What is Naturism Exactly?
A literal definition of the word naturism is given by the International Naturist Federation as the one they adopted in 1974. To whit: “A lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterized by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.”
While this definition certainly provides the “what” part of the quotient, the “why” aspect is still “clothed” in ambiguity and begs the further question of why do people become naturists? Generally speaking, in today’s world, most do so to further embrace their values regarding larger societal issues.
Reasons of health, diet, anti-pollution, pro-environment, acceptance, body image and others have been cited as reasons for membership and participation. Elements of eroticism may be included within the motivation of some but that need not be the case according to practitioners of the naturist lifestyle. Indeed, if that motivation gets in the way of the core values of respect, then a censure can be expected from the group.
The adaptation of the naturist lifestyle can take many guises and is limited only by the personal preferences of the participant. These range from personal or family naturism, to social situations that might occur at clubs, both formal and informal, or during staged events. Similarly, whether the lifestyle is an everyday type of activity or reserved only for special occasion is a question that can only be answered by the individual naturist but reflects the broad range of options available.
What you can expect? As the aforementioned would suggest, your expectations can be as broad as the assemblage you choose to participate in. “Landed” or membership nudist clubs are those that own their own facilities and can include strict rules regarding comportment, division of labor to keep the group a going concern, strict background checks, and membership that can be less than democratic.
Conversely, non-landed groups, also known as travel groups, will stage meetings in private residences, pools, natural hot-springs, and resorts. Finally, some just gather at annual festivals such as; Word Naked Gardening Day, held in May, or the World Naked Bike Ride day which is a clothing optional group that seeks to point the spotlight on the use of human body transport as a way to “deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world.” Other venues include nude beaches, nude resorts, and festivals like the annual Burning Man festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Internal and societal constructs can influence your reaction to social nudity. Individually, as a culture, we have applied the rubric of body issues across a large swath of the population and your comfort level with personal nudity is yours. You will know if the lifestyle is right for you. Apprehension initially can be expected and as they say, everyone has to have their first time. Within your personal life you may find an issue with a spouse or partner who doesn’t wish to participate on the same level as you. Further, if you have children you need to consider what role they will occupy in this new existence.
Existing outside the norm has the possibility to garner outside scrutiny and critics. These criticisms typically arise through misinterpretation of the movement and erroneously formed preconceived notions. Examples include; outside sources portraying themselves as affiliated with the movement while only seeking to eroticize their own experience as evidenced by websites displaying the lascivious or commonly held notions of propriety being offended.
Frequently called nudism or supporters of clothes-free living, the naturists advocate a lifestyle that revolves around social and family nudism. Naturists or nudists, include people of all ages, religions, physical sizes, and occupations. With over 1000 officially designated beaches worldwide and many resorts and other facilities, the naturist has many options to choose from when going on vacation.
The range of commitment among naturists runs from a casual day at the beach to incorporating the ideals into every aspect of life. Some are deeply committed to the entire philosophy of Naturism; others simply enjoy being clothes-free. The ideals of the naturists traditionally include environmentalism, advocacy of vegetarianism, spirituality, and liberty. Of course, each club and individual has variations in their beliefs.
Those devoted to the Naturist lifestyle seek housing in areas that are either designated as naturist-oriented or are remote enough to offer the freedom to live without clothing. Although in the United States, nudism and Naturism are considered equivalent, in other parts of the world these two are distinct. Nudism is simply the act of going without clothing, while Naturism is a commitment to the philosophy and lifestyle of the naturists.
Early ideas that were incorporated into the naturist philosophy of today are rooted in Germanic ideals of health and fitness that flourished in the early 20th century. The return to nature, as man was intended to be, is the core of Naturism. From Germany, the values and ideals of Naturism spread throughout Europe and to North America. The Deutscher Verband Fur Freikorperkulture (DFK) is the German naturist organization. Founded in 1949, it advocates for incorporating sports into the naturist lifestyle. A similar organization is the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), founded in 1931. They charter over 250 parks and resorts throughout the United States. Membership grants discounts to these facilities. The AANR and DFK are both associated with the International Naturist Federation (INF). Naturists can consult the INF website and materials when searching for holiday facilities all over the world. World-class resorts, remote camping, competitive games, and global events link naturists around the world.
Croatia, with its extensive coastline and hundreds of islands in the Adriatic Sea, was the site of one of the first nudist beaches in 1934. Plenty of privacy and an abundance of sea and sunshine provide this area with the perfect spot for soaking up the sun. Currently it is the site of over 30 official nude beaches and nudist resorts with a wealth of other unofficial sites along the coastline. Other countries in Europe have offerings ranging from apartments and camping to beaches and resorts include Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Ireland. Facilities abound throughout the world.
As part of The Naturist Society, the Naturist Action Committee (NAC) seeks to provide information on legal and political issues that affect North American Naturists. They have alerts and calls to action that keep nudists up-to-date on the latest information affecting them. The Naturist Society also has an educational arm, the Naturist Education Foundation whose goal is to provide information in an attempt to raise awareness and acceptance among naturists and non-naturists alike. Publications cover various topics from legal issues to nude cinema. The specific publication “Naturists: Upholders of Strong Family Values,” is used to argue the point that Naturism is a family-oriented practice and helps to solidify support for Naturist facilities.