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THE HISTORY OF NUDISM

The history of nudism goes back many centuries. I will try to touch lightly on some of the time lines and other significant factors. It will be an overview of the renewal of social nudity during the times of the early Greeks to modern European and American cultures.

In the early times before Judeo-Christian-Moslem concepts were brought about, most of the tropical and temperate climates of the world were nothing more than one big nudist colony. The Greeks and Romans lived in a society of "clothing when necessary", frame of mind. Bathing, as well as sports, was enjoyed in the nude, as witnessed by the early olympic games in Greece. The term Gymnos, Greek for naked, was how these athletes competed. They also trained nude in their respective sports. With the demise of the ancient civilizations and the beginning of a religion that stressed the sinfulness of sensuality, nudism was on the decline. Body shame was on the rise.

A 16th century Christian group of Puritans strongly opposed the religious tolerance of the Church of England. With their exile to New England, they became the non pleasure, morality enforcing people associated with puritanism. They were so afraid of the lust that they refrained from bathing, because in their eyes, it promoted nudity. Many religions that are outraged at nudity avoid the fact that Jesus was naked at his baptism.

In Europe, the Renaissance period had risen the awareness of body acceptance in the field of art. As the Renaissance progressed, America remained in a mindset of religiously reinforced ideas that would dictate cultural morality for centuries. There were some so called, "radical thinkers", including Henry David Thoreau and Benjamin Franklin. They found benefits in their daily naked walks, or as they were called, "air baths", but they were in the minority.

By the turn of the twentieth century, mainland England was far more advanced and tolerant of the nude body than the Unites States. Many classic works of art considered masterpieces in England, were banned in the United States. One such work of art was "September Morn", a painting of a nude bather. This work was banned by The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and its leader, Anthony Comstock.

While the U.S. was banning art work of naked bathers, the first nudists were freeing themselves of Victorian era prudence and bathing naked in Lubeck, Germany at Freilichtpark (free light park). (1903-1981). They stressed a healthy naked lifestyle. It included daily exercise, a spartan like outdoor living, and vegetarian diets. By 1929, immigrant Germans and visiting Germans brought this lifestyle to America. After some arrests, there was a favorable court ruling in New York allowing social nudity between men and women, without being lewd. For the first time in America, the concept of social nudism got national attention.

The National Nudist Conference was formed in America in 1933. It later became the American Sunbathing Association. By the mid 1930's there were approximately eighty nudist camps across America. Most of these nudist camps still followed the philosophy of nudism as a healthy regiment. Many organized, "landed clubs", were very selective of who could become members.

The rebellious outspoken flower children of the 1960's were not about to hide the open acceptance of nudity. The new free spirit of, "make love not war", attitude was based on an honest body acceptance. The only question was, why not be open about it. Acceptance of the nude body was the natural attitude of this generation. They experienced the freedom of being nude at the beach and in streams, as well as at home. Sometimes called "The Free Beach Movement", the 1970 philosophy of open nudism would later be coined Naturism.

Because of the overbearing religious beliefs in America, Europeans have enjoyed more personal freedoms than Americans. For many years European tourist beaches have enjoyed a topree environment for women. Nude beaches are not uncommon in many parts of Europe.

Modern nudism began in Germany and France. A nudist resort city on the Mediterranean, Cap d' Agde, now exists in France. Nudity in general has become acceptable in Denmark and The Netherlands. There have been many public nudist activities in both countries. All but two of Denmark's beaches are clothing optional.

The Naturist Society was formed in America to provide information and support for naturist and nudist groups in the country. The Naturist Action Committee is a monitoring and support group that supports the rights of nudists and naturists nationwide. One of its goals is to protect our rights from the closed and narrow minded fanatics that do not understand the theory of our lifestyle.

Nationwide opinion polls taken in the years of 1983 and 1990 show that 72% of Americans polled approve of designated clothing optional beaches. To this date, roughly 30 million Americans have had some form of mixed social nudity. Other polls show that some 73% of Americans have skinny dipped with the opposite sex in their life.

The research and views within this document are that of the unknown author. If you have any corrections, additions, or would like to contribute, feel free to send it to me. Corrections and constructive criticism are always welcome.


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