Word of the Week: FKK

Sep 16, 2011

Over the course of the year, Germany.info and The Week in Germany will highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.

FKK An FKK sign in Germany Enlarge image An FKK sign in Germany (© picture-alliance/chromorange)

It's a nice summer day, you stroll along a German beach, pass a sign saying FKK - and all of the sudden people start looking differently. Somehow closer to nature. Welcome to paradise - you have just entered one of Germany's numerous nudist beaches.

FKK stands for Freikörperkultur, or Free Body Culture, perfectly capturing what it is: a culture, a mentality, a way of life. From the toddler to the nanny – people of all age groups strip off every last shred of clothing and celebrate naturalism in designated areas along beaches, ponds and parks.

FKK is more than just freeing yourself from the burden of your clothes, it means liberating yourself from social conventions. During the East German regime nudism - pardon me, naturalism - became a popular pastime. Indeed, it was an expression of freedom and one of the few popular movements not steered by the communist state. All of a sudden, to sun your buns was a form of political rebellion.

A sign for an FKK beach on the island of Usedom off of northern Germany's Baltic Sea coast. Enlarge image A sign for an FKK beach on the island of Usedom off of northern Germany's Baltic Sea coast. (© picture-alliance/Eventpress)

Today, taking it all off publicly is not driven by political motives but nevertheless still popular. Despite the obvious advantage of avoiding tan lines, the widespread tradition of FKK expresses a close bond to nature and clearly stresses: Don't be ashamed of your birthday suit.

While this mentality is pretty common among Germans, other nations do not seem to always share the same desire to present their bare skin. A Swiss canton has for example banned nude hiking after vast numbers of German FKK enthusiasts were – or at least so they may have believed – contributing to the idyllic and picturesque landescape with their naked wanderlust.

FKK is indeed an attitude towards life you need to experience yourself. Next time you pass a sign saying FKK, just release yourself from the burden of your clothes and any social conventions and - feel free.

© Germany.info

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