"Naturism is a way of life
in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice
of communal nudity, with the intention of encouraging
respect for oneself, respect for others and for
Naturism is the practice of complete nudity in
a communal setting. While this may be its most
obvious definition, it is part of a much wider
context. The purpose of naturism is to promote
wholesomeness and stability of the human body
and mind. This comes most easily to those who
shed the psychological and social encumbrance
of clothing to see and respect the human body
as created. Naturism also promotes optimum health
through complete contact of the body with the
natural elements, e.g. sun, wind, air, water.
It is practised as much as possible in environments
free of the pollutants and stressful components
of modern society. It is therefore associated
with an enlightened, holistic approach to nutrition,
physical activity, mental functioning, and social
interaction. Naturism is founded on family participation.
Children in naturist families learn to appreciate
the body as part of their natural environment.
They grow up with healthful concepts and accept
the physical nature of both sexes and all ages
without fear or shame of their own or others'
bodies. Nude living thus removes apprehensions
and barriers which have hindered communication
between people and appreciation of the environment.
It leads to healthier and more humane living:
richer and simpler, enlightened by joy and freedom.
Short history of naturism
Organized naturism was called Freikörperkultur
(Free body culture) in Germany, the country of
its origin. It first came onto the scene at the
beginning of the present century. It was a time
of awakening, of shedding stiff collars and the
accompanying values; there came a need for lightness,
air, a more natural style of living, as well as
less restrictive clothing. Neinrich Pudor's book
The Cult of the Nude appeared as a timely beacon.
By 1903, Freilichtpark (Free-Light Park), the
first known nudist club, was opened near Hamburg.
Shortly after that, Heinrich Ungewitter published
Die Nacktheit (Nakedness), a utopia of nude living.
It went through several reprints.
The naturist movement grew quickly and became
quite voluminous, with clusters of clubs close
to the big cities. However, when Hitler came to
power (1933), all organizations having nothing
to do with National Socialism were banned. Naturism
in Germany went underground, in much reduced numbers.
But by then the idea had caught on and had become
international in scope. Jumping to the present,
it is satisfying to see that naturist groups are
active in most of the countries around the world,
as individual as the places they inhabit: some
a little stern and austere, some rather low-profile,
some quite playful and flamboyant, and so on.
The hardiness of early nudism (no smoking or drinking,
vegetarianism, and compulsory calisthenics) has
given way to the somewhat freer way of being in
the late 20th century. Change is the big constant.
The general spirit in world naturism is one of
optimism and vitality. Some see the lifestyle
as a "secret weapon," a solid impediment to the
encroaching ills of the present.