The naturist philosophy has several sources, many of which can be traced back to the health and fitness philosophy in Germany in the early twentieth century, though the concept of returning to nature, and creating equality are also cited as inspiration. From Germany the idea spread to England, Canada, the United States and beyond where a network of clubs developed. The model of German naturism is to promote naturistic family and recreational sports, with the DFK being a member of the German Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB). French naturism, on the other hand, developed on the basis of large holiday complexes. This concept in turn influenced Quebec and then 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.
More recently, clothes free beaches and other types of anonymous nudist activities have served those who wish to take part in naturist activities without belonging to any clubs.
Naturism does not include eroticism and blatant sexuality, although it is sometimes associated with this in the media and the public mind.
The International Naturist Federation explains:
The usage and definition of these terms varies geographically and historically. Though in the United States, naturism and nudism have very similar meanings, 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, the word textilist is used to describe someone who is not a naturist, or the act of not being naturist. e.g.He stayed all week but was textilist all the time. It is also used as an adjective to describe a facility where naturism is not allowed e.g. "the textilist beach starts at the flag". 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, disallowing nudity, thus requiring the wearing of clothes. Clothes free/clothes-free and clothing free/clothing-free are used as adjectives to describe when naturism is permitted in an otherwise textilist environment.
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.
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.
A Canadian survey showed that 39% of all Canadians would or have walked around the house nude. And in British Columbia this is as high as 51%. Individual nudism can also include sleeping in the nude, but this is sometimes seen as a health benefit, due to the fact that, when naked in bed, it can be much easier to relax and fall asleep, resulting in longer and more restful sleep but it can also be for the reason of comfort.
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 organisations were mainly composed of representatives of landed clubs. A 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 centre is a facility that specialises in providing apartments, chalets and camping pitches for visiting holidaymakers. The centre is run commercially, and visitors are not members and have no say in the management. Most holiday centres expect visitors to hold an INF card, that is be a member of their national organisation, but some have relaxed this restriction, relying on the carrying of a trade card. Holiday centres can be quite small, just a couple of hectares or large occupying over 300 hectares. In a large holiday centre there will be swimming pools, sports pitches, an entertainment program, kid's clubs, restaurants and supermarkets. Some holiday centre's allow regular visitors to purchase their own chalets, and generations of the same families will visit each year. Holiday centres are more relaxed about textilists than members clubs; total nudity is usual in the swimming pools and 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) (see Freikörperkultur) 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 and Norway, all beaches are clothing optional, while in others like Germany there are naturist sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., in Munich.
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 ASA, and set up the rival body The Naturist Society.
Naturism had many different philosophical sources and means many things to different people. There is no one definition. The INF have framed this definition:
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. The INF definition is a compromise that has held since 1974. In it you can see the elements: lifestyle, harmony with nature, social nudity, self respect, differing opinions, respect for the environment.
In the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great of Macedonia encountered, in India, wandering groups of naked holy men which he dubbed the naked philosophers. (Gr gymnos: naked; sophist: knowledge ). Onesicritus, the philosopher, 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 practised 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).
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 the 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 practised by males. Digambar means 'clothed with the sky'. Wiccans have adopted this wording and some practise their rituals 'skyclad'.
Another religious sect, the Doukhobors, migrated from Russia to western Canada. They practise or practised 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.
Some of these ideas have become mainstream. Others have been quietly forgotten. It is generally agreed among naturists that erotism and blatant sexuality have no place in naturism and are, in fact, antithetical to its ideals.
Walt Whitman American writer, A Sun-bathed Nakedness:
Henry David Thoreau, Walking, in In wildness is the preservation of the world.
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.
Nudity in social contexts has been practised in various forms by many cultures at all time periods. 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.
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.
In the twenty-first century, with changing leisure patterns, commercial organisations began opening holiday resorts to attract naturists who expected a standard of comfort and amenity equal to, or exceeding, that found at textilist resorts.
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.
See also: Freikörperkultur
The nudist movement gained prominence in Germany in the 1920s, but was suppressed during the Nazi Gleichschaltung after Adolf Hitler came to power. The state-controlled leisure organization of the Nazis, Kraft durch Freude, refused to recognize it. However, it was later discovered that Luftwaffe (Air Force) head Hermann Göring had single-handedly written his own strict anti-nudity views into the Gleichschaltung, thereby imposing his views on everyone (he had been one of its main authors). Many in the Nazi party thought he had gone too far, so after nearly a decade, 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 enjoyed nudism as one the few freedoms they had under the communist government, chiefly at beaches rather than clubs (private organizations being regarded as potentially subversive by the regime). 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.
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 Féderation Française de Naturisme. 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.
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 has remained much the same but is now more commonly known simply as British Naturism or BN.
In 1961, the BSBA Annual Conference agreed that the term nudist was inappropriate and should be discarded in favour of naturist.
Rock Lodge Club, about 40 miles (65 km) from New York City in Stockholm, New Jersey, started in 1932 and is still in operation today. 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 U.S. and Canada about 1939. In that year, the first club in Canada, the Van Tan Club, formed 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 in public locations rather than on private premises, though it also sponsors several annual gatherings held at private resorts.
In 1995, the ASA was renamed as the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). The AANR represents over 270 clubs and resorts, and is the US representative on the INF. The AANR currently has its headquarters in Florida.
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 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 Western Canadian Association for Nude Recreation (WCANR), 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 Québec, 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 FCN-FQN Union as the official Canadian representative in the International Naturist Federation (INF).
|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?||72||24||80||17|
|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?||39||54||48||48|
|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?||15||83||25||73|
|Beach in UK||20%|
|Bed and Breakfast||6.6%|
Naturism addresses, challenges and explores a myriad of sometimes taboo subjects: stereotypes and mores relating to the nude appearance of the human body, mixed gender nudity, personal space, human sexuality, gymnophobia, modesty, physical attractiveness, vanity, objectification, exploitation and consent. It can thus be controversial.
This has been a dilemma for naturists, who needed the small amount of editorial content in some magazines while thoroughly disapproving of the photographic content. Writers who produced copy for these magazines are not respected by many naturists though often quoted as authoritative sources by the textilist press.
Naturist clubs were willing to allow film shoots on their grounds, though the content proved not to be naturist and naturism ended up being parodied.
Analysis of the Internet shows the trends. Naturist and nudist websites shows that pages fall into the same categories. There are many pages displaying titillating photographs, and even pornagraphic 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 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 gender 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: