The four of us girls were sitting on the ground, waiting for a bus that would take us out of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Over the next nine hours, we would be weaving our way out of the country and ultimately out of the social constructs that influence our conception of study abroad experiences.
However, all we could think about at the time was how we were going to open the two bottles of wine sitting next to us. Feeling ambitious and excited, I remembered an old trick, and used my apartment key to work some magic. With the Argentine equivalent of Dixie cups, we proposed a toast to our girls-only trip to the beaches of Punta del Este, Uruguay.
It was here that we met Mahatma Michelle Martini, the 25-year-old Pennsylvania State University grad who lied on Good Morning America to get a free boob job, completed yoga instructor training in Peru, works at a bar equivalent to Coyote Ugly, sometimes works as DJ Miss Martini, and takes great pride in the well-hung male strippers she has dated as well as the sugar daddy financing her adventures in South America.
After having lunch and dinner with her, we learned that all she really wants, however, is to become a successful stripper. Like many a stripper you hear about, she actually really did have a heart of gold. By the time she left the next day—in something resembling a shirt and a snapback emblazoned with the phrase “WORK BITCH”—we found ourselves missing Michelle Martini and appreciating our parents, our childhood, and the values with which we were raised.
Two days later, we awoke to a cloudless blue sky and soon after, were deposited next to a sand dune. As we walked down the length of the beach, we began to see some distinctly naked bodies of various shapes, ages, and sizes. Having participated in a couple of body painting extravaganzas up on Mt. Baldy, I have always felt pretty desensitized to the sight of naked bodies, and although the sights on the beach took about a minute for me to get used to, I wondered what might be going through my friends’ heads.
Once we arrived at our spot on the beach, we all quickly stripped off all our clothes without really looking at each other. By the time we settled down onto our towels, a wonderful calm had formed over the four of us. Whatever awkwardness might have existed had diffused itself almost immediately, and being naked on the beach began to feel undoubtedly natural.
Thrilled by the day’s perfect weather and the wonderfully natural state of being we have found ourselves in, we became engaged in a thoughtful discussion about the social constructs surrounding the naked body. The world we live in requires the human body to be constantly covered up, so the body is only in its most natural state when we are bathing or engaged in sexual activity. Because of this, the naked body becomes inherently turned into a sexual object, rather than simply a body in its natural state. At Chihuahua Beach, almost everyone was completely naked, and, surprisingly, it felt normal.
One thing that we discussed was how at this beach, while wearing nothing, we felt less like sexual objects than if we had been wearing skimpy bathing suits and walking around on one of the larger and more populated beaches in Punta del
Este. When people think of nude beaches, they mostly either think of old, fat European men walking around trying to check out girls, or of some sort of free-love hippie-type arrangement. Never at any point did we feel like we were being “checked out,” not even when we approached a very attractive and very well-endowed young man to ask if he would take our picture.
There was nothing remotely sexual about the experience and, although the sight of four college-age girls naked and
frolicking on a beach might sound like it belongs in Spring Breakers, the reality of our afternoon was far from any of those visions. The four of us talked, explored the dunes, and went swimming just like any other person might do on a day at the beach. Why any of those activities even require a bathing suit in the real world is still puzzling a few weeks later.
I’ve always been a person with a deep and meaningful connection to the ocean, and so I’m not kidding when I say that our day at Chihuahua Beach was among the best days of my life. The weather was spectacular, the company was wonderful and insightful, social barriers were deconstructed, the naked body was desexualized, and no one got sunburned.
Caroline Miller SC ’15 is a media studies major and potential Spanish minor. She is from Rhode Island and therefore misses Dunkin’ Donuts more anything in the world, but has also developed a newfound passion for dulce de leche, and dreams of ways to combine the two.