A brief history of naturism
Societies in which nudity is normal at all times are now rare but prior to the impact of western civilisation they were common place in warm climates and there is even one notable example of a fully nude culture in a temperate zone. Conversely, societies with near total prohibitions of nudity are also rare. Social nudity is part of a long historical tradition. Recent Western and Islamic Civilisation stands almost alone, in the entire known history of humanity, in its repressive code against nudity.
Social and work place nudity was normal for many activities in classical Greek and Roman society, including among the early Christians. The accounts are numerous and detailed. Communal (and usually mixed-sex) bathing remained common (where bathing occurred at all!) until the 20th century, while the everyday circumstances of the majority of the population meant that nudity was a common sight in the home. In some areas this practical approach to the twin problems of poverty and summer heat led to indoor nudity being normal: even as late as the 17th century, travellers such as Coryat and Fynes Moryson found the Irish people: “prepared to receive visitors and even strangers indoors when completely unencumbered by clothing.”
Even in the Victorian era swimming nude in the sea and other places was commonplace, and this custom persisted away from major resorts and in inland waters as related by D H Lawrence and others. Few people realise that swim suits, as we know them today, are a relatively recent concept. The idea of needing special clothing to swim in is barely a century old. Bathing costumes prior to the 20th century were restricted to some of the upper classes.
The twentieth century initially saw the requirement to wear clothing for activities like swimming spread to all social classes. Following this popularisation, bathing suits for adults have steadily become briefer and briefer and often now cover so little that they serve little function except to draw attention to what they are supposed to be hiding. Conversely children have been expected to wear more and more as the century progressed. You are now more likely to see nude adults on a beach than nude children.
The 1920’s and 30’s saw the start of organised naturism in this country. In 1927 the Sunbathing Society was formed and the New Gymnosophy Society purchased land in Bricket Wood which is still in use today as a residential naturist centre. In 1929 the police were called in to protect naturists at the Welsh Harp from rioters. The police were rather embarrassed about it but the naturists were using the Welsh Harp with the permission of the owner. In 1932 a letter in ‘The Times’ called for proper recognition of the benefits of airbathing in ‘less than a bathing costume’. Signatories included George Bernard Shaw, Julian Huxley, Vera Britain and Professor Joad.
There has been a generally upward trend in both the practice and the acceptance of naturism since then, particularly in the last few decades. This has continued despite intermittent prurient hand wringing in some sections of the media. They seem to find nudity for commercial, sexual or pornographic purposes acceptable or even laudable but can’t tolerate people being nude simply because it is more comfortable and appropriate than wearing clothing. Perhaps this is because they realise that if nudity were to become common place, pornography and sexually loaded adverts would become much less effective. Sadly, the media led preoccupation with the body beautiful has led to a culture where a majority finds nudity inoffensive, yet large numbers, particularly younger people regard their own bodies as being shamefully ugly or substandard.
Advice on how you can promote a healthy body attitude in your family. Hints on how to positively promote Naturism to all those that you encounter daily that may have the wrong idea about raising naturist kids. We also welcome those that have been raised as naturist. I’m going to assume that members would like nudity to be a normal part of your life and most topics will reflect that. If you request to join, you should get a note for more information.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a cool breeze on your nether regions – and it’s the message that nudists have been exposing to the public all along. Nudism or naturism is all about getting in touch with nature and expressing yourself through social nudity. It’s not necessarily about eroticism or sexuality but more about enjoying life an au natural way.
The roots of this lifestyle hail all the way back to the late 1700s and it’s still thriving all over the world today. In Australia the first known nudist clubs date way back to the 1920s but it was after World War II when nudism became a more acceptable recreational lifestyle. Perhaps due to the incredible Australian weather, the most popular place to shed unwanted clothing appears to be the beach with 31.67% of users voting it as the best place they have been nude.
Who are the naturists?
Naturism appeals relatively uniformly to almost all sectors of British society. The major exception to this is that blacks and Asians are under-represented. The traditions of Muslim society, while favouring communal nudity in certain situations, prohibit nudity in front of strangers, and this is undoubtedly a major factor in this cultural and racial imbalance within naturism. There is no specific data to quantify this imbalance, but it is obvious to anyone looking around at a naturist beach or club. However, a similar imbalance will be seen on any beach. In Australia we have organisations such as: http://www.ausnatural.org.au
A recent survey of Canadian naturists showed that they tend to have above average incomes and that they are more likely to live in an urban area than the general population. A survey of attitude to nudity amongst students at a United Stated University showed quite strikingly that students with better educated and wealthier parents were more likely to be supportive of naturist ideals.
Naturism appears to be relatively more common within the gay community. Many gay venues such as saunas, spas and swims operate a “costumes optional” regime.
There are still a surprisingly large number of cultures that are fully nude despite the damage done by westernisation.
There has also been substantial growth in naturist use of leisure centres. In the 1970s naturist sessions were restricted to some of the smaller privately-operated pools. Now there are over a hundred, mainly local authority, and including many of the largest. For most of these events an entire leisure centre becomes naturist for the evening.
Studies of the effect of naturism on children show either no effect, or some overall benefit.
Children don’t generally take much notice of what other people are wearing, or care – they are too busy with their own concerns, i.e. playing and having fun. It’s only when people grow up that they ‘learn’ that nudity is something they’re supposed to be offended by. This is common knowledge amongst those who have had opportunity to observe the reactions of children, but adults with no experience of naturism often assume otherwise. We have never heard of a child suffering distress due to nudity. However, we have heard of distress being caused by the threatening behaviour of men who were also exposing themselves. We also expect that children will have been caused distress by an adult telling them that they should be distressed.
Most parents can relate anecdotes showing that, in relatively novel situations, children tend to echo parental responses, rather than exhibiting innate responses. Thus if a parent and child encounter public nudity together, and this is the child’s first sight of an unclothed adult, the child will tend to parrot the parental behaviour (as noted in the first quote below). In the absence of a parent, the normal reaction of a child to novelty is mild curiosity.
The British Board of Film Classification carries out extensive research into societal attitudes and the effects of theme, language, nudity, sex, violence, imitable techniques, horror and drugs. They concluded that “Natural nudity, providing there is no sexual context or sub-text, is acceptable at all classification levels.”
Nudity, in and of itself, is not intrinsically threatening or upsetting to a child. It only becomes so if the child has been brought up to regard nudity as something disturbing. Most child care experts agree that this is harmful to the child and that naturally occurring nudity is not harmful.
****It is important to note that family nudism can be targets for pedophilia and you should always consider your child’s safety.***
Many countries set maxima for amounts of clothing on health and hygiene grounds. For example:
- Most pools in France ban swim shorts. Trunks (or less) are required.
- Many countries consider the wearing of clothing in a sauna to be a health risk.
From March until August each year the near microscopic larvae of the linuche unquiculata jellyfish bring misery to tens of thousands of swimmers along the Florida coast. For some, especially children, it will be serious enough to require a visit to a hospital emergency room and it can take weeks to recover. In some areas one in four swimmers will be affected. The larvae become attached to bathing suits so swimming nude is a near 100% effective defence.
For Men: Ideally, testicles should be kept a bit cooler that normal body temperature. Testicles kept wrapped up in clothes overheat which reduces sperm count and increases the risk of testicular cancer.
For Women: The wearing of clothes, especially in bed, is associated with an increased risk of urinary tract infections for girls. It also inhibits potty training, both day and night
The bra is a garment with a number of myths and problems associated with it:
- Contrary to popular belief wearing a bra makes the breasts sag more because the supporting structures atrophy. This atrophication then makes going without a bra uncomfortable and it can also reduce breast size. As a person ages the amount of fat in the breast usually increases and this is the major cause of increasing sag.
- Bras with narrow straps can cause headaches and pain in the shoulder and arm by placing pressure on the cervical nerve which runs along the top of the shoulder. If the nerve is damaged then this can be long term.
- A study of women with breast pain or fibrocystic breast disease has shown marked beneficial effects from stopping wearing a bra. Contrary to previous medical opinion, recent studies have shown that the fibrocystic condition does not increase ones chance of developing breast cancer or other problems.
A web search will find a large number of articles on this topic.
As shown above there is an overwhelming correlation between naturism and low teenage pregnancy and abortion rates.teenagers.
Clothes-compulsion intimidates millions of mothers from breast-feeding their children, even though breast-feeding is healthier and often more convenient for both the child and the mother.
Gabrielle Palmer writes: “In Victorian England, famous for its prudery, a respectable woman could feed openly in church, yet in contemporary industrialized society where women’s bodies and particularly breasts are used to sell newspapers, cars and peanuts, public breast-feeding provokes cries of protest from both men and women.” Lisa Demauro notes that “our society [USA] is far more at home with the idea of sexy breasts than functional ones.” Marsha Pearlman, the Florida Health Department coordinator for breast-feeding wrote “Millions of boys and girls have grown up never having seen a mother breast-feeding her baby. This is a sad commentary on our culture.”
Sunshine – Risks and Benefits
The evidence is conclusive that many, perhaps most, skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV radiation but the converse, that all sunlight exposure is harmful, is not true. Indeed there are health benefits so the optimum must be a compromise between excessive exposure and none at all.
There are a number of different types of skin cancer and “The relationship between the most fatal skin cancer, i.e. malignant melanoma and solar UV exposure is, however, still unclear and needs to be clarified to optimise preventive measures and minimise mortality from skin cancers.” There is evidence that intermittent exposure and sunburn increase the risk of malignant melanoma but that moderate long term exposure actually reduces the risk. The other types of skin cancer are usually amenable to treatment and are not generally fatal. Some exposure to sunshine is essential for health as stated in this letter to the Times:
“Awareness of the connection between sunlight exposure and skin cancer (report, March 31 ) is vitally important to prevent the continuing rise in malignant melanoma in Britain in the last few years. However, we must not overlook the benefits of moderate sunlight for the production of Vitamin D. In Britain it can be made in the skin only between May and September, and 10 to 15 minutes in the sun, without sunscreen, a few times a week is vital to prevent vitamin D deficiency. There is increasing medical evidence that chronic vitamin D deficiency is linked with the well known bone diseases, such as rickets and some cancers (breast and prostate), diabetes and high blood pressure. Regular moderate sunshine may actually reduce the risk of dangerous skin cancer.” Dr. Jacqueline Berry
There is evidence that exposure to sunshine improves mental health in general and that it prevents Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in particular.
Sunshine also reduces the risk of heart attacks. In 1995 there were under 2,000 deaths in the UK from skin cancer but over 130,000 from coronary heart disease. Thus if exposure to sunshine has even a small protective effect against heart disease it could far outweigh the increased risk of skin cancer. Ness et al state that this is an area that needs further research before any recommendations can be made.
Exposure to the sun is a significant contributor to skin aging as is easily observed by comparing the skin on parts of the body normally exposed to the light with those that are not.
Exposure to the sun increases the risk of cataracts.
The death rate from rectal/anal cancer is higher in Australia than it should be because people are reluctant go to the doctor. By the time the symptoms become so severe that they have to it is often too late. As one consultant oncologist said, “They die of embarrassment“.
Everyone knows of athletes foot but when did you last hear of athletes hand?
False Body Image
When only false, over idealised, images of the human body are presented to teenagers it is not surprising that some of them have a low self body image and consequent health and social problems.
The images are often completely false. Digital retouching, or indeed sometimes synthesis, means that most people have a very distorted view of what people really look like. “Ben”, a digital retoucher for a major Australian magazine publisher stated:
In the absence of experience of naturism, it is very easy for people to regard the images prevalent in the media as normal, with the consequent fear that their own bodies fall far short of this norm. Such body-shame is rather different to the conventional inhibition against public nudity. The attitude is particularly prevalent in adolescents and young adults, where it is apparently giving rise to serious concerns amongst health professionals. The case of Jenna Frankman who was going to be given breast implants by her parents for her sixteenth birthday is the tip of an iceberg. A 15 year old pupil of one of our contributors, when asked why she wouldn’t take part in school sports day, said “I don’t want to exercise and be fit. Athletes have small boobs.” The other girls in the class agreed with her.
A recent study showed that this is just as much a problem for men as it is for women.
Showering following school sport is becoming a thing of the past. This was noted by one of our correspondents who has been a teacher for many years and confirmed by a number of press articles. This is due to a combination of the shyness of the young person and the unwillingness of teachers to risk their careers by supervising showers.
We suggest checking out these guid lines set out by Aus Natural.
Modern Day Nudism
Getting naked in public has become even more popular in recent years and these days there are all sorts of facilities and events where you can flaunt your natural self with everything from public swimming pools to holiday resorts.
If you want something closer to home then check out one of the many nude beaches in Australia. For those choosing to swap their swimming trunks for their birthday suit try;
Alexandria Bay, QLD: Although it’s still an unofficial nude beach, Alexandria Bay is by far Queensland most popular clothing free beach and has been used for nude swimming and sunbathing for many years. Located on the eastern side of the Noosa Heads National Park, most days provide a busy a sea of naked bodies wanting to soak up the glorious Australian sun.
Lady Bay, NSW: Perhaps one of Australia’s oldest and most publicised nude beaches, Lady Bay was granted legal status as a nudist beach in 1976. It’s beautiful rocky surrounds make it perfect for a bit of relaxation and privacy.
Pelican Point Beach, SA: Not just a clothing optional bathing area, Pelican Point also allows camping which means you can turn a day at the beach into a whole weekend. If you like lazing in the sun canoeing, sailing, water skiing, or just getting away from life’s hassles, all without clothes of course, then Pelican Point is for you. There’s plenty of shade and a sheltered, sandy beach with safe swimming but you will have to rough it a little as there are no facilities provided at all.
Nth Swanbourne Beach, WA: This is one of Australia’s most popular nude beaches and many RHP members get on down there to enjoy the sunny surrounds. It’s very close to the Perth CBD making it convenient for everyone to enjoy. If you are planning to go to North Swanbourne it is a good idea to get out there early, it can get a little windy after 11am.
With so many opportunities to get your kit off it’s surprising that so many of us are walking around clothed all the time. So get nude, get back to nature, and enjoy the freedom of being buck naked – clothes are way too restricting anyway.
Your body is yours, a gift from God, and it is decent and wholesome. With nudists, you’ll see all shapes and sizes, all ages, men and women, and those with all manner of scars etc. The size and shape of your breasts, penis, butt, belly or anything else just doesn’t come up. Nudists are a more sophisticated bunch than that!
There is still some prejudice against naturists but the overwhelming majority of people consider them to be harmless. A tiny but sometimes vocal minority considers naturism to be illegal. Officials sometimes act according to what they imagine the public attitude to be but this is becoming less common.
Naturist tourism is big business and growing rapidly. Both local and national governments have changed legislation and policies as a result.
Children are largely indifferent to nudity. There is evidence of benefit, and none of harm.
The media have caused both teenagers and older people to have an over idealised image of the human body which leads to a range of sociological and health problems.
The correlation between naturism and responsible sexual behaviour by teenagers is very strong and probably reflects a society with a more mature approach to the human body.
Breast feeding is much cheaper, healthier and usually more convenient than bottle feeding for both mother and baby but social pressures deter many mothers from doing so.
There are situations where reluctance to strip in public can kill people.
Embarrassment about the body leads to increased mortality rates for at least one type of disease and increases the risk of contracting others.