Many naturists and clothes-free lifers are at home or working from home, during the Covid pandemic. This lifestyle is not a disappointment for those who are used to living nude, but for those accustomed to taking nude vacations over the next 3-6 months it is a frustration, as it would be for anyone who likes to travel. The nude-living-at-home lifestyle however, is much more common than may be assumed because research strongly supports this conclusion. With an estimate from travel statistics of there being 35+ million registered or publicly declared naturists/nudists worldwide in over 130 countries (see http://www.inf.org), it is an easy step to infer that a much bigger number of naturists exists generally. Beyond these followers of the lifestyle, the odds are also that many more non-nudists or ‘textiles’ practice in fact, nude living either full or part-time because of privacy availability.
The National Survey on Canadian Attitudes Towards Nudity (1999) found that about 6.1 million people “have some interest in naturism”, and that 1. “people in 39% of Canadian households (11.8 million people) have walked or would walk around the house nude”; 2. “people in 59% of Canadian households (17.9 million people) have slept or would sleep nude”, and 3. “the more people in the household, the more likely people sleep nude.” In the FCN’s Canadian Guide to Naturism (2000), edited by David Basford, Stephane Deschenes and Paul Rapoport, Deschenes makes the point that “The survey generated 30-40 media stories from coast to coast, almost all informative and serious. Naturism is no longer the subject of jokes in the media, and the term itself is finally getting firmly established in the minds of the general public. As an organized activity or a simple personal interest, it is far more popular than nearly anyone would expect.” (the survey report is available on the web at http://www.fcn.ca/report-e.pdf)
Nude living research has also shown at least these benefits:
1. fewer deleterious bacteria and viruses (e.g., Covid-19) staying on the body, than otherwise through the wearing of clothes
2. fewer couple divorces and separations
3. more children growing up with healthier psycho-social sexuality adjustment than in textile environments, due in part to socialization with other families in resort and free beach communities where mature body norms are experienced at an early age
4. more exposure to Vitamin D
5. opportunities with like-minded people that reinforce a sense of community and all its benefits (self validation, friendship bonds, diversity tolerance, mutual support, engagement opportunities in sports and recreation, festive events, etc.)
6. learning body acceptance (of all types of bodies)
7. opportunites for learning or engaging in, leadership and group process
8. it is therapeutic, by challenging sexual fears, sexual ignorance, body shame, genitalia phobia, problems of sexual dysfunction and low self-esteem, and reinforces stress release and the importance of touch
9. it captures the vital experience of interactions with the natural environment…sun, rain, soil, and wind
In her famous book Therapy, Nudity & Joy, Dr. Aileen Goodson expatiates the benefits of nudity and calls upon “inquiring young therapists, psyhologists, sociologists and sexologists” and “various professional societies, licensing boards, and mental health boards” to “review radical new programs involving the therapeutic uses of nudity.” (p. 352) I successfully used this text in my 2nd-year course The Sociology of Deviance, at Lakehead University, in 1995.
In 1989, I was invited to conduct a 2-day weekend workshop for about 40 American naturist club owners at Cypress Cove Resort, Florida. In this course, I stressed the mental and physical health benefits of naturism, and of the importance for resort owners to structure their environments and member activities that would enhance the benefits. This included playgrounds for children and inside activities for seniors, e.g., library, table games, as well as the usual swimming pool, jacuzzi, shuffleboard, hiking, beach and tennis activities, etc., for all members and visitors. I was also interviewed in person on CBC Radio’s ‘Peter Gzoski’s Morning Show, by Peter, in Thunder Bay, in 1997, in which I talked about my university course containing sections on naturism/nudism, and nudity benefits, women’s newly gained right to go topless in public in Ontario, and general legal issues surrounding naturism in North America and Europe. This interview generated many calls to the station, the vast majority positive and seeking further information.
The age-old adage that “we’re born nude, so why can’t we live nude” is fraught in more modern times (say, post-2,000 BCE) with objections from religious zealots and religious institutions, socio-political moralists, patriarchs, misogynists, oligarchs, demagogues, and contrarian sects and cults with confirmation bias (sticking to one’s beliefs in the face of compelling contrary evidence). The naturist/nudist movement arose out of Germany in the late 1800s as a backlash against urban pollution diseases that it caused, i.e., tuberculosis. Since those early days of ‘recovery hospitals’ built in the Bavarian mountains, hospitals which treated patients by having them lay nude in cots outside in the sun, and the very old Finnish practice of nude family saunas for health, to contemporary nude living, naturist resorts, and recreation (e.g., nude hiking and nude cruises) – nude body acceptance has come a long way.
Finally, a reminder by Jason Loam in his text Body/Self Appreciation (1987), that “Our self-image is vitally affected by our attitude toward our own nakedness. If we feel ashamed of our bodies or feel we do not look good, those emotions will inhibit our sexual expression and reduce our self-esteem…From early childhood, many of us are taught to cover our bodies. We are told that nakedness is ‘shameful’ and even ‘lewd’. Some people expect those ideas without question. But today, many are challenging such conclusions and are searching for a more realistic approach to the bodies we all must accept before we can love ourselves.” (Preface)
Body health and body acceptance are inextricably woven together, and the fabric created by this symbiotic relationship goes a long way in establishing who and how accepting we are, as social beings. During this pandemic time, our Covid health is front and centre, and although our social circles have become very limited, belief in one’s natural self to heal is important.
Jason Loam, Project Director, Body/Self Appreciation (1987), Sensate Media Service [Elysium Press], Los Angeles
D. Basford, S. Deschenes, and P. Rapoport, eds., (2000) The Canadian Guide to Naturism, Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) http://www.FCN.ca
Dr. Aileen Goodson, Therapy, Nudity & Joy, (1991), Elysium Press, Los Angeles
Dr. Terry Hill, “Nude to Cloistered and Now: Topless”, (May 31, 1997) Chronicle-Journal, Thunder Bay
Dr. Terry Hill, mentioned in “The bottom line here is that Canada should ride the nudist-travel wave” , by Victor Janoff (1988). VISTA Magazine, Toronto
Dr. Terry Hill, “The Medicalization of Women’s Health”, Going Natural (1995), p. 16, FCN
Dr. Terry Hill, “Respectable Nudity: The Essence of Naturism”, Going Natural (1991), p. 10, FCN
Dr. Terry Hill, “And now a word from our President”, Going Natural (1988), p. 10, FCN
Dr. Terry Hill, “Neither a Crime nor a Sin”, Going Natural (1989), p. 12, FCN
Dr. Terry Hill, “Epidemis Academia: or, Naturism Goes to College”, Going Natural (1986), p. 6, FCN
Dr. Terry Hill, “Bras Cause Breast Cancer – results of a recent study”, Going Natural (1996), p. 11, FCN
Marc-Alain Descamps, Vivre Nu: Psychosociologie Du Naturism, (1987), Editions Trismegist, Paris
Paul Adelman, Beyond Nakedness, (1985), Elysium Press, Los Angeles
Dr. James Woycke, Au Naturel: The History of Nudism in Canada, (2003), The Federation of Canadian Naturists and Anecdote Productions, Toronto
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression, (199), Routledge, New York
P. Mellor and C. Shilling, Re-Forming the Body: Religion, Community and Modernity, (1997), Sage Publications, Londonmake the most of your stay at home adopt naturist health routine