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Brief History of Nudism and Naturism

Brief History of Nudism and Naturism

When scientists did a study on the genetic makeup of the common body louse, they were able to establish the approximate time that human beings first began to wear clothing. The louse is a parasite that feed on the human body, but can not do so with out clothing. The testing showed that humans first began to wear clothing 72,000 years ago. Since Homo sapiens have been around for 200,000 years, it appears that all humans have been nudists for over half the existence of the species.

In the historical area, there were less social and moral issues involved with nudity during the Classical period. In ancient Greece the human body was viewed as beautiful and was the subject of art. Athletes commonly were nude as they competed in events against each other, and the word gymnasium comes from the Greek root, gymnos, which means nude.

Although the first nudist colonies were established in British India in 1891, it was in Germany that the naturism movement really began. In the early 1900’s several papers were published that advocated the idea that the human body was neither sinful nor obscene. They talked of the concepts of self hate, and shame. The first nudist colonies were opened in Germany around 1903, and grew into popularity during the 1920’s. They were suppressed by the Nazi party, but never completely eliminated.

The Germans seemed to be the missionaries of the Naturism movement. In the 1960’s German’s vacationing along the Mediterranean coast in France began nudist colonies, and nudist beaches and nudist resorts grew in popularity there. The movement had its early beginning in North America in 1929 when a German immigrant named Kurt Barthel opened a colony in the United States. In the early days of the movement in America, nudism became associated with family values and alcohol was prohibited from all activities.

Despite the attempt to associate high moral standards with the nudism movement it was subjected to much harassment and misunderstanding due to the prevailing social climate in the country that saw nudism as a sexual and even pornographic activity. Over the past three decades this has largely changed. Nudist vacations became more common, and nudism lost some of its social stigma. Nudism became less restrictive as well and clothing optional gathering became more common. Topless beaches also became popular, and the organized nudist movement made strides in erasing the negative perception of nudism.