The belief in or practice of going nude, especially in secluded, sexually
mixed groups for reasons of health. Nudism, or naturism, is the practice of going nude or unclothed in social
and usually mixed gender groups, specifically in cultures where this is
not the norm. It sometimes occurs furtively in secluded places in
countries where appearing naked in public is illegal, but enjoys
widespread acceptance in other areas of the world. Those who practice
nudism are called nudists or naturists. Some people believe that being
naked with other people is necessarily always sexual, or that nudism is
morally wrong or pornographic. Naturists generally reject these views.
Typical activities are sunbathing and sports, but some nudists prefer also
to be nude while working etc., whenever the temperature and the social
situation allows it (including when one is alone).
Naturism (pronounced "nature" + "ism") should not be confused with
naturalism, the study of nature.
General: Nudists believe that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of, being
something that we all possess and ought to cherish. Consequently, nudists
participate in various social activities in the nude.
Although the terms are used interchangeably in this article, some would
draw a distinction between the terms nudism and naturism. In this view a
nudist is one who sometimes chooses to go without clothes. A naturist is
one who embraces a philosophy that includes more than occasional nudity,
often environmentalism, vegetarianism or simply more of a closeness to
nature. Others would argue that the term naturism implies snobbery, and
there is no distinction. A visit to a nude beach may entitle someone to be
called a nudist, but does not make one a naturist. Changing and showering
in a locker room probably does not qualify for either. Doing housework in
the nude might. Many nudists do so casually at home. An alternate usage of
these terms held by some North Americans is: nudist=nude indoors,
naturist=nude outdoors. The nudist or naturist label is really a state of
mind of the practitioner, instead of a strictly defined classification
imposed by others.
Nudism is not equivalent to exhibitionism. It is people who enjoy being
nude and who are not primarily interested in seeing others naked
(strictly, voyeurism) or being seen naked by others. That being said, all
kinds of people are attracted to the movement, for all kinds of reasons.
Many naturists are convinced that increased exposure to the natural
environment, made easier through nudity, can result in numerous health
benefits. Sunlight has been shown to be beneficial in some skin
conditions, and is required by the body to make vitamin D. However, with
the increased awareness of skin cancer, wearing of sun block/sun protection
lotions is now part of the nudist culture and is one of their frequently
discussed topics. Whereas nudist parents do not require their children to
put on clothes before going outside at a nudist club or beach, most do
require them to put on sunscreen lotion. Overall, naturists often claim
that they are more relaxed and in a better state of mind when they shed
Being around like-minded people can make interpersonal interactions, such
as meeting new friends, easier and many nudist organizations are really
just social clubs. Indeed, some of these clubs have stricter entrance
requirements than some traditional up-scale 'country clubs' - requiring
references, a sponsoring member, a trial membership, committee approval,
and, due to fears about sex offenders, criminal background checks (though
this is normally only done on male applicants). At the other end of the
spectrum is 'unorganized' naturism in which there is nothing to join, no
one to pay, and only civil, common and criminal law to serve as rules of
etiquette. Many people get their first exposure to the naturist movement
through this kind of informal nudism (e.g. a clothing optional beach, a
friend's place in the woods, a party on the shore; skinny dipping).
Strong nudist movements exist in Germany (called FKK or Freikorperkultur
- Free Body Culture), France and the Netherlands, and smaller such
organizations exist in many other nations. Social nudity is practiced in
many cultures, especially in the context of social bathing, sometimes with
Association with sex: Many non-nudists believe that nudity in a social setting arouses lust.
Most nudists disagree, saying that there is more sexual tension in the
near-nude environment of a pool or a beach than at a nudist site. This
belief is reflected in the nudist adage "nude, not lewd."
Most nudists and nudist organizations maintain and enforce a policy
prohibiting sex in public, and it is rare to see obvious signs of sexual
behavior (including staring or gawking) at most sites. These are the
stereotypical family-oriented clubs and beaches.
Many nudists feel it is inappropriate for males to openly display a
non-sexual spontaneous erection. However, some believe it should be
included as a part of "body acceptance" a key philosophy of nudists. This
has been the subject of endless debate on nudist/naturist Internet web
forums. Under normal circumstances, nudists recommend covering up with a
towel, turning over (if lying down), sitting down, going for a swim, or
otherwise minimizing the erection's presence until the penis is in its
normal position. For some activities (e.g. water skiing) this may not be
immediately practicable or even possible, and typical nudist etiquette
suggests it then be ignored by everyone. Public nude beaches tend to be
less strict on this issue than private nudist resorts and clubs. Also,
nudists are generally more tolerant of spontaneous erection in pre and
post-pubescent boys than in older teens and men.
The possibility of erection is a concern often cited by men who are
apprehensive of nudism, but nudists do not generally consider this to be a
reason for avoiding their sites and activities. Erections (spontaneous or
otherwise), are rare, they say, because the nudist environment is
non-sexual. Further, some nudists suggest that fear of getting an erection
is itself a factor that can prevent spontaneous erections.
Should an erection occur, nudists do not consider it a reason for males to
be ashamed of their bodies, or to desperately attempt to cover an erection
by hand. Nudists describe themselves as generally understanding and polite
people who know that any male could potentially have an erection at any
time. There is a balance, they say, between flaunting it and being
ashamed. They generally will not tolerate a grown man wandering around for
no obvious reason while simultaneously having an erection. Because
policies vary from place to place, nudists suggest that those who have
concerns should discuss them with management. Overall, females tend to be
among the most tolerant on this issue, however, they are often the first
to complain whenever someone shows disrespect for etiquette.
Involvement in naturism has not been shown to be harmful and may even be
beneficial to childhood psychological development (see for example
Federation of Canadian Naturists FAQ (http://www.fcn.ca/FCNFAQ.html)). Of
course parents always need to be vigilant to guard their children from
sexual predators. This applies equally to naturists as it does for
Desmond Morris, social anthropologist and author of The Naked Ape,
suggests that "If you perform nudity in public you destroy its value as an
erotic action." However, some fringe groups and gatherings (such as
Swingstock) are more like sex clubs and not considered by most to be
examples of true nudism.
Manners: Nudists will wear clothes if the weather demands it. Naturists are
generally accepting people, the general idea being simply doing things
nude that one would normally do clothed. However, the nudist culture has
its own rules of etiquette.
Nudists consider it essential to sit on a towel whenever sitting on a
chair, bench, or anything else where others might sit, and they consider
it very poor etiquette to do otherwise. Likewise, sitting on someone
else's towel is also a breach of etiquette. For privacy reasons, there is
often a prohibition on cameras (including cell phone cameras) at nudist
venues, aimed at preventing photography without consent. Other rules may
include a prohibition on pets, weapons, loud music, etc. These policies
vary between nudist sites, and nudists recommend that new visitors make
themselves aware of the specific rules prior to a visit.
Some nudist organizations do not allow people with body piercing on their
premises. (Presumably this rule refers to the foreign objects in the
piercing, not to the piercing themselves.) Most, however, accept people
of all sizes, shapes and types including those with surgical scars,
tattoos or interestingly trimmed (or absence of) hair. Many nudist
organizations do not allow unaccompanied men,
whereas most nudist organizations not only allow but encourage
unaccompanied women to join them. That this is hypocritical of a
subculture which promotes acceptance is a topic often debated.
Some nudist resorts, clubs, or beaches require full nudity at all times
(with exceptions, such as when a woman is experiencing menstruation, or
certain days/hours for new visitors and cold weather). Most have this
policy only for the swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, hot tub bath, etc.,
with clothing optional elsewhere. Recently, to avoid any possible
litigation, some privately owned resorts and clubs in the USA forbid
bringing any minor children from other families without written permission
in advance. A few even exclude children of divorced parents without the
written consent of the other ex-spouse (unless they can prove full
custody). Of course, this does not apply to public beaches. If a visitor
encourages another visitor to be nude, this may give rise to suspicion
that nudity is desired for visual satisfaction, which may be considered
Naturist terminology: Nudists sometimes refer to people who do not practice nudity as textiles.
Clothing optional or C.O. usually refers to a facility that allows and
encourages nudity but tolerates the wearing of clothes, whereas a nudist
facility usually insists on complete nudity where practicable (to ensure
that no one feels inappropriately dressed). Top free refers to an area that
allows uncovered female breasts, also known as topless (top free being used
since topless has a negative connotation in some parts of the world). A
free beach is not so much one without an admission cost, but one in which
people can be entirely free of their clothes. A landed organization is one
that owns the real estate it is situated on. Non-landed or travel clubs
meet regularly at different locations such as nudist resorts, bowling
alleys, or swimming pools rented for the purpose. A smoothie is a person
who shaves off much of his/her body hair. (See Acomoclitic)
History of nudism: Genetic studies of the human body louse, which requires clothes to
survive, suggests that humans started wearing garments 72,000 years ago
+/- 42,000 years. This estimate matches that of the first appearance of
physical evidence of clothing-making tools. The species Homo sapiens
itself has existed for 200,000 or more years, so the 'natural' condition
of humans is nude.
Informal nudism has always been practiced. Ancient cultures (the Greeks
and the Romans for example) sometimes had quite different attitudes toward
the unclothed human body than is common today. In fact, the word
"gymnasium" comes from the Greek word "gymnos," meaning "nude," because
athletics in Greece was routinely practiced naked by its participants.
Nudity taboos are often a holdover from a practical need for body
covering, as with temperate or desert cultures, where people initially
wear clothing in public by habit because of practical reasons, until it
becomes ingrained in the culture itself that this is a requirement.
Objections against being nude are often religiously motivated, even when
they start out as a cultural taboo as in the previous paragraph. Some
peoples have started wearing clothes only after missionaries argued that
that is more civilized. However, there are many devout nudists who attend
services regularly and argue that they do not need to shed their morals
with their clothes. Also there is a Christian sect that practiced
religious nudism, the Adamites.
The first known organized club for nudists, Freilichtpark (Free-Light
Park), was opened near Hamburg in 1903. The nudist movement gained
prominence in Germany in the 1920s, but was suppressed during the Nazi
Gleichschaltung after Adolf Hitler came to power. Social nudism in the
form of private clubs and campgrounds first appeared in the United States
in the 1930s. A 1935 advertisement claims Sea Island Sanctuary, South
Carolina, was the "largest and oldest" year round resort where nudism
could be practiced. In Canada, it first appeared in British Columbia and
neighboring Washington State about 1939 and in Ontario nine years later.
Major nudist organizations: Worldwide: International Naturist Federation/Federation Naturiste
Internationale (http://www.inffni.org/) (INF/FNI) with member regional
organizations in 30 countries.
Australia: the national organisation is the Australian Nudist
Israel: the national organisation is the Israeli Naturist Society (http://naturism.org.il/Eng/default.asp)
Canada: the Federation of Canadian Naturists (http://www.fcn.ca/) (FCN)
Netherlands: has the Naturisten Federatie Nederland (http://www.nfn.nl/) (FEN) and the ADN Spanish magazine (http://www.naturismo.org/adn/)
United Kingdom: the national organisation is British Naturism (http://www.british-naturism.org.uk/),
formerly known as CCBN (Central Council for British Naturism).
United States: the American Association of Nude Recreation (http://www.aanr.com/) (AANR) and The Naturist Society (TNS) are the two major nudist
Public outdoor nudist areas: These can be found using a search
engine of your choice.