FKK – Freikörperkultur
When I first heard of the FKK in (East) Germany I wasn’t sure what it encompassed – it sounded too official to be anything apart from bureaucracy. Maybe it means to free your body from social stigma’s of the concept of beauty or what is acceptable?
What better way to find out about something rather than seeing and experiencing it first hand. This is how it happened – I was in the (East) German city of Leipzig 2 years ago on a wonderful warm Summer day canoeing through the canals and channels which ended up on a beautiful lake called “Lauer” (and later to another one called Cospuden). The curious creature that I am – I was too busy finding out the story behind this man-made lake and engrossed in an in-depth discussion about German history that I barely noticed anything while walking on the lake shore once we got out of our boats.
Upon our arrival to a nice shady patch with few rocks we decided to have a small picnic and rest – since it was a sunny day I was covered head to toe – total opposite of the Germans (direct sun gives me a bad headache). I unpacked my blanket, kicked off my shoes and socks and lay back to take a nap when something odd caught my eye. I sat up to notice an elderly couple walking hand in hand smiling and enjoying the day – this would have be completely normal, only they were completely naked! I think I was far too shocked or thought the sun had gotten to my head to react. The dumb founded expression on my face led to a burst of laughter from my group who couldn’t contain themselves.
I was then informed by my friends that this was an FKK Freikörperkultur lake – and it was an integral part of the East German culture and that being nude had nothing to do with sexuality. I really needed time to digest this one because I couldn’t fathom this concept of people chilling reading a newspaper stark naked in broad daylight like it was a daily routine. 10,000 questions, far more talks and many many months later I have finally understood the concept of FKK and begun to accept this movement. It’s definitely more than just being naked!! The way the Germans are so comfortable in their own skin (literally) and so confident with their bodily flaws was something I’m always in awe of.
The funniest and most traumatic question I was ever asked by a German was “haven’t you seen your parents naked?” this question alone was enough to make me want to die. NO! was my answer – as if it was equivalent to me committing murder… actually it seems worse. I really would rather die. My cultural background and upbringing has always leaned towards modesty in attire and attitude. We don’t reveal ourselves not due to body shame but more out of a sense respect for our own selves and others. Hence it was a very difficult concept to grasp.
But I have noticed something everywhere I went in Germany – this acceptance of body and connection with nature – swimming in the lake or dipping in the river in the nude – even in the swimming pool or sauna. Children from a young age have seen their parents or family members in their natural way and it’s very acceptable. There is a sense of freedom that is liberating on a very different level and for that they have earned my respect.
So here’s to learning more and more about Germans and being fascinated by their ways!!