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
Through traditional and empirical observations, a nudist likes more to lay in the sun, or play volleyball or go swimming, at a nudist resort or on a private property. A naturist in somewhat contradistinction, may do the same, but “Naturism is a way of life, in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intentioon of encouraging respect for oneself, for others, and for the environment” (Federation of Canadian Naturists [FCN.org] [INF.org])
Further, “As stated in this definition from the International Naturist Federation, naturism is the practice of complete nudity in a social setting. Though nudity is the most obvious aspect of naturism, it is part of a much wider context.
The purpose of naturism is to promote wholesomeness and stability of the human body, mind and spirit. These come easily to those who shed the psychlogical and social encumbrance of clothing, to see and respect the human body as created.
Naturism also promotes optimal health through complete contact of the body with the natural elements. It is practised as much as possible in an environment free of pollution and stress of modern society. It is therefore associated with an enlightened, holistic approach to nutrition, physical activity, mental health, 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 attitudes and accept the physical nature of both sexes and all ages withour fear or shame.
Nude living thus removes barriers to communication between people and fosters appreciation of the environment. It leads to healthier and more humane living, richer and simpler, enlightened by joy and freedom.” (FCN.org pamphlet)
Both nudists and naturists enjoy fewer divorces, fewer psychological difficulties, less body shame, a better self concept, a greater tolerance for diversity, and non-exploitation of the human body for profit or power.
See for example, Therapy, Nudity and Joy, by Aileen Goodson, PhD. Elysium Press.
https://i2.wp.com/zjuzdme.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Selection_614.jpg Nudism. Naturism. Is there a difference? I know that in most of the US of A the words are used interchangeably. Nudists or naturists? I also know that in Europe, for instance, the two words are used differently. Naturism appeared after nudism. I’ve been thinking about those two words recently. Thoughts on the difference. […]
Naturism is not:
- just sunbathing
- just visiting nudist clubs
- just going nude in or around the house
- just eating, washing and entertaining guests in the nude
- just camping, hiking, or canoeing in the nude
- just writing and talking about it.
Naturism is all of these things and more. It not only represents a value system shared by over 20 million people worldwide, it also represents a lifestyle, a way of life.
In more conservative Western societies such as Canada, England and the United States, naturism presents hurdles for those who embrace its gymnos philosophy – hurdles of public and private roles, image definition, balancing textile (clothed) and naturist behaviours, and of habitation arrangements regarding location, privacy and access.
As with other things people hold true or worthwhile, naturism is called upon to be defended or justified. Due to its basic value of body shamelessness, it is defended more frequently than believing in abortion, nuclear defense, or gay/lesbian rights. This is in part because strangers and even friends have never asked themselves: Are clothes necessary? Why? or, why must the moral majority prevail over this particularly primordial life ethos? What virtues has ‘civilised’ modern society gained over our ancient nude cultures to make our birth nakedness (as nature intended) now immoral, disgusting, lewd and to be hidden from view? What happened to those tens of thousands of years of body acceptance?
For some advocates today, naturism represents a kind of ‘social movement’, akin to Green Peace, Amnesty International, Pro-Choice, and so forth. It has several characteristics that help define it this way: 1. a defined philosophy, 2. a central political core (INF, FCN, INA), 3. active (several no deceased) protagonists (Erickson, Weinberg, Vais, Baxandall, Cunningham, Hill, Erlickmyer, Williams, Scheller), and 4. internal communication devices (INF Newsletter, Going Natural, ASA Bulletin, Australian H & E, Naturist Society N & N). It lacks however, several more defining aspects of a true movement: a) a shared and clearly defined set of strategies; b) effective charismatic and/or consistent leadership; c) a wide supportive economic base; d) unified human resources.
A ‘collective conscience’ across the world has never been achieved among naturists because:
- in several European countries (France, Denmark, Germany, Holland Bulgaria) it has not been necessary to coalesce because most practical naturist recreational needs have been met through protective by-laws or local ordinances;
- the sub-groups (ASA,BNS, INF, FCN, ANF, etc.) are fractured among themselves over issues of leadership, goals, and priorities;
- relatively few precedents in law have been won in most non-European countries (except Canada), through collective or cooperative efforts;
- there are great economic and inter-member organizational difficulties (travel costs, postage, exchange rates);
- many member groups and federations of naturists are too busy fighting issues at home to lend time and resources for INF (global body) objectives.
In these ways, naturism differs from religions, cults, clubs and international organizations.
Nonetheless, most naturists, politically active or not, perceive naturism as a lifestyle, not mere recreation or short-term sunbathing. They live nude as much as fences, by-laws, and neighbours will allow. This conscious choice sometimes forces naturists into the social role of ‘marginals, living in two worlds. Textile cultures enforce dress codes in most public places, whereas naturist (and nudist) resorts or communities enforce the opposite norm requiring nudity most of the time (weather and first-timers excluded). Naturists see nudity as a rational or logical lifestyle for beaches, cities, towns, or countryside, because body taboos, shame, modesty and over-sexualizing the body are psychologically damaging. Naturists stridently distinguish sexuality from sensuality in their groups, and social norms are created to control for harassment of any kind. Latent norms are so strong for example, that male erections are extremely rare, and if they do occur, a man is encouraged to sit down or cover himself until it subsides. They are not shamed, but helped to understand there is a time and place (naturists do not cease to sexual beings!). Research has shown children brought up in a naturist family or community, become much better adjusted psychologically than their textile counterparts. They would never pay money to go to a strip-bar, or to engage in viewing pornography.
Optimally, naturists can find enough at-home privacy that their lifestyle is minimally interfered with. Even the smallest of properties with properly erected fences, can protect their privacy rights. Suburbia presents the ‘toughest’ challenges however, to naturist living because of the proximity to the public. Solutions sometimes take the form of:
- telling your neighbours before you move in;
- joining a nearby club or group and curtailing your back-yard practices;
- moving to country property where you are completely out of view, and can install a lockable gate; (note: If you are private, but someone goes out of their way to see you, you are protected by law; also, in remote areas or parks the law protects you [Canada])
- move to nude communities that have apartments, condos, modular homes, for sale or rent, e.g., Cypress Cove, Cap d’Agde, and dozens more around the world.
In her famous book, Therapy, Nudity & Joy, Elysium Growth Press, 1991, Forward by Ashley Montagu, Dr. Aileen Goodson describes the therapeutic use of nudity through the ages from ancient ritual to modern psychology. The inner fly-leaf states:
“Therapy, Nudity & Joy is a brightly-written exploration of body-shame —– how it develops during infancy and childhood and later manifests in potentially debilitating problems such as guilt, loss of self-esteem, intimacy disorders and general stress symptoms. Author Aileen Goodson brings a fresh perspective to what she refers to as ‘an hysteria in our culture toward the natural unclothed body and its functions.”
Finally, a text endorsement is included as follows:
“This fascinating book is a ‘must read’ for parents who want their children to develop healthy attitudes and behaviors about their bodies and their sexuality. The ability to understand nudity and sexuality as separate, but sometimes compatible phenomena, will protect against sexual exploitation, guilt, and low self-esteem.”
- Loretta Haroian, PhD. Department Chair and Professor of Child and Adolescent Sexuality, The Institute for Advanced Study of Human sexuality, San Francisco, California
Naturism accepts wholeheartedly overweight or ultra-thin bodies, scarred bodies, young and old bodies, short and tall bodies, people with poor self-concept/body image problems, and black/white/all shades bodies. Naturists are poor, middle-class, wealthy, highly or not-so-highly educated, male/female/LGBT, physicians, supreme court judges, waitresses, pilots, truckers, hockey players, salespersons, Christians, yes…Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists/Humanists, and Hindu (I’ve met all of the above people described at resorts in Canada, US, England and France).
There are always risks associated with adopting a different lifestyle, naturism being no exception. The human body continues to be a formidable frontier for people bent on associating only carnal interpretations to social nudity. Women have gained the legal right in Ontario, and more recently in Montreal (February, 2016), to join men in being topless in public places. Equality rights and increased body acceptance are occurring, but disgust, patriarchy, shame, guilt, and exploitation are still associated with being totally or even partially nude. We have a long way to go. The media can be our best friends or our worst enemies in this quest.
“Naked is the best disguise” – Sherlock Holmes