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Group of people at a naturist beach
Nude sunbath
Standing nude at a naturist beach

Naturism or nudism (from Latin nudus - nude) is a term used by many action groups in society. These action groups usually want to spread the news that being naked is a good feeling, even around other people. Usually males and females are mixed and spend their time together. Nakedness is seen without any relation to sex. Rather, these action groups want to enjoy common activities in the nude, like bathing. Often, they also want to do things nude where this is not really necessary, like naked bicycle tours.

It is difficult to know exactly when naturism began as an action group. In 1903, Paul Zimmermann opened the first club, Freilichtpark (in English, "Free Light Park"), near Hamburg, Germany. In the United States, German immigrant Kurt Barthel organized the first nudist event in the forest just outside of New York City. His club was called "the American League for Physical Culture" (ALPC) and started in the late 1920's. Zimmermann's vice president was a man named Ilsley Boone. Boone had been a minister (religious leader) of a large church. He quit to become involved with naturism all the time, and soon replaced Zimmermann as president. Also, he renamed the ALPC as the "American Sunbathing Association." Since 1995, it is known as the "American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR)."

Naturists come from many different social classes and backgrounds, and practice naturism for very different reasons. In addition, religion can affect how people dress. Islam generally does not allow anyone to be seen naked by others, except married couples in private, and young children by their parents and caregivers. Traditional Judaism is similar, but less strict about a group of people of the same sex. In India, Hinduism and Jainism have a few rituals with male nudism. Buddhism has little to say about naturism. If practiced, it is considered more of a way of living, than anything religious. Nudity and naturism are probably the most complicated in Christianity. Many Christians have similar views as those of traditional Judaism, the religion from which Christianity began and grew out of. Others, called "Christian naturists," believe it is alright to be nude, and even to live nude, unless it is for the wrong reason or forced. They consider the human body to be the greatest creation of God. They think it is not shameful and should not be covered. In addition, they believe it was the devil, not God, who told Adam and Eve that they were naked upon eating from a fruit tree which was not theirs.

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