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Naturists on a beach

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.[1][2]

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[citation needed]. From Germany the idea spread to the UK, Canada, the United States and beyond where a network of clubs developed. The model of German 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.[3]


Naturism today

Sign at swimming pool depicting, among other requirements, that no clothing is to be worn.

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.[4][5]

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."[1][2]

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."[1][6]

The usage and definition of these terms varies geographically and historically.[7] Though in the United States, naturism and nudism have the same meaning,[8] in Britain there is a clear distinction.[7][9][10] 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.[11]

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.[12][13] 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.

See also: labels, associations and terminology for an extended discussion and disambiguation.

Types of naturism

Carl Larsson Model writing postcards 1906

Naturism is practised in many ways: Marc Alain Descamps,[14] 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[15] 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[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

Social nudism

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.[20]

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.[21]

Families swimming at Monts de Bussy, Haute Vienne, France

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.[1] "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.[22] 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.[20] 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.[20]

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,[23] and Vera Playa in Spain[24] 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.[25]

Freikörperkultur (FKK) (see article in German) 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.[26]

Nude events

Nude beaches

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.[27] In some European countries, such as Denmark,[28] all beaches are clothing optional, while in others like Germany there are naturist sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., in Munich[29] and Berlin.[30] Beaches in some holiday destinations, such as Crete, are also by default clothing-optional, except perhaps central urban beaches.[31] But in Barcelona, naturists can enjoy two beaches even at the central location.[32] Haulover Beach in Miami's Haulover Park is one of America's most popular clothing optional beaches.[citation needed]

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.[33] 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.

Nude recreation

Vintage image (1943) of skinny dippers, members of the Royal Australian Air Force

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.[34] 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[35] and surfing;[36] nude canoeing or kayaking (sometimes called canuding);[21][37] nude hiking (sometimes called free hiking or naked rambling) in the remote countryside,[38] for example in the mountain forest of Tenerife;[39] or cycle riding (free riding) in remote areas and in organised groups through cities;.[40][41] Team sports, especially volleyball, are also very popular, and there are even international naked rugby tournaments.[42]

World Day of Naturism

The International Naturist Federation has designated 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 each year, to tend their gardens in the nude.[43] WNGD was organized by the Body Freedom Collaborative.

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.

Solstice Cyclists

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.

Nude Years Eve Party

Young Naturists And Nudists America host a yearly nude New Years Eve party. In 2010 it was in New York only but in 2011 they expanded to California as well.


Sauna (1802)

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 personal and social nudity, and characterised by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.[1]

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 Ajivika monks 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.[44] 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.[45]

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.

Naturist ideals

Family in Praia do Abricó, Brazil

Individuals have formed nudist groups for a variety of specific purposes.[14] 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.

Naturism and the Romantics

Walt Whitman American writer, A Sun-bathed Nakedness:

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.[46]

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.[46]

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.[47] 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,[48] but with the increased awareness of skin cancer, wearing of sunscreen is now part of the culture.[48][49]

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.[50]

History of social nudity

Max Koch's Freilicht, 1897

Nudity in social contexts has been practised in various forms by many cultures at all time periods.[51] 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.[52]

It is difficult to nominate exactly when naturism started as a movement. In 1903 Paul Zimmermann opened the first club, Freilichtpark, near Hamburg.[53] By 1951, the national federations united to form the International Naturist Federation or INF.[14] 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.[53]

Historical era

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.[54]

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.[53] 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.[53]

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.[53]


Nude beach on the Unterbacher See, near Düsseldorf, Germany

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.[55]

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.[56] Its major promoters were Adolf Koch and Hans Suren. Germany published the first journal of nudism between 1902 and 1932.[57]

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.[58] 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.[56]

Young East German women at a naturist beach in 1988.

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.[59] However, prohibition did not mean the end of nudism and supporters including even SS leaders. The rules were eventually softened in July 1942.[60] 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.[1] 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.[61]


Sign on the beach at Cap d'Agde

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.[14]

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.[14]

Randonue in Les Concluses, Gard, 2008

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.[14]

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.[63] 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.[63]

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.[1][63] 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 and Tri-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.[64]


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.[55]

United Kingdom

Duke's Mound, Brighton. The naturist section of the beach is protected by an artificial bank of shingle

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.[65][66]

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.[65] BN is currently converting to a company limited by guarantee.

In 1961, the BSBA Annual Conference agreed that the term nudist was inappropriate and should be discarded in favour of naturist.[65]

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 at Brighton and Fraisthorpe. Bridlington opened in April 1980.[65]

United States

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.[67] 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.[68] 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.[69] 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.[70][71][72][73] To create a family atmosphere at nudism venues, Boone insisted that alcohol be prohibited at all member clubs. This was not rescinded until 1970,[74] two years after Boone's death.

Nudists at Haulover Beach, Florida, on July 11, 2009

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. Kaniksu Ranch, about 45 miles (70 km) north of Spokane, Washington, opened the same year and is still in operation.[75]

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.[75] 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.[1] 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.[21] The most significant clubs were the Van Tan Club, formed in 1939, and continues today in North Vancouver, BC.,[21]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.[21]

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 (, a region of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) which itself was formerly known as the ASA.[21]

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).[21]


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 "Freikörperkultur," 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 but there are also scores of unofficial strips.

Free beaches

Voidokilia beach in Greece

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.[76]

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.[77] And there are also regular naked surfing competitions and even rugby tournaments.[78]

Nambassa festival, New Zealand, 1981

Festival naturism

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 counterculture Festival an estimated 35% of festival attendance spontaneously chose to remove their clothing,[79] preferring complete or part nudity.[80]


USA: 1983/2000 Gallup poll
Do you believe that people who enjoy nude sunbathing should be able to do so without interference from officials as long as they do so at a beach that is accepted for that purpose?72248017
Local and state governments now set aside public land for special types of recreation such as snowmobiling, surfing and hunting. Do you think special and secluded areas should be set aside for people who enjoy nude sunbathing?39544848
Have you, personally, ever gone "skinny dipping" or nude sunbathing in a mixed group of men and women at a beach, at a pool, or somewhere else?15832573
How we (British people) discovered naturism:
Beach abroad29%
Beach in UK20%
The Web3%
Ever been member of a club?
Do you use UK naturist beaches?
If you use a naturist holiday facility abroad:
Own Tent12.7%
Hire Caravan10%
Own Caravan8.7%
Bed and Breakfast6.6%
Motor home4.2%
Own accommodation3.1%
Hire Tent2.4%

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 and nudist magazines

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.[21] 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.[21] 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.[83]

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.[citation needed]

Today there are high quality naturist magazines in many European countries that reflect the sex and age groups found at clubs and resorts.


Descamps[14] 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:

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.[3] 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.[3]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Choin, Mireille; Internationale Naturisten Federatie (2002) (in Dutch). Wereldgids naturisme 2002-2003 [World naturist handbook 2002-2003] (26 ed.). Diegem, Belgium: Wolters Kluwer. ISBN 978-90-5583-833-2. OCLC 66965885. 
  2. ^ a b "INF-FNI International Naturist Federation". Hörsching, Austria: International Naturist Federation. 
  3. ^ a b c Smith, G and King, M, Naturism and sexuality: Broadening our approach to sexual wellbeing. Health & Place (2008).
  4. ^ , 2007,, retrieved 2007-11-29 
  5. ^ "Le naturisme est la doctrine qui consiste à laisser agir la nature plutot que d'intervenir de manière artificielle". Dr Jean Baptiste Luc Planchon (1734-1781) Il sera publié en 1778 sous le titre :Le Naturisme ou la nature considérée dans les maladies et leur traitement conforme à la doctrine et à la pratique d'Hippocrate et ses sectateurs".
  6. ^ The Hannover based Bund für freies Lebensgestaltung Hannover wrote "Naturism is a new lifestyle caring for the body, the soul and the spirit in society.We live the ideal of freedom, conscious of its limits, taking up our responsibility. The expression of our will is nudity, our admission of sincerity. In 2002–2003 World Guide as above.
  7. ^ a b In his book, Cinema Au Naturel (Introduction on page 11), author Mark Storey states "two related terms that we will continually run across are nudist and naturist. Although, the meanings of the two terms are virtually identical, they often have different connotations for those who prefer one to the other. In America people who believe that it is physically, socially, emotionally, and perhaps spiritually healthy to go about fully nude individually and in groups of mixed sex whenever weather permits and others are not offended generally refer to themselves as "nudists". In Europe such people more often than not refer to themselves as "naturists."
  8. ^ Montana Naturist website
  9. ^ 1996-1997 World Naturist Handbook, pub International Naturist Federation INF-FNI, Sint Hubertusstraat, B-2600 Berchem(Antwerpen) ISBN 90-6716-833-5 Here the English version of the Agde definition was translated differently. Naturism (American "nudism") is a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and the environment.
  10. ^ Presently, Mark Storey is authoring an article detailing historical use of the terms naturism and nudism and how they differ between different cultures, countries, and time periods in history. In a telephone interview by Daniel Johnson on 15 April 2006 with Storey he stated that "a draft of the piece was posted on the "References" page of The Naturist Society web site for a few weeks". At the time of its former release in October 2004 it was titled Naturism, Nudism, or Nameless? A History of Terms He is planning on publishing a revised article as soon as additional information and errors are corrected.
  11. ^ Ray Connett, Sunny Trails, in Sunbathing for Health Sept 1947 p 8, July 1957 p 14 writes that Naturism is a weasel word that can mean anything
  12. ^ noun meaning 3 from Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition 2009
  13. ^ Summer Lightning by Adam Mars-Jones, 1988: "textile - a term of abuse for everything {naturists} despise in the clothed world ... someone who doesn't exist except as a succession of costumes"
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Vivre Nu: Psychosociologie du Naturisme, Marc-Alain Descamps, Edition Trismégiste, 1987, ISBN 2-86509-026-4
  15. ^ Betty N. Gordon and Carolyn S. Schroeder (1995), Sexuality: A Developmental Approach to Problems, Springer, p. 16, ISBN 0-306-45040-2 
  16. ^ Barbara L. Bonner (1999), "When does sexual play suggest a problem?", in Howard Dubowitz and Diane Depanfilis, Handbook for Child Protection Practice [1], Sage Publications, p. 211, ISBN 0-7619-1371-8 
  17. ^ John Bancroft (2003), Sexual Development in Childhood, Indiana University Press, pp. 146–147, ISBN 0-253-34243-0 
  18. ^ Okami, P. (1995), "Childhood exposure to parental nudity‚ parent-child co-sleeping‚ and 'primal scenes': A review of clinical opinion and empirical evidence", Journal of Sex Research 32: 51–64, doi:10.1080/00224499509551774. 
  19. ^ Okami, P.; Olmstead, R.; Abramson, P.; Pendleton, L. (1998), "Early childhood exposure to parental nudity and scenes of parental sexuality ('primal scenes'): An 18-year longitudinal study of outcome", Archives of Sexual Behavior 27 (4): 361–384, doi:10.1023/A:1018736109563, PMID 9681119, 
  20. ^ a b c Histoire de Montalivet et des Naturistes du Medoc, Marc-Alain Deschamps, pub. Editions Publimag ISBN 2-952420-0-4
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Au naturel, the History of Nudism in Canada, James Woycke Ph.D, pub 2003, Federation of Canadian Naturists, ISBN 0-9682332-3-6
  22. ^ The three biggest Centers on the Medoc are Euronat 335ha, CHM 175ha with a 3km beach, and La Jenny 127ha
  23. ^ naturists, young and active!: Naturist village Charco del Palo
  24. ^ ,, retrieved 2007-11-22 
  25. ^ For a relaxed explanation
  26. ^ Croatia's best naturist / Nudist / FKK beaches, 2007,, retrieved 2007-11-27 
  27. ^ Buzzy, Gordon (2007-06-01), "10 great places to leave the swimsuit at home", USA Today (USA Today),, retrieved 2007-11-27 AANR John Kinman refers to ten beaches
  28. ^ Naturist net Scandinavia with geolocations
  29. ^ ,, retrieved 2007-11-27 
  30. ^ active naturists: Berlin
  31. ^ active naturists: Crete
  32. ^ active naturists: Barcelona
  33. ^ a b Boura, Malcolm (Summer), "Campaigning", British Naturism BN 172: 31, ISSN 0406 0264 0406 
  34. ^ active naturists: naturist activities
  35. ^ active naturists: snorkeling at the Red Sea
  36. ^ active naturists: naturist activities
  37. ^ active naturists
  38. ^ ,, retrieved 2007-11-27 
  39. ^ active naturists: hiking in Tenerife
  40. ^ "Riders get naked for a weekend of anti-car cycling demonstrations", The Guardian, 2009-06-12,, retrieved 2010-06-11 
  41. ^ ,, retrieved 2007-11-27 
  42. ^ active naturists: naturist activities
  43. ^ World Naked Gardening Day
  44. ^ * Jim Hamm Productions Limited Spirit Wrestlers, a 2002 documentary video and DVD about the Russian Christian sect called Freedomite Doukhobors,
  45. ^ "What Do The First Three Chapters Of Genesis Teach About Clothing?" by Ian B. Johnson, Fig Leaf Forum (note: articles such as this one are peer reviewed)
  46. ^ a b , 
  47. ^ (see Gill Perry's writing on The Decorative, The Expressive and The Primitive in Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early Twentieth Century)
  48. ^ a b BUPA's Health Information Team (24 March 2004), Hot topic - Vitamin D, sunlight and cancer,, retrieved 2/12/2007 
  49. ^ Local knowledge
  50. ^ Discussed in:Veltheim, Andrew, Naturism: Naked Beneath Your Clothing, archived from the original on 8 April 2010,, retrieved 24 April 2012 
  51. ^ active naturists: nudity as a social norm
  52. ^ active naturists: naked sport events throughout history
  53. ^ a b c d e Buchy, Philip Edward (2005), A Nudist Resort, thesis for MA, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, Department of Architecture,, retrieved 29/11/2007 
  54. ^ Farrar, Michael, ISSN 0406 0264 0406,, retrieved 2011-08-30 
  55. ^ a b c d e f g h Anderson, Howard, Why be a naturist: A brief history of modern naturism, archived from the original on 5 January 2009,, retrieved 24 April 2012 
  56. ^ a b Empire of ecstasy: nudity and movement in German body culture, 1910-1935 By Karl Eric Toepfer
  57. ^ Homosexuality and Male Bonding in Pre-Nazi Germany by Hubert Kennedy. 1992
  58. ^ The cult of health and beauty in Germany: a social history, 1890-1930 by Michael Hau
  59. ^ Naked Germany: health, race and the nation by Chad Ross
  60. ^ Freikörperkultur Geschichte
  61. ^ "". Retrieved 2/12/2007. 
  62. ^ fr:Naturisme
  63. ^ a b c French wikipedia
  64. ^ Bodo Niemann, Gerhard Riebicke und die Freikörperkultur 
  65. ^ a b c d Farrar, Michael (2007), The history of naturism - a timeline,, retrieved 02/01/2008 
  66. ^ Farrar, Michael (2007), The Moonella Group,, retrieved 02/01/2008 
  67. ^ Ellensburg Daily Record, Aug 2, 1932
  68. ^ The American Gymnosophical Association statement -Its History, Purposeful Development and Philosophical Outlook-written by Katherine and Herman Soshinski circa 1950-collection of Rock Lodge Club
  69. ^ The Sunday Spartanburg Herald-Journal July 23, 1933
  70. ^ The History of Social Nudism - Nudist History
  71. ^ History of Naturism
  72. ^ Body Acceptance: A Brief History of Social Nudity
  73. ^ Roberts v. Clement
  74. ^ The Bulletin (AANR), March 2010, p.6
  75. ^ a b Exposed and stark naked -- on purpose, Kathy George, Seattle Post-Intelligencer 2003-04-07 accessed 15/01/2008
  76. ^ a b "1999 National Survey on Canadian Attitudes Towards Nudity". Federation of Canadian Naturists. Ontario, Canada: Federation of Canadian Naturists. 1999. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  77. ^ :: The Sopelana Naturist Race ::
  78. ^ active naturists: naturist activities
  79. ^ Public nudity at Nambassa
  80. ^ Nambassa: A New Direction, edited by Colin Broadley and Judith Jones, A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1979. ISBN 0-589-01216-9
  81. ^ Anderson, Howard (2000), Why be a naturist: Statistics, archived from the original on 19 December 2008,, retrieved 24 April 2012 
  82. ^ "BN Members Questionnaire", British Naturism 164: 26, Summer, ISSN 0264-0406,  and two next issue.
  83. ^ Edwards, Adam (10 May 2006), "Stark naked ambition", The Daily Telegraph (London: Sunday Telegraph),, retrieved 2/12/2007  gives a history of naturism, written in a personal style that attempts to use this type of humour.

Further reading

External links