever I say that I went on a naked cruise, there are a few questions everyone asks… so I’d like to answer those for you first.

Yes, there are such things as naked cruises — this one was called “The Big Nude Boat”! But they definitely aren’t about swinging and having kinky sex at sea (well you can… but that’s up to you). These are naturist cruises where 3,500 people gather on a huge Princess Cruise Ship to simply be outside in the sun and be completely naked together.

In fact, there are strict rules about picking people up. Absolutely no sexual overtures are allowed. People can literally be “kicked off at the next port” if they are lecherous and make it uncomfortable for others. It is just about the absolute joy of being naked and free in the sunshine — like the sensual joy of skinny-dipping times a thousand.

No, men don’t walk around with erections. The nudity isn’t sexualized like it is when it’s hidden, so your mind just isn’t there. Plus, if it happens, no one really cares. It will go down, or you can go into the pool. It’s really not a big deal.

Yes, the cruise staff is all clothed.


The Nude Beach

We had overcome our fear of public nudity at a nudist resort in Jamaica the previous year. It had been on my bucket list to try a naked beach at least once. My husband was not so interested. But luckily there was lots of rum at the resort and there was no way his wife was going to the naked beach alone.

The first day was horrifying. I was so uncomfortable! Where should I look? Was it rude to look anywhere but someone’s eyes? What did I do when the staff came around to serve me a drink? What if someone looked at me? What did that mean?

The second day was a little better. I realized that it was normal to look at people’s bodies. We did it whether they were clothed or not. It wasn’t weird or lecherous. It wasn’t judgemental. It was just human nature.

By the third day, neither of us had any idea what the big deal had been. We could walk up to the bar and get food, go in the hot tub, and chat with the folks around us. It was so easy and natural. It became incredibly apparent just how many weird hangups we had about nudity… and they were all unnecessary.


A Million Body Types

When I tell people that I love to go to nudist resorts, the most common response is “OMG. I just wouldn’t want to look at most people naked!”

There might have been a time when I understood this… but not anymore. The beautiful thing about nude events — especially cruises — is that you very quickly realize that there is literally an infinite number of body shapes and sizes.

Fashion and clothing tend to try to push us into very specific shapes that are supposed to be attractive. This is how they sell us the clothes. Between that and Hollywood, we end up with deep programs that say that “only this is attractive”.

But when you think about it, this means that maybe 1% of the population is actually attractive. What about the other 99%?

Well, they are beautiful. I remember watching a woman walking along the beach one day and thinking that we were all like plasticine people. She had a tiny little upper body and little waist. Then her body just flowed into these wide hips and then down to her little feet. Her husband had this great big upper body and then skinny legs. Other people had big boobs and big bums. Some had no boobs and no bums.

It was literally like we all start out as blobs of plasticine and then get squished and squeezed into absolutely unique shapes — not one better than another — just totally unique.

Bathing suits tend to cut our bodies up into sections that we can look at and judge. As a woman, I can wear a bikini and look at my body and think, “Oh my boobs look ok, but my tummy is flabby, my bum is ok, and there is cellulite on my legs”. But naked, our skin just flows into this beautiful whole being. There are no pieces to criticize — just a single beautiful whole.

This beauty in diversity was even more obvious on the cruise. The average age was older for sure. So nearly everyone had scars from something. Normally, we don’t think about the scars from the gallbladder surgery, c-sections, broken arm, or appendectomies. They are covered by clothes most of the time. But they are quite obvious when we are naked because our eyes follow the natural flow of the skin until a scar interrupts it. For the first couple of days, I have to admit I became fascinated by all of the different scars. But then, it became normal — just a sign of a life well-lived.

The moment that I truly gave up all self-image issues was when I saw the most beautiful man sitting with his friends. He had this lovely face and strong upper body and tattoos from being in the army. Then, he began to get up. The first thing he did was attach crutches to his arms — because he had no legs.

I have to admit that did stare at him for a while. There were a thousand programs re-wiring in my mind. Ideas about attractiveness, strength, body image, and every second I’d ever spent worrying that I was carrying too much fat on my body. Watching this man “walk” around on his crutches with his friends smiling in the sunshine was one of the greatest gifts to me on that cruise.

I was just loving this community in so many ways. Such love and acceptance. I just had no idea.


And then the YMCA came on

So, there I am surrounded by folks totally naked dancing the macarena, and the only thoughts in my mind are “I can’t believe I’m dancing the macarena naked in the sunshine on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean! How does it get any better than this?”

Then, the song “Twist and Shout” came on. Well, after decades of dancing to this at weddings, I truly dislike this song. I just about left the dance floor when I looked at the folks around me just giving it all they’ve got and I thought “Alright! Let’s do this one too!” I have to tell you… naked people twisting is just about the funniest and most joyful thing you will ever see!

Just as I was about to head back to my chair, they had one more song to play… You imagine what it was — YMCA.

Well, I have to paint the scene for you. The top level of a cruise ship is basically like a huge tiered garden. In the middle, you have the pools and hot tubs. Then, around the edge is a tier of chaise-lounges. Then, one step up is another tier of chaise-lounges. This continues for about 30 tiers until you get to the top of the ship where you can walk all the way around looking down on this open bowl of people lying in the sun.

We were dancing down in the bottom of the bowl. All the tiers were filled with people — thousands of naked people on tiers lying in the sun.

And YMCA came on.

Every single person on every single tier jumped to their feet as if THIS WAS THE MOMENT THEY HAD BEEN WAITING FOR!

And we started dancing. The naked YMCA outshone the naked macarena by a million percent. All those people danced in front of their chaise lounges like we were in a Hollywood production. They marched left and right in perfect unison. We did the YMCA actions like this was literally the greatest dance ever made!

Thousands of naked people on tiers singing and dancing their hearts out! I just couldn’t believe it.

When the song ended, I climbed back up the stairs to where my husband had been watching. I lay down on my chaise-lounge, looked up at the beautiful sky and said, “You know what? I can die now. That was truly epic!!”


Would I go on a nude cruise again?

In a New York minute.

First of all, wearing a bathing suit in the sunshine just feels ridiculous now. To be able to just walk with the wind on your skin and swim with the water on your body is just the most wonderful way to be. Plus, tan lines seem kinda dumb now.

Second, when you tell 3,500 nudists that they’ve leased a Princess Cruise ship just for them and they get to spend 10 days cruising around the Caribbean totally naked, you are creating just about the happiest environment you could ever have. It is literally the most joyful experience with 3,500 of the funnest and most easy-going people you will ever meet.

Lastly, there is something so good for my soul about being in a crowd of people who are completely comfortable with who they are. In the normal world, it is so easy to get caught up in self-judgment, criticism, and worrying about what we need to improve about ourselves that we can lose sight of actually enjoying our life.

When I step into the naturist’s world, the first gift to me is allowing myself to get naked (inside and out). Then it is allowing myself to be seen by others and seeing their smile and happiness to see me.

And then the sun, water, and breeze on every part of my body… well that’s the most amazing gift ever.

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