Naturism or nudism is a cultural and political movement practising, advocating and defending social nudity in private and in public. It may also refer to a lifestyle based on personal, family and/or social nudism.
Several other terms (“social nudity”, “public nudity”, “skinny dipping”, “sunning”, and, recently, “clothes-free”) have been proposed as alternative terms for naturism, but none has found the same widespread public acceptance as the older terms “naturism” and (in much of the United States) “nudism”.
The naturist philosophy has several sources, many of which can be traced back to early 20th century health and fitness philosophies in Germany, though the concepts of returning to nature and creating equality are also cited as inspiration From Germany the idea spread to the UK, Canada, the United States and beyond where a network of clubs developed. The model ofGerman naturism is to promote naturist family and recreational sports, with the German Association for Free Body Culture (DFK) being a member of the German Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB).French naturism developed on the basis of large holiday complexes. This in turn influenced Quebec and the United States. A subsequent development was tourist naturism, where nudist resorts would be built to cater for the nudist tourist, without any local base. This concept is most noticeable in the Caribbean.
From early days, clothes-free beaches and other types of ad-hoc nudist activities have served those who wish to take part in naturist activities without belonging to any clubs. In the UK, this is termed “free-range” naturism.
Naturism can contain aspects of eroticism for some people, although many modern naturists and naturist organisations argue it need not. The lay public and the media often oversimplify this relationship
The word naturism was used for the first time in 1778 by a French-speaking Belgian, Jean Baptiste Luc Planchon (1734–1781), and was advocated as a means of improving the ‘l’hygiène de vie’ (natural style of life) and health.
According to the international definition adopted by the XIV Congress of the International Naturist Federation (Agde, France, 1974), naturism is:
“a lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterised by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.”
Sign on the beach at Cap d’Agde
The International Naturist Federation explains:
“Each country has its own kind of naturism, and even each club has its own special character, for we too, human beings, have each our own character which is reflected in our surroundings.”
The usage and definition of these terms varies geographically and historically. Though in the United States, naturism and nudism have the same meaning, in Britain there is a clear distinction. Nudism is the act of being naked, while naturism is a lifestyle which at various times embraced nature, environment, respect for others, self-respect, crafts, healthy eating, vegetarianism, teetotalism, non-smoking, yoga, physical exercise and pacifism as well as nudity.
In naturist parlance, textile or textilist is a non-naturist person, non-naturist behaviour or non-naturist facilities. e.g. the textile beach starts at the flag, they are a mixed couple – he is naturist, she is textile. Textile is the predominant term used in the UK (‘textilist’ is unknown in British naturist magazines including H&E naturist), although some naturists avoid it due to perceived negative or derogatory connotations. Textilist is said to be used interchangeably, but no dictionary definition to this effect exists, nor are there any equivalent examples of use in mainstream literature such as those for textile. Clothing optional and nude optional (US specific) describe a policy or a venue that allows or encourages nudity but tolerates the wearing of clothes. The opposite is clothing compulsory; that is, prohibiting nudity. Adjectival phrases clothes free and clothing free prescribe where naturism is permitted in an otherwise textile environment, or define the preferred state of a naturist.
The social nudity movement includes a large range of variants including “naturism”, “nudism”, “Freikörperkultur (FKK)”, the “free beach movement” as well as generalized “public lands/public nudity” advocacy. There is a large amount of shared history and common themes, issues and philosophy, but differences between these separate movements remain contentious.
Types of naturism
Naturism is practised in many ways: Marc Alain Descamps, in his study written in French, classified the types as: individual nudism, nudism within family, nudism in the wild, social nudism. To that we can add the militant naturist, campaigning or extreme naturists.
Personal and family nudism
Nudism is often practiced in a person’s home or garden, either alone or with members of the family.
There are differences of opinion as to whether, and if so to what extent, parents should appear naked in front of their children. Gordon and Schroeder report that parental nudity varies considerably from family to family. They say that “there is nothing inherently wrong with bathing with children or otherwise appearing naked in front of them”, noting that doing so may provide an opportunity for parents to provide important information. They note that by ages 5 to 6 children begin to develop a sense of modesty, and recommend to parents who wish to be sensitive to their children’s wishes that they limit such activities from that age onwards.
Bonner recommends against nudity in the home if children exhibit sexual play of a type that is considered problematic.
A United States study by Alfred Kinsey found that 75% of the participants stated that there was never nudity in the home when they were growing up, 5% of the participants said that there was “seldom” nudity in the home, 3% said “often”, and 17% said that it was “usual”. The study found that there was no significant difference between what was reported by men and by women with respect to frequency of nudity in the home
In a 1995 review of the literature, Paul Okami concluded that there was no reliable evidence linking exposure to parental nudity to any negative effect. Three years later, his team finished an 18-year longitudinal study that showed that, if anything, such exposure was associated with slight beneficial effects, particularly for boys.
Social nudism is nudism in a social context, either at one’s home with friends or with acquaintances at a nudist event or facility, such as a naturist club, community center, resort, or other facility. (The terms are loosely defined and there are some regional differences.) At naturist events or venues clothing is usually optional, except by swimming pools or sunbathing lawns where complete nudity is expected, weather permitting. This rule is sometimes a source of controversy among some naturists. Staff at a naturist facility are sometimes required to be clothed due to health and safety regulations.
Facilities for naturists are classified in various ways. A landed or members’ naturist club is one that owns its own facilities, while non-landed (or travel) clubs meet at various locations, such as private residences, swimming pools, hot springs, landed clubs and resorts, and rented facilities. Landed clubs can be run by members on democratic lines or by one or more owners who make the rules. In either case, they can determine membership criteria and the obligations of members. This usually involves sharing work necessary to maintain or develop the site
Some clubs have stricter entrance requirements than some traditional ‘country clubs’, including the requirement to supply references, a sponsoring member, a trial membership, committee approval and/or, criminal background checks. UK clubs are now required to have child-protection policies in place, and designated child-protection officers. Many clubs promote frequent social activities.
The international naturist organizations were mainly composed of representatives of landed clubs. “Nudist colony” is no longer a favored term, but it is used by naturists as a term of derision for landed clubs that have rigid non inclusive membership criteria, and in meta-data on naturist websites.
A holiday center is a facility that specializes in providing apartments, chalets and camping pitches for visiting holidaymakers. The center is run commercially, and visitors are not members and have no say in the management. Most holiday centers expect visitors to hold an INF card, that is be a member of their national organization, but some have relaxed this restriction, relying on the carrying of a trade card. Holiday centers can be quite small, just a couple of hectares or large occupying over 300 hectares. In a large holiday center there will be swimming pools, sports pitches, an entertainment program, kids’ clubs, restaurants and supermarkets. Some holiday centers allow regular visitors to purchase their own chalets, and generations of the same families will visit each year Holiday centers are more tolerant of clothing than members-only clubs; total nudity is usually compuslory in the swimming pools and may be expected on the beaches, while on the football pitches, or in the restaurants in the evening, it is rare.
A naturist resort is, to a European, an essentially urban development where naturism is the norm. Cap d’Agde in France, naturist village Charco del Palo on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, and Vera Playa in Spain are examples. Here there are apartment blocks, with privately-owned and rented apartments. For some residents this is their year-round home. One finds all the usual facilities of a small town. In the US usage, a naturist resort can mean a holiday centre.
Freikörperkultur (FKK) literally translated as free body culture is the name for the general movement in Germany. The abbreviation is widely recognised all over Europe and often found on informal signs indicating the direction to a remote naturist beach
Clothing is optional at nude beaches (or free beaches). Some beaches have been clothes free beyond living memory, and their status has been formalised by becoming official nude beaches, while others, though not official, have become unofficial nude beaches through toleration by local authorities. In some European countries, such as Denmark, all beaches are clothing optional, while in others like Germany there are naturist sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., in Munich and Berlin Beaches in some holiday destinations, such as Crete, are also by default clothing-optional, except perhaps central urban beaches But in Barcelona, naturists can enjoy two beaches even at the central location
A feature of bathing on a nude beach is the anonymity it offers, where membership of a club is not required with detailed application processes, nor pre-booking of visits.
Though free beaches developed separately from national naturist bodies, these bodies are taking an interest and helping to protect them legally, and through the publication of guidelines of acceptable behaviour. In North America, the Free Beach Movement was the name of a group that was opposed to the direction of the official nudist organisation, the American Association for Nude Recreation, and set up the rival body The Naturist Society.
Other nudist activities
Various people engage in nude recreational activities, either as individuals or in groups. These activities encompass practically all kinds of sports and outdoor pastime, from naked sky-diving to hiking and dancing . One of the favorite is of course nude swimming (sometimes called skinny dipping) in a river, lake, sea, swimming hole or other body of water; naked snorkeling[ and surfing nude canoeing or kayaking (sometimes called canuding) nude hiking (sometimes called free hiking or naked rambling) in the remote countryside , for example in the mountain forest of Tenerife or cycle riding (free riding) in remote areas and in organised groups through cities; Team sports, especially volleyball, are also very popular, and there are even international naked rugby tournaments
World Naked Bike Ride attracts attention to the problems caused by pollution and promotes a healthy alternative to using cars; naked body is used as a symbol of our vulnerability to pollution, as well as vulnerability of bikers against traffic in big cities.
Vincent Bethell conducted The Freedom to be Yourself campaign.
Day Without Bathing Suits. It began in Spain in 2007. From 2009 is extending all over the world.
Steve Gough, UK walker who has walked from Lands End to John O'Groats naked.
Spencer Tunick mass nude photography.
Mark Storey is a member of the Naturist Action Committee, directed by Bob Morton, a sister organisation to the US The Naturist Society. He co-founded the Body Freedom Collaborative in Seattle with Daniel Johnson, Washington state in the US, whose goal is to bring attention for the need for legal clothing-optional beaches through "guerilla pranksterism", among other approaches.
Anarcho-naturism is a tendency within the anarchist movement that advocates naturism
The Sex Party of British Columbia (Canada) promotes normalization of all parts of the human body and destigmatizing human sexual organs. It would pass legislation requiring all public parks and beaches larger than one hectare to designate areas reserved for nudists.
The former Dutch party Naastenliefde, Vrijheid en Diversiteit would have passed legislation to make public nudity legal everywhere, provided that a towel is used when sitting on a public bench.
Starkers! and the emergence of clubbing culture and naturism developed in London.
The short-lived Naturist Lifestyle Party in New South Wales, Australia aimed "to bring naturism fully into the public eye, with view to getting an equitable allocation of public resources to those who support the naturist lifestyle."
Gerald Ganglbauer convened Free Beach Action NSW, a lobby group for naturism in New South Wales
Nude protests have a long history: Doukhobor, Women's Institute Calendar.
Naturism had many different philosophical sources and means many things to different people. There is no one definition. In 1974, the INF defined naturism as:
Naturism is a lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterised by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment
At one end of the spectrum are the nudists who just enjoy a nude life style, and at the other are the naturists, who have deeply held beliefs and see communal nudity as just one of many important principles.
Gymnosophy and religious nakedness
In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great encountered, in India, wandering groups of naked holy men whom he dubbed the naked philosophers. (Gr gymnos: naked; sophist: knowledge). The philosopher Onesicritus investigated their beliefs and lifestyle. Pyrrho the Sceptic was impressed and incorporated nudity into his philosophy. The Gymnosophists were Hindus, but Jain and Ajivikamonks practiced nudity as a statement that they had given up all worldly goods. Nudity was not a new concept to the Greeks as the Olympic Games (founded in 776 BC) were exclusively male and nude events. Gymnastics and gymnasium share the same root word (Gr gymnos).
Historically, the Adamites, a Gnostic sect, practiced religious nudism. Another religious sect, the Doukhobors, migrated from Russia to western Canada. They practice or practiced occasional nudity, such as while working in the farm fields. Members of one of the three subdivisions of Canadian Doukhobors, the small radical Sons of Freedom group, went so far in the 1900s as to publicly strip in mass public demonstrations to protest against government policies which were meant to assimilate them.Today, Christian naturism contains various members associated with most denominations. Although beliefs vary, a common theme is that much of Christianity has misinterpreted the events regarding the Garden of Eden, and God was displeased with Adam and Eve for covering their bodies with fig leaves.
The first English naturists adopted the name Gymnosophy as a thinly disguised euphemism for their pastime. The English Gymnosophical Society was formed in 1922 and became the New Gymnosophy Society in 1926; they purchased land at 'Bricketts Wood' to become Britain's first nudist colony. One of the first members was Gerald Gardner, who in 1945 established the 'Five Acres Club' nearby, ostensibly as a nudist club, but as a front for Wiccans, as witchcraft was illegal in England until 1951.
The Digambar, one of the two main divisions of the Jain religion of India, remain skyclad, or naked, though generally it is practiced by males. Digambar means 'clothed with the sky'. Wiccans have adopted this wording and some practice their rituals skyclad.
Individuals have formed nudist groups for a variety of specific purposes. It is generally agreed by naturist organisations that eroticism and blatant sexuality have no place in naturism and are, in fact, antithetical to its ideals, as noted above.
Ecological or environmental — rapport with the natural world.
Health — bathing in the sun, fresh air and water (balneotherapy, thalassotherapy, heliotherapy).
Diet — moderation with alcohol, meat, tobacco, drugs; seeking out health foods and adopting healthy eating to prevent obesity. This can extend to teetotalism and Vegetarian or Vegan eating habits. The latter two also interface with having respect for the environment.
Agriculture — avoiding unnecessary fertilizers and genetically modified organisms. Against factory farming
Medicine — should be natural if not entirely homeopathic
Psychotherapy — as a way of effecting personal changes
Rapport with other humans — equality and respect. An anti-war, pro-world government stance
Pedagogy — children should be respected as equals instead of being patronised
Spirituality — man is no more than an animal, and nudity has a place in religion.
Dress — nudism, as clothes are unnecessary, unhealthy and build social barriers.
Sports — to develop a healthy body.
Arts — should be to develop individual talents, not as a means of financial exploitation
Tourism — to understand other peoples' culture, concentrating on camping to remain close to the earth.
Liberty — no one has the right to tell others or their children that they must wear clothes.
Pollution — less clothing to manufacture and maintain means lower carbon footprint.
Naturism and the Romantics
Walt Whitman American writer, A Sun-bathed Nakedness:
Sign at swimming pool depicting, among other requirements, that no clothing is to be worn.
Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me... Nature was naked, and I was also... Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! - ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.
Henry David Thoreau, In wildness is the preservation of the world., Walking:
We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense. It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other. To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough.
Naturism was part of a literary movement in the late 1800s (see the writings of André Gide) which also influenced the art movements of the time specifically Henri Matisse and other Fauve painters. This movement was based on the French concept of joie de vivre, the idea of revelling freely in physical sensations and direct experiences and a spontaneous approach to life Later this movement became called Naturalism.
Naturism for health
Sunlight has been shown to be beneficial in some skin conditions and enables the body to make vitamin D, but with the increased awareness of skin cancer, wearing of sunscreen is now part of the culture.
Naturism and equality
Many people say that being nude in groups makes them feel more accepted for their entire being — physical, intellectual and emotional. They say that they tend to be more accepted, in spite of differences in age, body shape, fitness, and health. Without clothing, one's social rank is generally obscured. They report feeling more united with humanity, with less regard to a person's wealth, position, nationality, race, and sex.
History of social nudity
Nudity in social contexts has been practised in various forms by many cultures at all time periods In Western society nowadays, social nudity is most frequently encountered in the contexts of bathing, swimming and in saunas, whether in single-sex groups, within the family or with mixed-sex friends, but throughout history and in many tropical cultures till now, nudity is a norm at many sports events and competitions
It is difficult to nominate exactly when naturism started as a movement. In 1903 Paul Zimmermann opened the first club, Freilichtpark, near Hamburg. By 1951, the national federations united to form the International Naturist Federation or INF. Some naturists preferred not to join clubs, and after 1945, pressure was put to designate beaches for naturist use. The two groups did not cooperate until 2000.
From the middle of the 20th century, with changing leisure patterns, commercial organisations began opening holiday resorts to attract naturists who expected the same - or better - standards of comfort and amenity offered to non-naturists. More recently, naturist holiday options have expanded to include cruises.
The spread of philosophy and the rise of formal communities
The earliest known naturist club in the "western" sense of the word was established in British India in 1891. It was founded by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, a widower, who was a District and Sessions Judge for the Bombay Civil Service at Thana. Evidence for its existence is only known by a few letters he sent to friends, and the club which had three members, reportedly closed in 1892
In the early 1900s, a series of philosophical papers was published in Germany. Dr. Heinrich Pudor, under the pseudonym Heinrich Scham, wrote a book titled Nacktkultur, which discussed the benefits of nudity in co-education and advocated participating in sports while being free of cumbersome clothing. Richard Ungewitter (Nacktheit, 1906, Nackt, 1908, etc.) proposed that combining physical fitness, sunlight, and fresh air bathing, and then adding the nudist philosophy, contributed to mental and psychological fitness, good health, and an improved moral-life view
The wide publication of those papers and others, contributed to an explosive worldwide growth of nudism, in which nudists participated in various social, recreational, and physical fitness activities in the nude. The first known organized club for nudists, Freilichtpark (Free-Light Park), was opened near Hamburg in 1903 by Paul Zimmerman.
German naturism was part of the Lebensreform movement and the Wandervogel youth movement of 1896, from Steglitz, Berlin which promoted ideas of fitness and vigour. At the same time doctors of the Natural Healing Movement were using heliotherapy, treating diseases such as TB, rheumatism and scrofula with exposure to sunlight.
The Nacktkultur refers to a network of over 200 private clubs in Germany which promote nudism as a way of connect the individual to nature. It was coined in 1902 by Heinrich Pudor and published as a 3 volume treatise in 1906 connecting nudism, vegetarianism and social reform. However, its roots might go back as far as the 1870s. Its major promoters were Adolf Koch and Hans Suren. Germany published the first journal of nudism between 1902 and 1932.
The movement went on to gain prominence in the 1920s, portrayed as both health giving but also for its Utopian ideals. It became politicised by radical socialists who believed it would lead to a breaking down of society and classlessness. It became associated with pacificism. In 1926, Adolf Koch established a school of nudism encouraging a mixing of the sexes, open air exercises, as part of a programme of "sexual hygiene". In 1929, the Berlin school hosted the first International Congress on Nudity.
During the Nazi Gleichschaltung period after Adolf Hitler came to power, nudism both benefited from official recognition and sponsorship for its health benefits, and was persecuted as officials argued over the concept of Nacktkultur. In March 1933, Prussian Minister of the Interior Hermann Göring passed laws limiting mixed sex nudism, as a reaction to the increasing immorality of the Weimar state. In January 1934, Reichmaster of the Interior Wilhelm Frick passed edicts restricting nudism amongst fears of it being a breeding ground for Marxists and homosexuals
The ban lasted one month. Within a year nudism was being practised with full state support again. However, prohibition did not mean the end of nudism and supporters including even SS leaders. The rules were eventually softened in July 1942. Nevertheless, all naturism clubs had to register with Kraft durch Freude, which meant excluding Jews and Communists. Also, they had to keep all activities well out in the countryside so there would be virtually no chance of being seen by others.
After the war, East Germans were free to practice nudism, chiefly at beaches rather than clubs (private organizations being regarded as potentially subversive by the government). It quickly rebounded in the west also, and today, united Germany has many clubs, parks and beaches for nudism Since German reunification, however, nudity is said to have become rare at some locations in the former eastern zone. Vacationing in Mediterranean France at the large Cap d'Agde resort also became popular for Germans when it opened in the late 1960s, and Germans are typically the most commonly-seen foreigners at nude beaches all around Europe.
Heinrich Pudor wrote on methods to improve social hygiene in his book Nackende Menchen und Jauchzen der Zukunft (Naked people and the future of Mankind) and then Nacktkultur (Nude Culture). It prescribes an austere lifestyle and nudity.
Paul Zimmermann, opened the Freilicht Park in Lübeck which was open to those who subscribed to Nacktkultur principles.
Richard Ungewitter wrote Die Nacktheit (Nakedness) which sold 90,000 copies, prescribed a similar Utopian lifestyle, where everyone would be nude, eat only vegetables and abstain from alcohol and tobacco. In his Utopia, everyone was to be Germanic with blue eyes and blonde hair
Adolf Koch, a left wing primary school teacher, sought to use social nudity to free the people from 'authority fixated conditioning which held proletarians in deference of their masters: parental authority, paternalism of the church, the mass media and organs of law and order. He used Organic-Rhythmic exercises in Berlin schools in the 1920s. In 1932 there were about 100,000 Germans involved with Naturism, of which 70,000 were in Koch's Körperschülen schools.
Hans Surén taught nude gymnastics to soldiers for five years, and on being forced to leave the army, he wrote in 1924, Mensch und die Sonne (Men and the Sun) which ran to 61 reprints. Later, in 1936, Surén proposed physical exercise and naturism as a means of creating a pure German race and of beauty. In the early 1940s he was out of favour and arrested. By 1945, he had turned full circle and was writing religious texts. Though never a member of any FKK club he was awarded honorary membership of the DFK in 1952.
Nudists became a large element in German Left Wing Politics. The Proletarische Freikörperkulturbewegung subsection of the Workers Sports Organisation had 60000 members
nudism Video beach-spy-eye-video_03
From 1857 Dr. Duhamel spoke of the importance of heliotherapy, and worked with children suffering from tuberculosis on the beach at Berck. In 1903 S. Gay created a naturist community at Bois-Fourgon. In 1907, supported by his superiors, Abbé Legrée encouraged the students at his catholic college to bathe nude on the rocky beaches near Marseille. A report on German naturism was published in la Revue des deux mondes.
Marcel Kienné de Mongeot, who came from a noble family and who was an aviator in the Great War, is credited with starting naturism in France in 1920. By then he was a journalist who wrote a defense of the dancer, Malkowski, in the journal Vouloir. His family had suffered from tuberculosis, and he saw naturism as a cure and a continuation of the traditions of the ancient Greeks. In 1926, he started the magazine Vivre intégralement (later called Vivre) and the first French naturist club, Sparta Club at Garambouville, near Evreux. Others quickly followed as did local opposition. His victory in court established that nudism was legal on private property that was fenced and screened
Drs. André and Gaston Durville opened a naturist health centre, edited the La vie sage (1924) and bought a 70 hectare site on the Île du Levant on which they established the Héliopolis. The village was open to the public. Dr François Fougerat de David de Lastours, who was gassed in the Great War and was saved by exposure to the sun, in 1925 wrote a thesis on heliotherapy and in that year opened the Club gymnique de France. Jacque de Marquette wrote on naturism and vegetarianism. In 1936, government minister Léo Lagrange recognised the naturist movement
Albert and Christine Lecocq were active members of many of these clubs, but after disagreements left and in 1944 founded their own travel club Club du Soleil. It was popular and had members in 84 cities, becoming the worlds largest naturist club. In 1948 they founded the FFN. In 1949 they started a magazine, Vie au Soleil and in 1950 they opened the CHM-Montalivet at Montalivet, the worlds first naturist holiday centre. In 1951 they assisted in the formation of the INF.
The Quartier Naturiste at Agde opened offering a different form of social nudity. In 1975, Euronat, the largest holiday centre (335ha) opened 10 km north of Montalivet which was running at capacity. In 1983 the FFN was accepted as an official tourist and youth movement. SOCNAT provided the management and financial stability to the movement and runs 5 centres in France and one in Spain. Holiday centres started to form cooperative marketing groups and aim for 5 star status. Publicity material was of a quality indistinguishable from textile holiday companies.
In this benign climate, Randonue, an unauthorised form of naturisme sauvage has become popular, and areas traditionally known for discreet sunbathing have been revisited. Naturist is accepted and can even be practised on many popular textilist beaches.
As of 2007, France has 150 members clubs offering holiday accommodation, 50 holiday centres, official naturist beaches, unofficial beaches and many homes where naturist swimming and sunbathing is normal. Naturism employs more than 3000 people, and is estimated to be worth 250 million Euro to the French economy. France is represented on the INF by the FFN.
First reported naturist society was established in 1897 in Grudziądz. In pre-war and post-war Poland, naturism was practised in closed and secluded areas. Reported places for naturism were Zaleszczyki (in today’s Ukraine) and Otwock. Under the communism regime, Poland’s naturism became unofficial and was practiced mostly by the artistic boheme near Krynica Morska, Międzyzdroje and Dębki.
In the early 1980s naturism became popular mostly due to increased interest in media. As the pop song “Chałupy Welcome To” (about the naturist beach in Chałupy, featuring beach nudity in the clip) became the 1985 summer hit in Poland, the nude seaside locations like Chałupy or Rowy became known to an average Polish sunbather. Polish Naturist Society was formed and after the number of lawsuits, naturism became tolerated in selected “unofficial” beaches and distant spots.
In today’s Poland naturism is practiced in number of the seaside and inland beaches. The most of Polish beaches are actually clothes-optional rather than naturist. Among the most popular locations are Międzydroje-Lubiewo, Grzybowo,Rowy, Dębki, Gdańsk-Stogi and Piaski. The most popular inland locations include Warsaw (Wał Miedzeszyński), Kazimierz Dolny and Kryspinów near Kraków. In the winter season, naturism is practiced by organized groups in Warsaw andTri-City. Public naturist events are held bi-monthly in Poznań-Koziegłowy and Łódź waterpark.
A Swiss doctor called Arnold Rickli opened a light bathing clinic in the Austro-Hungarian town of Veldes (now Bled, Slovenia) in 1853.
Werner Zimmermann, a Swiss, was promoting Progressive education as far as to encouraging naked Physical education against body guilt: He sought to eliminate body guilt and encourage openness and end the repression of the human spirit,which he saw as the cause of sexual deviation. His second interest was Psychoanalysis but his main work was to promote Freiwirtschaft. During his second journey to the US in 1923, he tried to convince Edsel Ford about the theory and visited the Doukhobor in 1929. More journeys led him to India and he is said to have met Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. In Switzerland he participated in a cooperative that was aiming for debt relief for their inhabitants in 1932. In 1934 he was co-founder of WIR Bank as an alternative to banks that loan money only against monetary interest.
In the United Kingdom, the first nudist club was established in Wickford, Essex in 1924. According to Michael Farrar, writing for British Naturism the club adopted the name “Moonella Group” from the name of the owner of the ground, Moonella, and called its site The Camp. Moonella, who was still living in 1965 but whose identity remains to be discovered, had inherited a house with land in 1923 and made it available to certain members of the New Gymnosophy Society. This society had been founded a few years before by H.C. Booth, M.H. Sorensen and Rex Wellbye under the name of the English Gymnosophical Society. It met for discussions at the Minerva Cafe at 144 High Holborn in London, the headquarters of the Women’s Freedom League. Those who were permitted to join the Moonella Group were carefully selected, and the club was run by an “aristocracy” of the original members, all of whom had “club names” to preserve their anonymity. The club closed in 1926 because of building on adjacent land.
By 1943 there were a number of these so-called “sun clubs” and together they formed the British Sunbathers Association or BSBA. In 1954 a group of clubs unhappy with the way the BSBA was being run split off to form the Federation of British Sun Clubs or FBSC. These two organisations rivalled each other for a while before eventually coming together again in 1964 as the Central Council for British Naturism or CCBN. This organisation structure has remained much the same but it is now called British Naturism which is often abbreviated to BN. BN is currently converting to acompany limited by guarantee.
In 1961, the BSBA Annual Conference agreed that the term nudist was inappropriate and should be discarded in favour of naturist.
The first official naturist beach was opened at Fairlight Glen in Covehurst Bay near Hastings in 1978 (not to be confused with Fairlight Cove, which is 2 km to the east) followed later by the beaches atBrighton and Fraisthorpe. Bridlington opened in April 1980.
Katherine and Herman Shoshinki arrived in the United States in 1923 from Germany. They were familiar with nudism from Germany from 1918-1923. In the US they saw an advertisement in a German newspaper by Kurt Barthel soliciting German residents to assist in the formation of nudist groups. Kurt Barthel founded the American League for Physical Culture in 1929 and in the same year organized the first nudist event in the woods just outside of New York City. The Shoshinkis joined the League of Physical Culture, which leased farms in Westchester County in summers and gymnasiums and pools in New York in the winter. In about 1930, the Shoshinkis organized the American Gymnosophical Association. Due to the anti-nudity laws in New York, nudist facilities were established in nearby New Jersey. Barthel founded America’s first official nudist camp, Sky Farm in New Jersey, in May, 1932. In 1932, AGA established the Rock Lodge Club as a nudist facility in Stockholm, New Jersey in the New Jersey Highlands, about 40 miles (64 km) from Manhattan, New York. Membership of AGA soon grew to over 300. The AGA had an office in Manhattan and by 1933 had leased an 11-acre (45,000 m2) camp in the foothills of the Catskills and accepted another farm of 60 acres (240,000 m2) nearer the city In 1942, the AGA moved from Rock Lodge to Newfoundland, New Jersey, but Rock Lodge continues to this day as a nudist facility.
In 1931, Ilsley Boone, a former New Jersey Dutch Reformed minister, formed the Christian naturism movement. Initially, Boone was vice president of the American League for Physical Culture but by October 1931 became president. In 1939, Boone renamed the club the American Sunbathing Association (ASA). Naturism began expanding nationwide. To create a family atmosphere at nudism venues, Boone insisted that alcohol be prohibited at all member clubs. This was not rescinded until 1970, two years after Boone’s death.
Elsewhere in the United States, a 1935 advertisement claims Sea Island Sanctuary, South Carolina, was the “largest and oldest” resort where nudism could be practiced year-round. Nudism first began appearing on the west coast of the United States and Canada about 1933. In that year, the first nudist club west of the Mississippi was Squaw Mountain Ranch in Estacada, Oregon and is still operating today. In Canada, the Van Tan Club, formed in 1939 and continues today in North Vancouver, BC. Kaniksu Ranch, about 45 miles (70 km) north of Spokane, Washington, opened the same year and is still in operation.
According to the Federation of Canadian Naturists history and the Lupin Naturist Club history, Boone was toppled in 1951 by members dissatisfied with his autocratic style. This, together with Boone’s desire to open a new club closer to NYC than others had wanted, led him to form the National Nudist Council. After Boone’s passing in the 1960s, the ASA became more secular, along with American society in general.
In 1980 The Naturist Society (TNS) was founded by Lee Baxandall as a successor to the Free Beach Movement. The emphasis of TNS is on nudity on public lands rather than on private premises, though it also sponsors several annual gatherings held at private resorts. Many naturists take the line that as taxpayers, they have a right to use a portion of public lands the same as many other recreational groups do, from hikers to rockhounds.
In 1995, the ASA was renamed as the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). The AANR represents approximately 100 resorts and 150 social (non landed) clubs, and was formerly the US representative on the INF. The AANR currently has its headquarters in Kissimmee, Florida.
AANR consists of the seven regions: AANR-East, AANR-Florida, AANR-Midwest, AANR-Northwest, AANR-Southwest, AANR-West and AANR-Western Canada.
With the beginning of the modern internet in the mid-1990s, Christian Naturism became much more organized in the U.S. than ever before. Annual Christian Nudist Convocations began early in the decade of the 2000s.
In 2009, a campaign to promote Nudism in the United States occurred with an effort by AANR to record the largest simultaneous Skinny Dip at several U.S. Clubs and beaches, coming on July 11 of the year. Some states and jurisdictions reported the first mainstream nudist events of their kind; one of the largest Cities with no AANR nudist club until very recently, Baltimore City, Maryland saw such a mass nudist effort successfully organized by Maryland Area Naturist Association, better known as “MARNA”
Currently, only two nudist or naturist magazines are still published in the United States — NUDE & NATURAL, more commonly known as N magazine from The Naturist Society, and Naturally magazine from Internaturally. Both are published quarterly espousing the virtues of nude living and recreation. N magazine is more activist oriented, while Naturally focuses on travel opportunities and individual nudist experiences. There is also a small newspaper, “The Bulletin” printed by AANR monthly.
In Canada, individuals around the country became interested in nudism, skinny-dipping, and physical culture in the early part of the 20th century. After 1940 they had their own Canadian magazine, Sunbathing & Health, which occasionally carried local news. Canadians had scattered groups in several cities during the 1930s and 1940s, and some of these groups attracted enough interest to form clubs on private land. The most significant clubs were the Van Tan Club and, in Ontario, the Sun Air Club.
Canadians who served in the military during the Second World War met like-minded souls from across the country, and often visited clubs while in Europe. They were a ready pool of recruits for post-war organizers. A few years later, the wave of post-war immigration brought many Europeans with their own extensive experience, and they not only swelled the ranks of membership, but often formed their own clubs, helping to expand nudism from coast to coast.
Most of those clubs united in the Canadian Sunbathing Association, which affiliated with the American Sunbathing Association in 1954. Several disagreements between eastern and western members of the CSA resulted in the breakup of CSA into the Western Canadian Sunbathing Association (WCSA) and the Eastern Canadian Sunbathing Association (ECSA) in 1960. The ECSA endured much in-fighting over the next decade and a half, leading to its official demise in 1978. The WCSA continues today as the American Association for Nude Recreation – Western Canadian Region (www.aanr-wc.com), a region of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) which itself was formerly known as the ASA.
In 1977 the Fédération québécoise de naturisme (FQN) was founded in Quebec, by Michel Vaïs, who had experienced European naturism at Montalivet. In 1985 the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) was formed with the support of the FQN. In 1988 the FQN and FCN formed the FQN-FCN Union as the official Canadian representative in the International Naturist Federation (INF)
Croatia has been an attractive naturist destination for five decades. Today there are more than 30 official naturist campsites, tourist villages, hotels, apartments, beaches and numerous more unofficial naturist bathing places. Naturism is well accepted all along Croatian Adriatic coast. There are official naturist beaches which are sometimes within all naturist resorts and campings and sometimes there are special areas in textile resorts assigned for naturists. Often entrance is charged. Then there are so called free beaches which are known to be naturist for many years, but not officially. Those places are mostly clothing optional. And finally there are wild beaches where one can freely choose to be bare or to keep swimming suit on. So one day naturists prevail, and the other textiles. The point is you can choose by yourself and don’t have to worry about any harassment. Naturist beaches are marked with signs saying “FKK” for “Freikorperkultur,” German for Free Body Culture. Unofficial beaches are sometimes called free beaches. Croatia’s naturist facilities often focus on different visitor categories, including families, adults, gays, and those where everyone is welcome. Beaches also often are sectioned into these categories. Maybe it is not unimportant to point out that naturist beaches (official or not) aren’t in remote hard to find areas. Most of them are usually just a walk away distance from centers of towns, villages or resorts. Many of the regular beaches have also a naturist section, usually at the end of the beach. Croatia has long been popular for bare-all beach holidays, especially with German and Dutch nudists. Koversada, an island linked by bridge to the Istrian mainland, is the oldest among 30 official naturist resorts. All are indicated by “FKK” signs (from the German Freikorperkultur), but there are also scores of unofficial strips.
Many people get their first exposure to naturism through an informal approach, such as visiting a clothing optional beach, at a friend’s place in the woods, or a party on the shore or skinny dipping.
Naturism and sports
Naturism encourages sports and a healthy life style, and naturist clubs at times organize local and international sport competitions. For example, a nude race takes place every year in the semi-naturist beach of Barinatxe, in the town of Sopelana, near Bilbao, in northern Spain. And there are also regular naked surfing competitions and even rugby tournaments
From Woodstock to Edinburgh, and Nambassa in the southern hemisphere communal nudity is commonly recorded at music and counterculture festivals.
The series of 1970s Nambassa hippie festivals held in New Zealand is a further example of non sexualized naturism. Of the 75,000 patrons who attended the 1979 Nambassa 3 day countercultureFestival an estimated 35% of festival attendance spontaneously chose to remove their clothing, preferring complete or part nudity.
International Nude Day
Held on July 14, International Nude Day (also known as National Nude Day) was instigated by sportsman and television presenter Marc Ellis in New Zealand as a part of Sports Cafe, a TV show he hosted.
World Day of Naturism
The International Naturist Federation identifies the first Sunday of June as World Day of Naturism.
World Naked Gardening Day
People across the globe are encouraged, on World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD) held in May, to tend their portion of the world’s garden clothed as nature intended.
World Naked Bike Ride
The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international clothing-optional bike ride in which participants plan, meet and ride together en masse on human-powered transport (the vast majority on bicycles, but some on skateboards and inline skates), to “deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world.
The Solstice Cyclists (also known as The Painted [Naked] Cyclists of the Solstice Parade, or The Painted Cyclists) is an artistic, non-political, clothing-optional bike ride celebrating the Summer Solstice. It is the unofficial start of the Summer Solstice Parade & Pageant, an event produced by the Fremont Arts Council in the Fremont district of Seattle.
See also: Body Freedom Collaborative
In 1999 the Federation of Canadian Naturists commissioned a national survey on Canadian attitudes towards nudity which found that 8.9% of Canadian have or would visit a naturist facility. A further 11.6% have or would go skinny dipping in mixed company; that 39% go naked in their own homes; that naturists tend to have above average incomes; that urban dwellers are more likely to be naturist than country dwellers; and that the under 25s are the most likely to be naturists.
In 2005 the British CCBN commissioned a survey of members, which found that, among British people:
How we (British people) discovered naturism:
Beach abroad 29%
Beach in UK 20%
The Web 3%
Ever been member of a club?
Do you use UK naturist beaches?
If you use a naturist holiday facility abroad:
Own Tent 12.7%
Hire Caravan 10%
Own Caravan 8.7%
Bed and Breakfast 6.6%
Motor home 4.2%
Own accommodation 3.1%
Hire Tent 2.4%
Issues in social nudity
Naturism addresses, challenges and explores a myriad of sometimes taboo subjects: stereotypes and mores relating to the nude appearance of the human body, mixed sex nudity, personal space, human sexuality, gymnophobia, modesty, physical attractiveness, vanity, objectification, exploitation and consent. It can thus be controversial.
Problems for the naturist community
Any social group is said to go through four phases: forming, storming, norming, performing, wrote Bruce Tuckman in 1965. In this context one can understand some of the current pressures on various aspects of naturism:
Naturist club isolation: established clubs excluding new members and rejecting new ideas
A family movement in a time of social change: a change in needs and expectations, away from one of a permanent commitment towards one of change and choice.
Multi-gen preferences: each generation is a specific social group which needs to have its own norms that are consistent with common rules.
Clubs vs. holiday centres: organizations with different roots find it difficult to establish common rules. The contention between those espousing a year round commitment to an ideal, and those who see it as summer-only recreation. Club naturism is declining, while the number of people that assume naturist facilities will be available at any holiday resort is rising. The number of users of free beaches may exceed the number of people who wish to join a club.
Paid staff and volunteers: many clubs were established as cooperatives, but the values change when a few members put in the capital or work needed. This became more difficult when some members were paid to act as site managers.
Infiltration by other groups: for many years clubs had strict “No singles” policies to maintain the family nature of the club. Many other social groups practice non-family nudism, whether it be social singles, gay naturists or swingers.
Exhibitionists and voyeurs: as unwelcome in a naturist community as in a clothed community.
Naturist media: family naturist groups with concerns of associations with the publishers of Naturist/ Nudist publications and DVDs.
Teen nudist summer camps
Non-conformist naturists: primarily outside the club scene, though they also visit clubs occasionally.
Naturist and nudist magazines
Magazines published by an “official” national organisation, such as BN (CCBN), Going Natural/Au naturel (FCN/FQN), Nude & Natural Magazine TNS.
Magazines that are published for naturists, such as Naturally.
Independent magazines, such as H&E naturist, which print a percentage of pictures of young female professional models, to which a vocal section of the Naturist community object.
Magazines that print photographs only of young female professional models, which are disapproved of by many naturists and their opponents alike.
Magazines in the third grouping here do carry naturist columns (such as Sunny Trails in Sunbathing for Health) and advertisements for genuine naturist clubs and societies when no mainstream publication would include these. Many clubs and groups are indebted to them for that. This has been a dilemma for some naturists, who feel they need the editorial content in some magazines while disapproving of some of their photographic content. Writers who produce copy for magazines in the fourth grouping are not widely respected by naturists, though they are often quoted as authoritative sources by the news media.
Naturist clubs were willing to allow filming by the media on their grounds, though the content that proved not to be of genuine naturism ended up being parodied by the media as the norm. Analysis of the Internet shows the trends. Naturist and nudist websites show that pages fall into the same categories. There are many pages displaying explicit and even pornographic images, which are totally alien to the naturist ideal, that use the word “naturist” or “naturism” on their pages and metatags. These are then harvested by media journalists or pro-censorship campaigners to create a false image of naturism.
Today there are high quality naturist magazines in many European countries that reflect the sex and age groups found at clubs and resorts.
Descamps assembles a list of criticisms of naturism: it is too cold; normal bodies look ugly—it is only for the physically beautiful; it is too embarrassing; it is against the laws of nature, against the law, or against religion; “nudism makes me think of sex”; it is for primitive people or animals.
Most popular criticisms for naturism arise from:
Situations of inaccurate usage of the term, criticisms of situations where naturists and non-naturists would share the same concerns. For example, naturism is often added as a tag to titillating websites that have no naturist content.
Criticisms of activities which are imagined to be naturist by a writer who has not researched it in the relevant libraries.
Naturism can sometimes contain aspects of eroticism, although the debate about this is often simplified and seen negatively in the media and the public mind and by many modern naturists and naturist organisations. Historically the experience and discussion of erotic feelings during naturist activities such as dance and gymnastics played an important part in early Germanic naturism and formed part of its ‘positive’ connection with nature. However, it was when naturism arrived in the more sexually conservative cultures of the UK and the United States that the expression and discussion of eroticism within naturism became frowned upon.