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The spa has everything that a tired skier could want.  Three types of sauna, steam room with plunge pool, pebble foot healing pool (sounds odd but amazingly effective), infra-red muscle warmer, bubbling jacuzzi, and other fancy stuff I couldn’t even name.  But I feel strangely uncomfortable and a start looking for the exit.  Perhaps it’s because this is Austria, and everyone is naked.

As I sit in the empty steam room, still firmly in my trunks, I start to ponder over our British prudence and aversion to nakedness.  Surely as a thinking man I should be able to make my own decisions on what is OK, and not be lored over by the prejudices of my English upbringing.

So is mixed nudity ok?

At some levels I feel a natural draw to the prospect of frolicking round naked with other naked people.  It has a simple erethral appeal; Adam and Eve did it, and they are stars of the bestselling book ever…  Indeed the only reason that they stopped was as a symbol of humanity’s loss of innocence.  Surely we all want to be innocent again?

But perhaps that is just it, we are not innocent anymore.  Whilst nakedness appeals on an intellectual level, if you start to rationalise it in your mind it becomes more disturbing.  Should I really be peeking at the hot naked girl in the plunge pool with the inappropriately placed tattoo?  And perhaps worse, if I had a 17 year old daughter would I want her leaping about naked in the proximity of pretty much any man I know?

Although I can picture our Editor shouting “hell yeah” in response, the answer to both these questions is surely “no”.  Whatever utopian image the Austrians like to display, mixed nudity is plain wrong.  And we can rest easy that for once our British reservedness has lead us firmly down the right path.  Still, it’s good to think it all through.

by Pete Sanderson

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