Women Can Now Swim Topless in Berlin’s Swimming Pools
Berlin has introduced a new rule that allows women and nonbinary people to swim topless in the city’s public pools, following a complaint of discrimination by a female swimmer. The rule, which came into effect this week, aims to end the double standard that allowed men to swim bare-chested but not women.
The change was prompted by a case in December last year, when a woman was told by a pool employee to cover her chest or leave the pool. The woman filed a complaint with the Berlin Senate Department for Sports, which oversees the city’s public pools. The department then decided to revise its pool rules to make them more gender-neutral and inclusive.
The new rule states that “all people who use the swimming pools are free to decide for themselves whether they want to wear swimwear on their upper body or not.” It also clarifies that “the wearing of swimwear on the lower body is mandatory for hygienic reasons.” The rule applies to all public pools in Berlin, both indoor and outdoor.
The rule reflects Germany’s tradition of nudity, or Freikoerperkultur (free body culture), which dates back to the late 19th century. Many Germans enjoy sunbathing, swimming and hiking naked or partially naked, especially in designated areas such as naturist beaches, campsites and parks. Germany also has many saunas and spas where nudity is expected or required.
Berlin is known for its liberal and diverse culture, which attracts many tourists and expats. The city has several nude-friendly spots, such as the Tiergarten park, the Wannsee lake and the Badeschiff floating pool. Berlin also hosts an annual Naked Bike Ride, where cyclists protest against car pollution by riding naked through the streets.
The new pool rule has been welcomed by many women and nonbinary people who feel more comfortable swimming without a top. It has also been praised by gender equality activists who see it as a step towards empowering women and nonbinary people to make their own choices about their bodies. However, some people have expressed concerns about privacy, harassment and cultural sensitivity. The pool staff have been instructed to respect the rule and intervene only if there are any conflicts or complaints.