Recently, I decided to take the proverbial plunge. On a whim, while visiting the Portland area, I went to a nude beach located on the beautiful Willamette River. While I'm completely open to being 100 percent body positive, I'll admit I was a little bit anxious.
I felt a little bit apprehensive, due to the mystery of the nude beach; I simply didn't know what to expect.
After a scenic drive through the Sauvie Island area, I eventually arrived to Collin Beach with my close friend alongside me. We came prepared with all the essentials: sunscreen for our pasty complexions, copious amounts of snacks and of course, all the wine.
Upon entering, nothing stood out to me as off putting at all. After walking through a short wooded area, a clearing presented itself. The truly gorgeous area showcased a long sandy beach that extended as far as the eye could see.
People of all walks of life filled the area. There were a lot of people around, some naked some clothed. I quickly noticed that the area felt completely natural and the clothing -- or lack thereof -- didn't hit me as substantial in any way.
I was more fixated on the area and the scenery than the naked bodies of people ranging from young to elderly. In a lot of ways, the comfort of not feeling constrained by clothing was freeing and beautiful. But that doesn't mean that I didn't do my fair share of people watching.
I was curious; what are the groups of people at a nude beach like in comparison to all the other beaches I'd been to up until that point? Was I about to witness some cult-like shit go down? Would I be pressured to get naked at any point by the general public here?
Here's what I noticed from the groups of beachgoers:
The first interaction I saw taking place was on the water's edge. A group of what appeared to be early to mid-20 year olds were having an interesting competition. Logs that were vertically implanted into the sand created a small, elevated pathway. The group took turns challenging each other to see who could stand on one leg on the top of these logs for the longest. This reminded me of a competition from the show, "Survivor." I conversed with my friend about it for a minute and shifted focus.
About 100 feet or so away, I both saw and heard another group of people that were a bit more lively and appeared to be teenagers. Some were nude, some were clothed, but there seemed to be zero tension or divide between them. They had one focus: to blast and dance to electronic music. Their goal was to have a great time at the beach, and I can't fault them for that in any way (although I'm not personally a big EDM fan).
Closer by, I noticed a slightly intoxicated person who was working surprisingly adamantly on something on his laptop. I overheard him saying he was taking a quiz at the beach fully nude, which is nothing to shame. However, he was making one crucial error: his chair was planted directly on the shoreline.
As his drunken, test-taking fury ensued, he failed to noticed a boat passing by creating a. He ruined his computer when a boat went by and created a large wave.
And, off the back of the boat jumped the most memorable person on the beach who I deemed "the real naked cowboy." Sporting only sunglasses and cowboy boots, he majestically walked over to the person who he recognized had just destroyed their laptop by accident.
His phallus flew in the gentle breeze, in a way that was less like a cliched slow-mo beach cutscene, and more like running into your drunk, naked roommate raiding the refrigerator at 2 am. He was graceful in his own unique way.
Now closer to where I was sitting and visibly intoxicated, the naked cowboy was about to talk to the clearly frustrated beach test-taker. I thought to myself, “this is it, I'm about to watch two naked drunk dudes duke it out on the shore.”
But the scenario that followed was tactful, and surprising, as they talked it out in a level-headed fashion. The two made amends before anything negative happened. And this added to the overall chill environment that Collins Beach was projecting.
The real naked cowboy taught me a valuable lesson:T here's no shame in being comfortable in your skin. And even in unfortunate circumstances, like a shoreline electronics mishap, it's not worth automatically assuming that someone in a cowboy hat will always start a fight.
In summary, nude beaches are nothing to be afraid of. There was no pressure to be nude, so don't fret if you're not comfortable enough to strip down to your birthday suit on the first visit. Personally, I didn't shed all my clothing the first time I visited this type of beach, but I can't say I won't in the future.
They basically have the same exact things going on as typical beaches, aside from the obvious lack of swimwear. Everyone, whether solo or in groups, was basically just doing their own thing. They were there to enjoy the sunshine, hang out in the water and feel the sandy beach between their toes… and everywhere else.