Nudism - Historical Development

 Nudism - Historical Development


Nudism is characterized by collective nudity among family and friends for the purpose of accepting the entire human body as being wholesome and shame free. Nudism is for boys and girls of all ages.

Remember, from the beginning your body was designed to be nude!

Since there have been people, there have been nudists…it’s not such a new or bizarre idea for people to want to be nude. Even in these modern times there are Indian tribes in Brazil (the Zoe Tribe of the Amazon left, and Xingu tribe lower left and bottom), and African cultures (Phe-Zulu below right) that live their entire lives totally nude. Children naturally love to be nude because they have yet to be taught (by adults) to be ashamed of their bodies.


Organized nudism appeared for the first time in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century under the name Freikörperkultur, which means “The culture of the free body.” At the time, the need emerged for a more natural lifestyle and a less strict way of dressing. Freilichtpark, the first (and famous) nudist club, was opened near Hamburg Germany in 1903. Soon after, author Heinrich Ungewitter published the book “Nakedness,” a story about a utopia-like way of living without clothes; or living completely in the nude. The book was a huge success and had several editions. The nudist movement soon spread across the entire country of Germany, and new nudist clubs started opening in many German towns. 

When Hitler came into power in 1933, nudist organizations were banned in Germany and it became illegal to practice nudism.  

When the war ended, the nudist idea emerged again; and this time it happened in international proportions. Including Germany in the 1960s, Croatia was one of the first countries where spending one’s summer vacations at nudist resorts and beaches became very popular. Croatia wanted to attract as many German tourists as possible, and locations such as beaches and resorts that allowed nudity seemed to be the answer.  

With regard to the spread of nudism in the U.S., the hippie movement played a huge role. One of ideals of hippies was the return to nature, enjoying one another’s nakedness and the feeling of freedom from the conventions of clothing. 

The Development and Spread of Nudism 

Beginning in the 1920's, nudism came to America. The nudist idea accelerated in America in the 50's and 60's, and in the 1980s and 1990s, the nudist movement garnered an even greater number of believers. Those who subscribed to nudism were people with strikingly different backgrounds and social and educational status. The phenomenon of Christian nudism even appeared that advocated a “Biblical” lifestyle without clothes (a return to Eden).

Under pressure for more tourism, even exceptionally conservative countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain had to give way to the nudist idea. Special beaches in these countries offered nudist facilities for foreign travelers seeking places to relax in the nude.

Roots in Antiquity (Adam & Eve were perhaps the first 'nudists')     

Adam and Eve were naked and were unashamed. There is nothing either in the Bible or in most denominational statements of faith that assert that the nude human body is shameful. This idea was only recently (about 140 years ago) presented by a select group of Christians known as the Puritans, and by the pragmatic beliefs of Queen Victoria. She believed that hiding the human body was a sure way of preventing immoral activity and the resulting spread of social diseases. Unfortunately, she was 100% wrong. Before the Puritans and Queen Victoria started what is now the modern concept that 'the nude human body is shameful,' public, communal and familial nudity was far more common (the world was not necessarily one huge ‘nudist camp,' but public nudity was much more acceptable). Prior to the Industrial Revolution, fabric was very expensive to manufacture, so most common people only had one set of ‘good’ clothes. Needless to say, they did not use them to do heavy labor. Many times remote farm families did their chores and field work completely nude. Also, inside plumbing was generally not available, so bathing Etc. was done in streams, communal bathes or in tubs in the kitchen areas of the home or in the back yard. Kids including teens up to about the 1950’s, both male and female, skinny dipped together in streams and ponds during the summer season.

Clothing for Ancient Greeks

The Ancient Greeks were quick to dispense with clothes. Young people, male and female, from birth through their twenties, seldom wore any clothing at all. If they did wear ‘clothes,’ it was usually nothing more than a small piece of cloth worn either around the waist or over one shoulder. On the otherwise nude body of teenage girls, a piece of cloth called a “chiton” was sometimes worn. The style for girls was essentially the same  throughout Greece. Young girls were either nude, or wore no other article of clothing except the chiton, which was worn like a skirt around the waist and ended above the knee. The side was slit up high so that in stepping along, the entire thigh was exposed; and the girl was topless. Most of the boys declined clothes altogether and went totally nude.

Most of the Greek people practiced sports, sometimes dined, bathed (of course) and did many other daily activities completely in the nude. The human body and all of its natural functions were viewed with great respect, and was not something to be considered shameful.

The word “gymnasium” is derived from the word “gymnos,” meaning ‘naked.’ Athletes in ancient Greece trained and competed completely naked, or nude as we say today. Most of the nude competitions were for men, but as females gained more stature in the culture, female nude competitions also became common. Females were also commonly seen nude or almost nude (typically topless) carrying out daily activities in public places. The Hebraic traditions of the ancient near east considered the genitals, after to Fall, to be necessarily associated with a sense of shame and guilt. However, the Greeks managed to outgrow this sense of shame, and turn it around to a healthier more wholesome concept of the human body.

The Greeks from about 720 onwards (not including modern times) allowed athletic competition runners and indeed all the other contestants to perform sports completely nude. Consequently the Greeks, the healthiest and most aesthetically perfect people hitherto known to the world, felt that the covering of the genitals while the body was otherwise nude was indeed unnatural, and recognized that such a covering only had any meaning if one had ascribed a moral and/or inferior value to the function of the genitals. As a result, in situations such as relaxing or athletic activities, where normal clothing is restrictive, the Greeks readily dispensed with the clothes altogether.

The further consequence of the concept that ‘nude is natural ’ was that the Greeks on most occasions when clothing was felt to be unnecessary or otherwise burdensome went for complete nudity. Consequently, we can consider modern nudists to be the heirs of the ideas and customs of our early Greek ancestors.

Clothing for Ancient Minoans (2000-1650 BCE)

There was a time in human history when no clothing at all was worn by humans. Researchers today claim that clothing, or  some form of body covering, was initially invented by ancient peoples as protection against the elements; but there are cultures that existed then and exist today that live where protection from the elements is not a requirement due to mild climatic why were clothes invented?

The Minoan culture was an ancient civilization that survived on the island of Crete, for what is now Greece, from about 2000 BCE until about 1650 BCE. During that period, clothing (or the lack thereof) was different for males and females. Dress for Minoan males was fairly simple or non-existent; if males wore anything it all it was little more than a loin cloth (probably made of leather) that only covered the genitals; however, Minoan art shows that males generally preferred to be totally nude.

In ancient Minoan culture, females would either decorate their bodies with colored pigments and/or with simple jewelry made from natural stones, wood or bone material. If the females wore what would be considered clothes, it was a little more elaborate than male clothing. What is preserved in frescoes and pottery art are dresses involving a flounced skirt, and a vest-like garment that was completely open in the front fully exposing the breasts. Some Minoan art shows that Minoan clothes for women were fitted to the body similar to modern clothes, but probably a little different, as the ability to weave delicate fabrics had not yet been invented. What is more likely is that the clothing might have somewhat resembled modern clothing with regard to basic design, but more likely was much simpler due to the materials used. It is probable that Minoan clothing was not sewn using woven cloth, but was merely constructed of tied-together strings. This kind of clothing would not cover the body very well, but early clothing was not intended to conceal the body, but rather to decorate the body. In mild climates, clothing was worn more for its aesthetic value than for protection from the elements. In fact, it might be assumed that in the ancient Minoan culture, clothing was completely optional, even though some form of partial body covering for women is typically displayed in Minoan art. Generally, ancient art illustrates what humans value; in early human history woven fabric was rare and expensive, therefore of great value.

As a historical note, the end of the Minoan culture may have come very quickly. In 1650 BCE the volcano on Thera erupted in what has been described as the largest volcanic eruption in the last 10,000 years for that period. It is estimated that over half of the Minoan people perished during and shortly after the eruption, and the culture ultimately failed in the succeeding years.

The Philosophy of Nudism  

Nudists believe that the nude human body should be accepted, respected, nurtured and enjoyed. Nudists and their families enjoy leisure activities like everyone else; they just enjoy relaxing and recreating in the nude. Some of those considering nudism find it hard to believe that their nudity has nothing to do with sex. They learn that simply being nude in the company of others is a separate issue from sex. Nudists believe that spending one’s vacation or other leisure activities in the nude is not morally wrong; rather, it is mentally and emotionally invigorating.

Many nudists say that spending time without clothes among other nude people gives them a greater feeling of physical, intellectual and emotional acceptance. Without clothes, a person’s social status is unnoticeable ... everyone is equal.

Today, nudism is considered to be a completely acceptable activity, and people who prefer to ‘go nude’ are no longer looked on in amazement, or considered as a “morally depraved person.” Statistical studies show that nudism is the fastest growing leisure activity in the world. It is estimated today that ten to fifteen people out of every one hundred are dedicated practicing nudists (that's 10%-15%), both male and female, at home and at play…many are just afraid to admit it in public. These nudists are your friends, family, students and co-workers. Nudity is a healthy natural state for human beings; it has a long history for humans, and it is fun, comfortable and is completely natural.

Please don’t leave planet earth without enjoying the many benefits and fun of being a nudist (put nudism on your bucket list)... start today when you get home from work or whatever you're doing, take your clothes natural and nude whenever possible...and be sure to tell your friends and family how fun nudism is!

Best Regards from Nature’s Hideaway……AND THANK YOU!

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