Naturism

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Naturists posing on a Crimean beach, 2008
Florida Young Naturists at an AANR camp, 2014

Naturism (also called nudism) is a term used by individuals or groups who believe being nude with other people has many benefits, and should be allowed or promoted. Seeing members of the opposite sex allows people to learn that nudity is not just about sex. Seeing a variety of bodies of all types produces a more realistic and positive self-image.[1] Some naturists want to be nude in places to which only other naturists have access, such as camp grounds or resorts. Other want areas of public property such as swimming beaches to be designated "clothing optional" without limiting access to non-naturists. Individuals who practice nudity in the home or other places where only family or friend are present are not generally thought of as naturists. The movement developed in Europe, and European countries (especially those in the north of Europe), are generally more tolerant towards nudity in public.

Semi-private naturism[change | change source]

Naturism is not public when only other naturists are present. Access is limited to members of a naturist organization, invited guests, or paying customers at naturist resorts. Rules may allow clothing, but usually not in some areas such as swimming pools.

History of naturism[change | change source]

Naturism began in the late 19th century in Germany. The movement to return to nature was opposed to the changes as more people began living in cities.[2] In 1904, Paul Zimmermann opened perhaps the first camp or "nudist colony" near Hamburg, Germany. It was called Freilichtpark in German (in English, "Free Light Park").[3]

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. After Barthel, Ilsley Boone became president of ALPC. Boone had been a minister (religious leader) of a large church. He quit to become involved with naturism all the time. Also, he renamed the ALPC as the "American Sunbathing Association."

Current practices[change | change source]

Since 1995 the ALPC has been known as the "American Association for Nude Recreation" (AANR). "Nudist clubs" continue to attract those who want to be nude with others who think the same as they do, and avoid conflict with the general public that disapprove.

Public naturism[change | change source]

In the present, Germany has accepted naturism in everyday life. Many beaches have clothing optional areas, and nude sunbathing is allowed in the parks of major cities. Germans and other Northern Europeans have followed the Finnish tradition of the sauna, which is visited nude and may have no separation by gender.

In the United States there are fewer clothing optional places, and varying legal recognition. In some states nudity is no longer allowed at beaches that were nude in 1960s and 70s.[4] Some beaches are so isolated that they continue attract naturism when it is not legal.

World Naked Bike Ride, London, 2014

Special events[change | change source]

Nudity is allowed in some places for events where it would not be otherwise. An example is the annual "World Naked Bike Ride", which is held in many cities around the world as a protest against cars and the use of fossil fuel.

The day before Lent is celebrated by Carnival, some cities having street parades of performers in various states of undress.

Naturism and religion[change | change source]

Naturism is opposed by many based on religious beliefs. Islam and conservative Judaism have strict rules of modesty in clothing. In Christianity there are wide differences between groups. Conservative Christians also value modesty, but there are also Christian naturists. In India, Hinduism and Jainism include individuals who reject clothing along with all other worldly possessions.

See also[change | change source]

  • Body positivity - a movement to accept one's own body as it is. People who believe in body positivity often want to show their bodies (even if they aren't perfect).

References[change | change source]

  1. Hile, Jennifer (2004). "The Skinny on Nudism in the U.S." National Geographic. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  2. "Nudism". Grinnell University: Subcultures and Sociology. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  3. "The Nude Culture of Germany". Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  4. Sisson, Paul (23 March 2010). "San Onofre: State begins citing nudists at beach". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 13 September 2016.