Home » Environmental stuff » Naturism As A Lifestyle

Naturism As A Lifestyle

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






  1. […] Naturism As A Lifestyle: […]


  2. […] posted on Social Change: Naturism is not: just sunbathing just visiting nudist clubs just going nude in or around the house […]


  3. Reblogged this on Terry's Cupboard and commented:

    I have been overwhelmed with return comments, but several out of about 300 are what I call in bad taste. So I have blocked those sites. Obviously body acceptance is a topic that needs to be discussed, certainly from the standpoint of social science research – of which there is unfortunately, currently very little. The sexualization of the body, particularly over the past 200 years, has made the gap from findings to social policy almost impossible to close. The right for women in Ontario and Montreal to be able to go topless in public places, has been a recent major breakthrough towards body acceptance. Block advocacy works best, where many women protest current laws together.


  4. Eric Blair says:

    For me, naturism is inseparable from my being. I want to be naked whenever and wherever I can. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. I was brought up in a non-naturist home and kept it hidden from family.

    I don’t wait for a nude beach or resort. I make my own. I will strip off on any beach or trail. I just do it quietly and unobtrusively. People generally look away and so far nobody has made a fuss.

    On a public beach with people around I take my shorts and loosely drape it around my penis, then I lie back and get an all over tan. When not many are around I will just lie naked and even walk around a bit when people aren’t too close.

    On a public trail I will carry a pair of shorts and loosely cover up if necessary. In all cases a smile goes along way. My wife usually accompanies me and she does not participate, except to take photos. I think that this makes it more acceptable for some reason.

    At a resort, we both will sit out nude on our terrace or balcony as long as it isn’t too public. If it is more public it is usually just me. People just go about their business as usual and leave me to my inclinations.

    At home, I garden nude all of the time in my backyard. Over a dozen homes can see into my unfenced yard. One neighbour immediately behind me built a high fence. The man quietly told me when he asked for permission to build that they had a good view of my yard.

    I take out the garbage nude early in the morning, even in daylight, and bring the cans in later in the day, always nude. I pick up the paper at the curbside while I am nude. All of the neighbours know. Nobody complains.

    I have talked to my next door neighbours while I was nude on several occasions. One of them is European and she has never mentioned it as a problem, so I take that as an okay. I live in a suburban neighbourhood in a medium sized city in Canada.

    We have been to nudist resorts and beaches, but my wife sometimes goes nude or topless, but does not consider herself a nudist. She does not like gawkers and is turned off by overt sexual behaviour that we have seen on some nude beaches. It mostly has to do with people trying to hookup. Nude resorts restrict our location and some of those are overtly sexual as well.

    So I have had to make the most of opportunities as they come along by just being me.


  5. naturalian says:

    Reblogged this on Naturalian's Blog and commented:
    More than mere nudity….


  6. […] 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 … Continue reading → […]


  7. […] posted on Social Change: Naturism is not: just sunbathing just visiting nudist clubs just going nude in or around the house […]


  8. […] Naturism As A Lifestyle « Social Change […]


  9. Bare Beach Bum says:

    Unfortunately it is nearly impossible in our modern society to change peoples’ perception and hence regulations and laws without a “movement” of some sort. Unless it becomes a political issue about fairness or equality, there is very little chance of change. For the most part people that practice nudism/naturism are passive people. We just want to be left alone to enjoy what we enjoy.

    Other more controversial societal and moral issues have become accepted and even pushed on non-supporters through bullying and shaming. We have chosen to not take that tactic because it has been diametrically opposed to our beliefs against shame and bullying.

    I have arrived at the unfortunate conclusion that if we would like more nude recreation areas and greater acceptance of the practice that we will have to turn it into a “rights” or “equality” issue. The Free The Nipple movement is the beginning of that struggle. We need to organize better and publicize our cause from that perspective.

    What do the rest of you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Smoothalx says:

    Reblogged this on Naturally and commented:
    A very interesting article about what naturism is about.


  11. […] Source: Naturism As A Lifestyle « Social Change […]


  12. The Activist says:

    Naturism can be for most a lifestyle change which over time can change people’s outlook on life totally !


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