Naturism, or nudism, is a cultural movement practising, advocating, and defending personal and social nudity, most but not all of which takes place on private property. The term also refers to a lifestyle based on personal, family, or social nudity.[1] Naturism may be practised individually, within a family or social context, or in public.

Definition and lexicology

The XIV Congress of the International Naturist Federation (Agde, France, 1974) defined naturism as:

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 for the environment.[2]

Several other terms (including "social nudity", "public nudity", "skinny dipping", "sunning", and "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".

Many contemporary naturists and naturist organisations feel that the practice of social nudity should be asexual. For various social, cultural, and historical reasons, the lay public, the media, and many contemporary naturists and their organisations often oversimplify the relationship between naturism and sexuality. Current research has begun to explore this complex relationship.[3]

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][lower-alpha 1]

The usage and definition of these terms varies geographically and historically.[lower-alpha 2] Naturism and nudism have the same meaning in the United States,[5] but there is a clear distinction between the two terms in Great Britain.[lower-alpha 3]

In naturist parlance, the terms "textile" or "textilist" refer to non-naturist persons, behaviours or 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 with "textile", but no dictionary definition to this effect exists, nor are there any equivalent examples of use in mainstream literature such as those for textile.[7] In the U.S., the terms "clothing optional" and "nude optional" describe policies or venues that allow or encourage nudity but tolerate the wearing of clothes. The opposite term is "clothing compulsory"—that is, prohibiting nudity. The adjectival phrases "clothes free" and "clothing free" describe environments where naturism is permitted in an otherwise textile environment.

The social nudity movement includes a large range of variants, including "naturism", "nudism", "Freikörperkultur (FKK)", and the "free beach movement" as well as generalized "public lands/public nudity" advocacy.

Social naturism

Naturist facilities

At naturist organised events or venues, clothing is usually optional. At naturist swimming pools or sunbathing places, however, complete nudity is expected (weather permitting). This rule is sometimes a source of controversy among naturists. Staff at a naturist facility are usually required to be clothed due to health and safety regulations.[8]

Facilities for naturists are classified in various ways. A landed or members' naturist club is one that owns its own facilities. Non-landed (or travel) clubs meet at various locations, such as private residences, swimming pools, hot springs, landed clubs and resorts, or 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.[9]

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.

A holiday centre is a facility that specializes in providing apartments, chalets and camping pitches for visiting holidaymakers. A 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, to be a member of their national organization), but some have relaxed this requirement, relying on the carrying of a trade card. Holiday centers vary in size.[lower-alpha 4] Larger holiday centres may have swimming pools, sports pitches, an entertainment program, kids' clubs, restaurants and supermarkets. Some holiday centres allow regular visitors to purchase their own chalets, and generations of the same families may visit each year.[5] Holiday centres are more tolerant of clothing than members-only clubs; total nudity is usually compulsory 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.[5]

A naturist resort is, to a European, an essentially urban development where naturism is the norm. Cap d'Agde in France; the naturist village of Charco del Palo on Lanzarote, Canary Islands; Vera Playa in Spain;[10] and Vritomartis[11] in Greece are examples.

In US usage, a naturist resort can mean a holiday centre.[12]

Freikörperkultur (FKK)--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

In some European countries, such as Denmark,[13] all beaches are clothing optional, while in others like Germany and experimentally in France,[14] there are naturist sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., in Munich[15] and Berlin.[16] Beaches in some holiday destinations, such as Crete, are also clothing-optional, except some central urban beaches.[17] There are two centrally located clothes-optional beaches in Barcelona.[18] Sweden allows nudity on all beaches.[19]

In a survey by The Daily Telegraph, Germans and Austrians were most likely to have visited a nude beach (28%), followed by Norwegians (18%), Spaniards (17%), Australians (17%), and New Zealanders (16%). Of the nationalities surveyed, the Japanese (2%) were the least likely to have visited a nude beach.[20] This result may indicate the lack of nude beaches in Japan; however, the Japanese are open with regard to family bathing nude at home and at onsen (hot springs).[21]

Naturism and sports

World Naked Bike Ride

The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international clothing-optional bike ride and exercise in public nudity, that has developed outside the organised naturism movement. 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".[22]

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 attendees spontaneously chose to remove their clothing,[23] preferring complete or partial nudity.[24]

Roskilde festival in Denmark hosts a naked run that has become one of the most popular events there.

Perhaps the biggest and most famous modern festival where participants spontaneously decide to go naked or take part in nude events is Burning Man, which features a naked bike ride known as the "Naked Pub Crawl".

A few camps organize activities in the nude, including the famous[25] oil wrestling by camp Gymnasium.[26]

Florida Young Naturists[27] has organized seasonal "bashes" hosted by several Florida nudist/naturist clubs and resorts since 2008.

Organized by the Federación Nudista de México (Mexican Nudist Federation)[28] since 2016 when Zipolite beach nudity was legalized,[29] FESTIVAL NUDISTA ZIPOLITE[28] occurs annually on the first weekend of February.

Nudist festivals are held to celebrate particular days of the year, and in many such events nude bodypainting is also common, such as Neptune Day Festival held in Koktebel, Crimea to depict mythological events.[31][32]

Summer naturism

The prevalence of naturism tends to increase during the summer months especially when the temperature is higher with some regions experiencing first-time naturists and people who have transitioned to becoming a naturist.[33] Some studies have observed that among some of these naturists, they are clothed during other seasons, thus making them seasonal naturists.[34] This quiddity has caught the public perception and comprehension of public nudity, and thus it is frequently equated with summer destinations such as beaches.[35]


Nudity in social contexts has been practised in various forms by many cultures at all time periods.[36] In modern Western society, 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 until now, nudity is a norm at many sports events and competitions.[37]

It is difficult to nominate exactly when naturism started as a movement. 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 hygiène de vie or healthy living.[lower-alpha 5]

The earliest known naturist club in the "western" sense of the word was established in British India in 1891. The 'Fellowship of the Naked Trust' was founded by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, a widower, who was a District and Sessions Judge for the Bombay Civil Service. The commune was based in Matheran and had just three members at the beginning; Crawford and two sons of an Anglican missionary, Andrew and Kellogg Calderwood.[lower-alpha 6] The commune fell apart when Crawford was transferred to Ratnagiri; he died soon after in 1894.[40]

In 1902, a series of philosophical papers was published in Germany by Dr. Heinrich Pudor, under the pseudonym Heinrich Scham, who coined the term Nacktkultur. In 1906 he went on to write a three volume treatise with his new term as its title, which discussed the benefits of nudity in co-education and advocated participating in sports while being free of cumbersome clothing.[41] 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.[41] Major promoters of these ideas included Adolf Koch and Hans Suren. Germany published the first journal of nudism between 1902 and 1932.[42]

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 organized club for nudists on a large scale, Freilichtpark (Free-Light Park), was opened near Hamburg in 1903 by Paul Zimmerman.[41] In 1919, German doctor Kurt Huldschinsky discovered that exposure to sunlight helped to cure rickets in many children, causing sunlight to be associated with improved health.[43]

In France in the early 20th century, the brothers Gaston and André Durville, both of them physicians, studied the effects of psychology, nutrition, and environment on health and healing. They became convinced of the importance of natural foods and the natural environment on human well-being and health. They named this concept French: naturisme. The profound effect of clean air and sunlight on human bodies became evident to them and so nudity became a part of their naturism.

Naturism became a more widespread phenomenon in the 1920s, in Germany, the United Kingdom, France and other European countries and spread to the United States where it became established in the 1930s.

By 1951, the national federations united to form the International Naturist Federation or INF.[8] Some naturists preferred not to join clubs, and after 1945, pressure was put to designate beaches for naturist use. 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.[41]


Naturism had many different philosophical sources and means many things to different people.[44] There is no one definition. In 1974, the INF defined naturism as "a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of social nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment".[2]

Ethical Naturism vs Recreational Naturism

Ethical Naturism vs Recreational Naturism is a concept first introduced by Stéphane Deschênes in the April 2011 episode of The Naturist Living Show Podcast.[45] which attempts to create a taxonomy that classifies the various types of naturists/nudists.[46] Ethical Naturists are described as seeing themselves as part of a philosophy with ethical and moral aspects while recreational nudists are simply participating in a leisure activity that involves nudity.[47]

Naturist writers

  • Heinrich Pudor wrote on methods to improve social hygiene in his book Nackende Menschen und Jauchzen der Zukunft (Naked people and the future of Mankind) and then Nacktkultur (Nude Culture). It prescribes an austere lifestyle and nudity.[48]
  • Paul Zimmermann opened the Freilicht Park in Lübeck which was open to those who subscribed to Nacktkultur principles.[48]
  • Richard Ungewitter wrote Die Nacktheit (Nakedness) which sold 90,000 copies, prescribed a similar Utopian lifestyle, where everyone would be nude, eat only vegetables and abstain from alcohol and tobacco. In his Utopia, everyone was to be Germanic with blue eyes and blonde hair.[48]
  • Adolf Koch, a left-wing primary-school teacher, sought to use social nudity to free the people from 'authority fixated conditioning which held proletarians in deference of their masters: parental authority, paternalism of the church, the mass media and organs of law and order. He used Organic-Rhythmic exercises in Berlin schools in the 1920s. In 1932 there were about 100,000 Germans involved with Naturism, of which 70,000 were in Koch's Körperschülen schools.[48]
  • Hans Surén taught nude gymnastics to soldiers for five years, and on being forced to leave the army, he wrote in 1924, Mensch und die Sonne (Men and the Sun) which ran to 61 reprints.[48]
  • Werner Zimmermann was Swiss. He promoted Progressive education, encouraging naked Physical education to eliminate body guilt and to encourage openness that would lift the repression of the human spirit, which he saw as the cause of sexual deviation. The basic position was that the human body, in and of itself, was neither sinful nor obscene. This was adopted into the emerging philosophy that created the modern Western nudist movement.

Naturist ideals

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. Reasons that have at times been given:

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.[49]

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.[49]

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 reveling freely in physical sensations and direct experiences and a spontaneous approach to life.[50]

Naturism for health

Sunlight has been shown to be beneficial in some skin conditions and enables the body to make vitamin D,[51] but with the increased awareness of skin cancer, wearing of sunscreen is now part of the culture.[51] Sun exposure prompts the body to produce nitric oxide that helps support the cardiovascular system and the neurotransmitter serotonin.[52][53]

There are also documented psychological benefits of naturist activities including greater life satisfaction, more positive body image, and higher self-esteem.[54] Social nudity leads to acceptance in spite of differences in age, body shape, fitness, and health.[55]


Certain cultural or religious traditions include ritual nudity.

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 Gymnosophists were Hindus.

Historically, the Adamites, a Gnostic sect, practiced religious nudism.

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.[56]


  • In 1999, the Federation of Canadian Naturists commissioned a national survey on Canadian attitudes towards nudity[57] which found that 8.9% of Canadian have visited or would visit a naturist facility. A further 11.6% have gone or would go skinny dipping in mixed company; that 39% go naked in their own homes; that naturists tend to have above average incomes; that urban dwellers are more likely to be naturist than country dwellers; and that the under 25s are the most likely to be naturists.
  • In 1983, the Naturist Society in the United States sponsored a Gallup poll, which was repeated in 2000,[48] which found the following:
USA: 1983/2000 Gallup poll
Year 1983 2000
Question YesNo YesNo
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? 7224 8017
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? 3954 4848
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? 1583 2573
  • In 2005 the British CCBN commissioned a survey of members,[58] which found that, among British people:

How we (British people) discovered naturism:
Beach abroad29%
Beach in UK20%
The Web3%
H&E magazine3%
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%

In Europe

In most European countries, nudity is not explicitly forbidden. Whether it is tolerated on beaches which are not marked as official nudist beaches varies greatly. The only country with substantially different laws is Denmark, where beach nudity is explicitly allowed on all beaches, except for two in the far west of the country.


Croatia is world-famous for naturism, which accounts for about 15% of its tourism industry. It was also the first European country to develop commercial naturist resorts.[59] During a 1936 Adriatic cruise, King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson stopped at a beach on the island of Rab where King Edward obtained a special permission from the local government to swim naked, thereby designating it the world's first official nude beach.[60]


In Finnish culture, nudism is considered to be a relatively normal way to live. It is not uncommon to see entire families spending time together naked. Families may be naked while bathing in a sauna, swimming in a pool, or playing on a beach, and it's not unusual to see children playing naked in a family yard for example. Nudity as a whole is considered less taboo than many other countries.[61][62][63][64][65]


Marcel Kienné de Mongeot is credited with starting naturism in France in 1920. 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. The court action that he initiated, established that nudism was legal on private property that was fenced and screened.[8]

Drs. André and Gaston Durville bought a 70 hectare site on the Île du Levant where they established the village of Héliopolis. The village was open to the public. In 1925 Dr François Fougerat de David de Lastours wrote a thesis on heliotherapy. and in that year opened the Club gymnique de France. In 1936, the naturist movement was officially recognised.[8]

Albert and Christine Lecocq were active members of many of these clubs, but after disagreements left and In 1944 Albert and Christine Lecocq founded the Club du Soleil with members in 84 cities. In 1948 they founded the FFN, in 1949 they started the magazine, Vie au Soleil and in 1950 opened the CHM Montalivet, the world's first naturist holiday centre where the INF was formed.[8]


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.[48]

Nacktkultur, a term coined in 1903 by Heinrich Pudor, flourished.[66] Nacktkultur connected nudity, vegetarianism and social reform. It was practised in a network of 200 members clubs. The movement gained prominence in the 1920s as offering a health giving life-style with Utopian ideals. Germany published the first naturist journal between 1902 and 1932.[42] It became politicised by radical socialists who believed it would lead to classlessness and a breaking down of society. It became associated with pacificism.[67]

In 1926, Adolf Koch established a school of naturism in Berlin; encouraging a mixing of the sexes, open air exercises, and a programme of "sexual hygiene". In 1929, the Berlin school hosted the first International Congress on Nudity.[66]

After the war, East Germans were free to practice naturism, chiefly at beaches rather than clubs (private organizations being regarded as potentially subversive). Naturism became a large element in DDR politics. The Proletarische Freikörperkulturbewegung subsection of the Workers Sports Organisation had 60,000 members.[48] Today, following reunification there are many clubs, parks and beaches open to naturists.[1] though nudity has become less common in the former eastern zone.[68] Germans are typically the most commonly seen foreigners at nude beaches in France and around Europe.[69]


Public nudity is prohibited in Greece and there are no official nude beaches.[70][71] There are, however, numerous unofficial nude beaches especially on the islands frequented by tourists, like Crete,[72] Mykonos or Karpathos but also on smaller islands like Skopelos or Skiathos[73] where nudity is tolerated, usually at the more remote ends or secluded areas of beaches.[74]

On the other hand, toplessness is not illegal and is widely practiced by locals and tourists alike as there are no cultural taboos against it.[75][76]


Public nudity is generally prohibited in Italy as a civil offence and can be punished with high fines,[77] with the exception of the official naturist beaches and places where's a tradition of naturist attendance, as shown by a recent absolution sentence.[78] Furthermore, in the recent decade, some regions have created laws to help the naturist tourism industry,[79] and actually there are twelve official naturist beaches in all Italy, where nudity is officially guaranteed by admnistrative acts. On all other public beaches in Italy, police can potentially impose substantial fines.[80]

On the other hand, female toplessness has been officially legalized (in a nonsexual context) in all public beaches and swimming pools throughout the country (unless otherwise specified by region, province or municipality by-laws) on 20 March 2000, when the Supreme Court of Cassation (through sentence No. 3557) has determined that the exposure of the nude female breast, after several decades, is now considered a "commonly accepted behavior", and therefore, has "entered into the social costume".[81]


In today's Poland naturism is practiced in number of the seaside and inland beaches. Most Polish beaches are actually clothing-optional rather than naturist. One such beach is Międzyzdroje-Lubiewo.[82]


The Federação Portuguesa de Naturismo (Portuguese Naturist Federation) or FPN was founded on the March 1st, 1977, at a meeting in Lisbon.[83]


Beginnings of naturism in Slovenia started in the year 1852, when a 29 year old Swiss physician Arnold Rikli visited Bled for the first time. In the following years he started to promote healthy way of living, because he considered water, air and light[84] to be the source for his healing therapy. He continued to build spa centers which included light therapy and hydrotherapy treatment.[85]


Public nudity in Spain is not illegal since there is no law banning its practice. Spanish legislation foresees felony for exhibitionism but restricts its scope to obscene exposure in front of children or mentally impaired individuals, i.e. with sexual connotation.[86]

There are, however, some municipalities (like San Pedro del Pinatar) where public nudity has been banned by means of by-laws. Other municipalities (like Barcelona, Salou, Platja de Palma and Sant Antoni de Portmany) have used similar provisions to regulate partial nudity, requiring people to cover their torsos on the streets. Some naturist associations have appealed these by-laws on the grounds that a fundamental right (freedom of expression, as they understand nudism to be self-expression) cannot be regulated with such a mechanism. Some courts have ruled in favour of nudist associations.[87][88]

Nudism in Spain is normally practised by the seaside, on beaches or small coves with a tradition of naturism. In Vera (Andalusia), there is a wide residential area formed by nudist urbanisations. Nudist organisations may organise some activities elsewhere in inner territory.[89]

Legal provisions regarding partial nudity (or toplessness) are analogous to those regarding full nudity, but social tolerance towards toplessness is higher. The law does not require women to cover their breasts in public swimming, or on any beach in Spain.[90] The governments of the municipalities of Galdakao and L'Ametlla del Vallès legalized female toplessness on their public pools in March 2016 and June 2018, respectively.[91][92]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the first official 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.[93][94]

By 1943 there were a number of these so-called "sun clubs" and together they formed the British Sun Bathers 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. In 1961, the BSBA Annual Conference agreed that the term nudist was inappropriate and should be discarded in favour of naturist.[93] The two organisations rivalled each other 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.[93]

The first official nude 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.[93]

In North America


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.[9] The most significant clubs were the Van Tan Club, formed in 1939, and continues today in North Vancouver, BC.,[9] 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.[9]

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.[9]

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).[9]


Federación Nudista de México[95] is a members organization with both individual and organization members. It promotes social nudity in Mexico, and it is recognized by the International Naturist Federation as the official national naturist organization in that country.

As of 2016, Playa Zipolite is Mexico's first and only legal public nude beach.[96] A "free beach" and unofficially nudist for more than 50 years,[97] this beach is reputed to be the best place for nudism in the country. The numerous nude sunbathers, and the long tradition, make it safe for nudism and naturism. Annually since 2016, on the first weekend of February, Zipolite has hosted Festival Nudista Zipolite[98] that in 2019 attracted 7,000-8,000 visitors.[99]

United States

Kurt Barthel founded the American League for Physical Culture in 1929 and organized the first nudist event. In about 1930 they organized the American Gymnosophical Association. Barthel founded America's first official nudist camp, Sky Farm in New Jersey, in May, 1932.[100] Around 1932, AGA established the Rock Lodge Club as a nudist facility in Stockholm, New Jersey and Ilsley Boone, a Dutch Reformed minister, formed the Christian naturism movement. Naturism began expanding nationwide.[101][102][103][104] Nudism venues were teetotal until 1970.[105]

The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) is the national naturist organization. Arnd Krüger compared nudists in Germany and the United States and came to the conclusion that in Germany the racial aspects (Zuchtwahl) were important for the breakthrough (e.g. the Commanding General of the Army served as patron for nudists events), while in the U.S. nudism was far more commercial and had thus more difficulties.[106]

In 2008, a young adults group organized as Florida Young Naturists[27] held their first Naked Bash which has since been repeated 3-4 times a year, growing into one of the largest young naturist gatherings in the world.[107]

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, occurring on July 11 of that year.[108]

In 2010, a new organization formed called Young Naturists and Nudists America which was mostly focused around the younger generation as well as social issues, such as body image.[109] Young Naturists and Nudists America closed in 2017.[110]

In 2014, an organization called Unconstitutional Arkansas was created to highlight the unconstitutionality of laws that prohibit or impede nudism. The organization uses Arkansas law § 5-68-204 as a case study, but claims all anti-nudism laws infringe the constitutional right to assemble.[111]

In Asia


In the seventies, nudity on Bali's remote and deserted beaches was common but with the massive growth of tourism, this practice has disappeared. In 2002, nudity was declared illegal on Petitenget Beach, the last beach in Seminyak that tolerated discreet nudity. Individuals began to practice nudity in private villas and resorts. Laki Uma Villa, the first naturist facility to open, was for gay men only. Bali au Naturel, the first adult-only nudist resort for both genders, opened its doors in 2004. It subsequently expanded from 3 to 15 rooms and added from two more swimming pools.[112]


Nudism was successfully introduced in 2012 by The Thailand Naturist Association in Pattaya (Chan Resort), and six more nudist resorts have been created all over Thailand. Barefeet Resort in Bangkok, Lemon Tree in Phuket, Oriental Village in Chiangmai, Phuan Naturist Village in Huay Yai, and Peace Blue Naturist resort in Phukett all members of the Naturist Association of Thailand as well as other international naturist organizations.[113]

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. Descamps assembled 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.[8]

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. 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]

Glenn Smith states, "The main reason younger people are not becoming naturists is the inability of modern naturism to engage with the issue of sexuality. While it is true that "naturism became popular in a healthy outdoor lifestyle", this lifestyle also included a recognition that, socially, nudity could sometimes be erotic. It was only when naturism arrived in a more sexually conservative Britain that sexual feelings were censored out to make naturism culturally acceptable.[3] This statement is in response to the quote "The world of naturism is in trouble. Membership is falling, and fewer young people than ever are getting involved. Has the great nude adventure run its course?"[114]

Smith and King pose the further points in their 2009 peer reviewed paper Naturism and Sexuality:broadening our approach to sexual wellbeing.[3]

Issues for the naturist community

Many countries and states have laws which adversely affect naturists. Oftentimes, these laws are intended to address "indecent exposure", but are so broadly written that they criminalize ordinary, non-sexual nudity. Some laws, however, specifically target naturism. For example, in Arkansas in the United States, not only is nudism illegal (even on private property), it is a crime to "promote" or "advocate" (i.e. express a favourable opinion about) nudism.[111]

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 club isolation: established clubs excluding new members and rejecting new ideas.[8]
  • Paid staff and volunteers: many clubs were established as cooperatives, but the values change when a few members put in the capital or work needed.[9] This became more difficult when some members were paid to act as site managers.[8]
  • Infiltration by other groups: for many years clubs had strict "No singles" policies to maintain the family nature of the club.[8]
  • Exhibitionists and voyeurs: as unwelcome in a naturist community as in a clothed community.[115]
  • Large numbers of clothed people visit clothing optional and nudist beaches and make the naturists feel uncomfortable, "like they've become a spectacle".[116][117][118]
  • An issue, a decade ago in naturist resorts like Cap d'Agde has been the clash between "fundamentalist" naturists and the échangistes who are sexually open on the naturist beaches and bars.[119]


Magazines published by, for or purportedly about naturists can be grouped:

  • Magazines published by an "official" national organisation, such as BN (British Naturism), Going Natural/Au naturel (FCN/FQN), Nude & Natural Magazine TNS, gonatural (New Zealand Naturist Federation).
  • Independent magazines published for naturists, such as Naturally, H&E naturist and TAN (acronym of The Australian Naturist).
  • Magazines that print photographs only or primarily of young female professional models, which are disapproved of by many naturists and non-naturists alike.

Magazines in the second and, occasionally, third grouping feature naturist editorial and advertising, while some naturists argue over which magazines belonged in which of these categories – these views may change as publishers and editors change. Many clubs and groups have benefitted from magazines which, while not exclusively or even predominantly naturist in character, made naturist information available to many who would not otherwise have been aware of it.[9] (These days, the information and advertising provided online, and the wide availability of free online porn, has meant the disappearance of old-style 'skin' magazines presenting significant glamour content masquerading as or alongside naturist content. Naturist magazines have to appeal strongly to naturists to succeed – they cannot sit on the fence between naturism and glamour.) Some naturists still feel that the worthwhile editorial content in some magazines is not a fair balance for the disapproved-of photographic content.[9]

Photography, films and videos

Some naturist clubs have been willing to allow filming by the media on their grounds, though content that proved not to be of genuine naturism can end up being parodied by the media as the norm.[120]

Some commercial 'naturist' DVDs are dominated by imagery of naked children. Such material can be marketed in ways that appear to appeal directly to paedophile inclinations, and ownership of these DVDs (and their earlier video cassette incarnations) has resulted in successful British prosecutions for possession of indecent images of children.[121][122][123] One case was appealed, unsuccessfully, to the European Court of Human Rights.[124] The precedents set by the court cases mean that possession in Britain of any naturist image of a child is, potentially, grounds for prosecution.

Photo shoots, including major high-profile works by Spencer Tunick, are done on public places including beaches.[lower-alpha 7]

See also


  1. The Hannover based Bund für freies Lebensgestaltung 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".
  2. In his book, Cinema Au Naturel,[4] 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".
  3. The English version of the Agde definition was translated differently in Guide Mondial de Naturisme 96 97.[6] 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.
  4. The three biggest centres on the Médoc are Euronat 335 ha, CHM 175 ha with a 3 km beach, and La Jenny 127 ha
  5. "Le naturisme est la doctrine qui consiste à laisser agir la nature plutot que d'intervenir de manière artificielle".[38]
  6. Crawford wrote a series of letters discussing his new club and its philosophy to the socialist Edward Carpenter between 1891 and 1892. In his letters to Carpenter, Crawford described his daily activities.
    "Calderwood and I were up at Matheran having two days’ holiday to spend naked from breakfast to evening [...] in June, Calderwood and I had a grand day. We went away to a bungalow in the Tulsi Lake without servants and spent from dinner time Saturday till 5 pm Sunday in nature’s garb".
    The club's dress code required full nudity, with exceptions made for accessories such as rings and glasses. Members of the club had to be plainspoken about sexual related matters and all taboos were consciously discarded. Carpenter suggested that a female branch should be added to the commune, although this was not achieved.[39]
  7. Photography in public nude beaches Nudists who visit public nude beaches may be photographed by street photographers, social documentary photographers, photojournalists or other kinds of photographers without the nudists' knowledge and in the United States and most democratic countries the photographers have the law on their side as no individual has an expectation of privacy in a public place and photographers are not required to have the naturists' consent before photographing them or publishing and selling the pictures or videos.[125] In many countries there exist private nudist areas in which photography is not allowed and naturists who wish to not be photographed can enjoy their activities there. However, naturists who wish to not be photographed in public nude beaches have found various ways to make the photographers leave the beach, such as photographing the photographer and publishing such photos. Some nude beaches provide fences that block the view from nearby streets.[126]


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Journal articles

Newspaper articles


A bibliography of the economic impacts of naturism

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