Swimmers asked to stop bathing naked at a beach on Norway’s Glomma River

Skinny dippingPhoto: Aaron Lee / Unsplasj
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Some local residents aren’t too happy with the skinny dipping. However, others say being naked is natural and good for self-esteem.

Bathers from all over the district and beyond come to Mellandstranda Beach to swim. The beach sits on the Glomma, Norway’s longest river, in the Sør-Odal Municipality’s village of Galterud.

But locals who live near Mellandstranda Beach were tired of naked bathers. So, they put up a sign asking swimmers to don bathing suits at the beach, as NRK reported.

“Several thought it was disgusting,” Irene Sundsby-Hansen said, according to NRK. Hansen, leader of the Galterud Welfare Association, said that members of the Association put in many hours of hard work to prepare the beach for swimming. They decided to put up the sign with the request.

Hansen told the newspaper Glåmdalen that even the youngest are asked to use nappies. However, she emphasized that the group isn’t allowed to refuse anyone to bathe naked – it’s not illegal – but asks that bathers show consideration.

“Naked bodies are not obscene”

Jan Dalchow is the director of the film Naked, where he challenges shame surrounding nudity.

The documentary filmmaker believes shaming bodies and nudity exists in Norwegian culture. “We must stop thinking naked bodies are obscene,” he told NRK.

Dalchow believes that the line between what is okay and what is not okay should be simple: “If you do something that is sexually abusive, you have crossed a line. This applies both with and without clothes.”

He said there is nothing sexual about a person sunbathing or bathing naked. “Some people think a naked body is obscene. But then it is they themselves who make the body something sexually threatening,” he noted.

He also pointed out that everyone has a body for their whole lives, and that one should have a good relationship with it. “I am convinced that unhealthy body pressure is minimized in places where people bathe naked,” he noted.

Dalchow is particularly put off by the fact that young children have also been asked to cover themselves. “It is an excessive reaction at best and an application of shame and unhealthy attitudes to the body at worst,” said Dalchow.

But Hansen says they included small children in the request, solely so that the same rules would apply to everyone. “If we see a naked child’s butt down there, we do not care; that’s not what it’s about,” she said.

Nude bathing not illegal

There is no law against nudity. Section 298 of Norway’s Penal Code states that it is a criminal offense to exhibit sexually abusive or other obscene conduct in a public place.

So, police Assistant Tom Erik Wassenaar Berntsen said nudity must be sexually motivated to be punishable. “It is about finding the balance between one’s own preference, and the practice of abusive behavior towards others,” Berntsen explained.

He said that people are welcome to bathe naked but encourages them to show consideration and know their visiting hours.

Locals suggest nearby beach

Hansen stated she has nothing against the nude bathers, but asked people to show consideration.

She pointed out that there are areas on the river nearby, where bathers can swim along. “There, you can swim naked without disturbing others,” she said.

Source: NRK / #NorwayTodayTravel

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