Legendary Wreck Beach held plenty of allure to a 19-year-old Mary Jean Dunsdon, new to Vancouver from Kamloops.
Over the next two decades, Dunsdon became Watermelon, a fixture on Canada’s most famous clothing-optional beach hawking watermelons and other edibles.
But the beach she loves so much for its natural beauty and sense of community is changing, she said, and naturists like her are dwindling.
“We’re an endangered species,” said Watermelon from her licorice store on Commercial Drive. From a 50-50 split in the early 1990s, the number of “textiles,” (Wreck Beach lingo for clothed people) has increased to about 70 per cent in recent years. “We’ve become the minority,” she said.
In the 1970s, beachgoers would get to the bottom of 400-odd wooden stairs on Trail 6 and immediately shed their clothes, said Watermelon. Not many do anymore.
Judy Williams of the Wreck Beach Preservation Society pegs the ratio at about 60-40 in favour for clothed beachgoers. But since a massive beach party organized on Facebook drew about 14,000 partygoers to the beach on July 1, the presence of “textiles” is even more prominent.
Why someone would want to come to a nude beach and not strip baffles Williams. She stressed the beach is a public space and open to everyone but “there’s a code of etiquette down here.”
It’s not the clothes that rile her; it’s the gawking, cameras, and body judgment that sometimes accompany those who are clad.
Williams has heard comments first hand. She and a friend were called “Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus” by a group of snickering clothed young men, while another group ranked her a zero on the Bo Derek scale, she recalled.
“It’s appalling, this attitude toward the naked human body,” said Williams. There is no place for body shaming at the beach, she said. “Here they see old people, they see infirm people, they see them as they are, and they learn not to become judgmental.”
Williams, a staunch defender of Wreck Beach since 1969, said gawkers, including tourists disgorged from large buses who trip down the stairs to point and shoot photos, and camera-phone use are an increasing problem. The society is mulling putting no-camera signs on the trail, said Williams.
Despite being outnumbered on Wreck Beach, naturists seem to be flourishing elsewhere in Metro Vancouver.
Don Pitcairn, president of Surrey’s United Naturists, said there has been a couple of times this summer he and his wife couldn’t find a spot for their blanket on Crescent Rock Beach, a quiet, isolated stretch of beach west of Ocean Park in South Surrey.
Before the beach gained attention as a naturist’s haven in 2007, there was only a handful of nude sunbathers regularly scattered in the area.
It attracts naturists from across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley who go there instead of making the long drive to Wreck before paying for parking then trudging down the 400-plus steps — which some older folks might be loath to do, Pitcairn said. Many naturists also head to the east end of Barnston Island on the Fraser River, he added.
Reblogged this on clothes free life and commented:
I hope this can be turned around Wreck beach is a beacon for clothes free swimming and sunbathing
Thank you for reblog.
At least people are feeling same thing as I am. More new people and less respect…
The Activist said:
Nude beaches,should command the same respect from authorities as anywhere else and also any voyeurism should attract the same punishment as it would anywhere else
More & more people are coming who knows nothing about beach and those don’t respect anything.
That kind of environment can’t exist without respect… but nobody cares. All they care is facebook friends.
The Activist said:
We get the same here too, people should be allowed to be who they are without being hindered. I find a greater respect for nature and the environment comes once you take your clothes off…you feel part of it and feel less of a need for machines and technology 🙂
People comes over with fully clothed with camera and take photos… or giving us negative comments…People think they can do anything on nude beach. Soon big problem will happen..I guess.
Well… it is partly because of this website.
The Activist said:
Take photos of them clothed and post it on a ” peeping tom ” type website… The negative comments are probably the worst, its saying you’re not normal unless we’re all the same. If people didn’t have visions nothing would ever change
Too many! Groups of Asians comes down by buses…and no English skill.
Negative comments are always locals who just come for drink & smoke which is hard to do on the other beaches.
There is no more respect whole in Vancouver… it is sad and the worst part comes to Wreck Beach.
Terry J. Laing said:
too bad we can’t change the law to read nudes only, that really riles me to have bus tours WTF
Years ago, WB was not even on the map! So, only people who knew used to come around and respected each others… but not anymore…
Things are on internet and WB is getting too touristy… it is partly because of this website…