AskDefine | Define naturism

Dictionary Definition

naturism n : going without clothes as a social practice [syn: nudism]

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Syllables: na·tur·is·m AHD: nāʹchər·ĭz·əm IPA: /ˈneɪ.tʃəɹˌɪz.əm/


  1. The belief in or practice of going nude or unclad in social and usually mixed-gender groups, specifically in cultures where this is not the norm or for health reasons.


Related terms


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Extensive Definition

Naturism or nudism is a cultural and political movement advocating and defending social nudity in private and in public. It may also be a lifestyle based on personal, family and/or social nudism.
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.

Naturism today

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.
According to the international definition adopted by the XIV Congress of the International Naturist Federation (Agde, 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."
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."
The usage and definition of these terms varies geographically and historically. 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.
See also: labels, associations and terminology for an extended discussion and disambiguation.

Types of naturism

Naturism is practiced in many ways; Marc Alain Descamps,

Social nudism

Social nudism is nudism in a social context, either at ones home with friends or with acquaintances at a nudist event (e.g. a naked party) or facility, such as a naturist club, community, centre, 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.
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. 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. 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 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.

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. In some European countries, such as Denmark and Norway,
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.

Nudism in the wild

  • Skinny dipping is stripping off to swim naked at a remote river, lake, or swimming hole. Ernest Thompson Seton describes skinny dipping as one of the first activities of his Woodcraft Indians, a forerunner of the scouts in 1902. Swimming was done nude at the YMCA until the 1960s in single sex groups. In some English schools, Manchester Grammar School for example, nude swimming was compulsory until the 1970s. This was also the case for some US junior high schools. A Gallup poll in 2000 showed that 25% of all American adults had been skinny dipping at least once. The French term is 'Randonnue'. It happens worldwide even in densely populated areas like South East England.
  • Free riding is the practice of riding in the remote countryside while nude. The German term is 'Nacktreiten'. The term can also be used to refer to naked cycle riding.

Campaigning naturism

Nude protests have a long history :Doukhobor. Womens Institute Calendar


Naturism had many different philosophical sources and means many things to different people. There is no one definition. The INF have framed this definition:
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.

Naturist ideals

Groups have been formed to live their dreams, and then split up over questions of principles. There are many examples of the differences between various groups, often resulting in two or more national organisations. Here is a non-exclusive list, taken from Descamps,
Henry David Thoreau, Walking, in In wildness is the preservation of the world.
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.
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.

Naturism for health

German naturism came from the Lebensreform movement. The Wandervogel youth movement of 1896, from Steiglitz, Berlin promoted ideas of fitness and vigour inspired by thoughts of nationalism, rebelling against the thoughts of their parents. 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. (Sunlight has been shown to be beneficial in some skin conditions and enables the body to make vitamin D).
  • Arnold Rickli in 1853, opened a light bathing clinic in Switzerland.
  • Heinrich Pudor wrote on methods to improve social hygiene in his book Nackende Menchen und Jauchzen der Zukunft (Naked people and the future of Mankind) and then Nacktkultur (The cult of the nude). It prescribes an austere lifestyle and nudity.. In the early 1940s he was out of favour and arrested. By 1945, he had turned full circle and was writing religious texts. Though never a member of any FKK club he was awarded honorary membership of the DFK in 1952.
  • Nudists became a large element in German Left Wing Politics. The Proletarische Freikörperkulturbewegung subsection of the Workers Sports Organisation had 60000 members.

History of social nudity

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.
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. 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. Drs. André and Gaston Durville opened a naturist health centre, edited the La vie sage(1924) and bought a 70 hectare site, Héliopolis on the Île du Levant. The village was open to the public. Dr François Fougerat de David de Lastours was gassed in the Great War and was saved by exposure to the sun. In 1925 wrote a thesis on heliotherapy and in 1925 opened the Club gymnique de France. Jacque de Marquette wrote on naturism and vegetarianism. In 1936, government minister Léo Lagrange recognised the naturist movement. 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.
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. To create a family atmosphere at nudism venues, Boone insisted that alcohol be prohibited at all member clubs. Social nudism in the form of private clubs and campgrounds began appearing in the 1930s.
Elsewhere in the United States, a 1935 advertisement claims Sea Island Sanctuary, South Carolina, was the "largest and oldest" resort where nudism could be practised year-round. Rock Lodge Club, in Stockholm, New Jersey, about 40 miles (65 km) from New York City, started in 1932 and is still in operation today. 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.
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. which found the following:
  • In 2005 the British CCBN commissioned a survey of members, which found that:


Peng Travel, a UK naturist holiday travel agent was valued at 1.8m GBP when it was sold in 2005.
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 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:
  • situations of accurate usage of the term, criticisms of situations where naturists and textilists would share the same concerns. For example, naturism is often added as a tag to titillating websites that have naturist content.
  • criticisms of activitites which are imagined to be naturist by a writer who has not researched it in the relevant libraries.


Further reading

External links

National organisations

Organization and landed site directories

naturism in Tosk Albanian: Naturismus
naturism in Breton: Naturegezh
naturism in Bulgarian: Натуризъм
naturism in Catalan: Naturisme
naturism in Czech: Nudismus
naturism in Danish: Naturisme
naturism in German: Freikörperkultur
naturism in Spanish: Naturismo
naturism in Esperanto: Nudismo
naturism in Persian: برهنه‌گرایی
naturism in French: Naturisme
naturism in Galician: Naturismo
naturism in Italian: Naturismo
naturism in Hebrew: נודיזם
naturism in Hungarian: Naturizmus
naturism in Dutch: Naturisme
naturism in Japanese: ヌーディズム
naturism in Norwegian: Naturisme
naturism in Polish: Naturyzm
naturism in Portuguese: Naturismo
naturism in Romanian: Nudism
naturism in Russian: Натуризм
naturism in Slovak: Nudizmus
naturism in Slovenian: Naturizem
naturism in Serbian: Натуризам
naturism in Finnish: Nudismi
naturism in Swedish: Naturism
naturism in Chinese: 天然主義
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