NUDISM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD (Feb, 1961)
NUDISM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
A first-hand account of the Naturist movement from the point-of-view of a practicing nudist.
by Ray Romaine
MY wife and I are nudists. During six years of travelingâ€”which included circling of the globe from east to west via Australia and the Suez Canalâ€”we participated in a wide variety of nudist activities.
In addition to a number in America, of which we have been members, we have visited nudist resorts in Australia, New Zealand, England, and Denmark; and we have been to two of the world’s countries where nudity is an accepted part of the culture.
At the first of these, Sweden, during two weeks at Goteborg, we endeavored to find out if what we had heard of the Swede’s casual acceptance of nudity was true.
With the numerous examples of statuary, mostly complete and detailed nudes, that adorned the boulevards and parks as an indication of what we might find on the sea coast, we set out for the nearest beach.
A few people dotted the shore, all of whom were attired in the most ordinary of bathing suits with not a bikini among them. Even not-so-staid old England had displayed a goodly proportion of these. One thing though, a few women stood at the water’s edge supervising a group of naked kiddies who paddled within the barrier.
We chose a high rock as a vantage point, the beginning of a ridge that led out to a rocky headland, and settled ourselves on our blanket after removing the clothing we had on over our bikinis.
As new families, couples, and individuals arrived, evidently eager to take advantage of the first warm days of summer, we were provided with the information we were seeking as each and all of them sat down on their blankets, and with varying degrees of what in America would be called immodesty, removed their clothing and donned their bathing suits. We moved on toward the rocky point, and had walked no more than fifty yards when we passed a couple lying nude upon a blanket. Upon our approach the girl rolled over onto her stomach, but made no further attempt at concealment. Upon the point itself, bathing suits were the exception, nudity the rule. There were no more than a dozen people.
Some had built little walls of rock in an effort to gain a measure of privacy. A tall girl and her two male companions swam in the cold water, wandered along its edge, and sunbathed on the flat rocks as openly as we would at “camp.” We followed their example without, as far as we could discover, raising an eyebrow, even among the sailboat enthusiasts that passed within feet of the point. We have since been informed that this openness is not the case in the Stockholm area.
The other country we visited where nudity is accepted is Japan. There, an attitude is held that is somewhat like that advocated by the world – wide nudist organization, the International Naturist Federation. That attitude is: where nakedness is a practical necessity, it is accepted as natural, but it is never used as a means of sexual provocation* In the rural areas, a woman may be seen bathing nude in a stream near her home, but when she is dressed, her clothing is designed to conceal her figure, not, as in our non-nudity culture, made to accentuate it.
While on a holiday at Atami, a resort region seventy-five miles south of Tokyo, we lived at one of the number of beautiful hotels.
The bath was a good sized circular pool that could be entered at any point down three steps that also served as seats’, allowing a person of any size to sit neck-deep in the very hot water. The actual cleansing was done beforehand in an area at one side of the pool where water spigots, wooden buckets, brushes and soap were provided for that purpose.
Men, women, and children cleaned themselves and bathed in the pool. There was no separation of the sexes and absolutely no attempt at concealment. We were accepted with the same wide-grinning sense of humor that was the habitual reaction of the Japanese to our appearance on the street in kimonos.
We heard that a law had been passed forbidding mixed bathing, but that this had been side-stepped by the use of separate entrances for men and women or the placing of a barrier (sometimes only a string) between them in the pool. Neither of these evasions was in evidence at the pool where we bathed.
On the beaches suits are worn by the bathers, though there are certain industries carried on along the sea coast where nudity and semi-nudity is customary for both male and female participants.
The International Naturist Federation lists four hundred and eighty-two nudist clubs representing seventeen countries. They list another twenty-one countries as corresponding members. One hundred and nineteen of these are member clubs of the American Sunbathing Association.
These locations offer accommodations varying from an unimproved spot on the bank of a stream on a member’s farm, to a luxury hotel like Sheplegh Court in England, from a vast area of open sea beach like Montalivet on France’s Atlantic coast, to the typical American park with motel-type cabins, trailer court and camping area.
Besides these, there are public areas for nudist activities such as the “free beaches” on Germany’s Baltic coast, most of the coast and inland lakes of Sweden, the Lobau near Vienna, Austria, and France’s famous nudist island, the Ile de Levant, with the world’s only nudist city, Heliopolis. In this city, and on the island’s roads and byways one must wear “le minimum,” a diminutive patch usually contrived from some gay or comic material.
Who can go to a naturist park? There is one not far from New York City where anybody may go, providing they make initial inquiries and adhere to the rather strict rules of behavior that are enforced at all A.S.A. nudist clubs: no alcoholic beverages, no profane language, no promiscuous behavior of any kind.
Nudism is essentially a family experience and the majority of clubs ‘limit their membership to this group. The “singles problem” is well known among nudists the world over. A single is not defined as such on the evidence of his marriage status; he is the person who attempts to gain admission as an individual, whether male or female.
Unmarried people are admitted in association with any person of the opposite sex: a relative or friend. Many clubs allow singles on a quota basis relative to the balance of sexes. As there are, understandably, more applications from male than female singles, this allows for the admission of only the most desirable people.
Children take to nudism un-questioningly. One of the most pleasant experiences to be had at a camp is that of watching the kiddies play by the edge of the pool, knowing that they will not arrive at the age of puberty holding the damaging attitudes that were foisted upon ourselves.
At a club in Sydney, Australia, the six-year-old son of a Canadian couple whom we introduced to nudism, who had never seen either of his parents naked, jumped out of the car, stripped off his clothing, and headed for the group of children at the pool’s edge. His mother, who spent most of the day sitting in the car, having never removed her clothing, had difficulty in persuading him to leave at sundown.
Many parents are doubtful about taking their children to a camp, fearing the remarks the child may make before friends or neighbors in their home community. This has proven to be a futile worry. The toddlers do not differentiate between nudity and non-nudity; the older children understand when the subject can or cannot be discussed.
The children of our acquaintance who have been raised according to the nudist idea tend to have more grace, to be less giddy in adolescence, and more mature in their attitude to the opposite sex. With nudists, as is the case with some primitive societies in which a more natural attitude is taken toward the body, the aims of curiosity and sexual gratification do not take precedence over the attraction of personality in the choice of a marriage partner.
Why do people in quite large numbers from most of the world’s countries that represent the most advanced forms of civilization go to nudist resorts?
Nudity, per se, is the only commodity offered by a nudist resort that cannot be found at any other. Those who go to camp because they have fun, or because they like to swim and play games in the open, soon learn that these things can be had elsewhere.
The majority of nudists find that, though nudity is the one distinction our resorts have over any other, this is quite some difference! The fact of accepting the nakedness of one’s own body and that of others in a social climate automatically eliminates a number of emotional negatives from an individual’s personality.
Shame is number one among them. The non-nudist’s habitual inquiry before entering a room in which a person may be in a state of undressâ€””Are you decent?”â€” proves the rather low estimate he has of his own body.
Other dispelled negatives are immodesty and indignity; though this may at first seem paradoxical, The person who thinks of his body as indecent cannot shake these negatives merely by hiding it; the indecency must always remain.
The latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, in discussing the origin of dress, declares: “The facts appear to prove that the feeling of shame, far from being the cause of man’s covering his body, is, on the contrary, a result of this custom; and that the covering, if not used as a protection from the climate, owes its origin, at least in a great many cases, to the desire of man and woman to make themselves mutually attractive.”
If this be so, it would seem that the world-wide nudist movement is aimed at forsaking such primitive methods as bodily decoration with its inherent negative emotionalism, and literally coming out into the open, and being honest and more healthy male and female specimens of the human race.
This does not mean that anyone advocates the complete renunciation of clothing. The organization favors both indoor and outdoor activity in the nude only when it is practical, with emphasis on activity where clothing is indeed an encumbrance, such as swimming, sunbathing, and the playing of outdoor games.
To a lessening degree, though still widespread, is the impression held by the general public that a nudist “colony” is a place where naked people take part in ritualistic dancing and exercise, are zealous food faddists, and when it comes to sunshine, downright fanatics, if not actual worshippers.
Actually, nudist parks throughout the world are nothing more nor less than unpretentious summer resorts where one need not wear clothing when it is unnecessary for protection. Naturally, and by definition, nudists, while visiting a naturist park, go nude whenever existing conditions are favorable.
I have sometimes been asked whether there are separate and private lavatories for male and female members at a nudist park. This question could only be asked by one whose entire experience of going naked has been relegated to the bathroom. Nudists emphasize refinement, personal privacy, and sanitation to the same degree as their clothed American brethren.
Does constant association in a state of nakedness dull the sexual interest between marriage partners? My wife and I have not found this to be so during our six years of marriage.
Consider the many young men and women who have made their first acquaintance at a nudist resort, and who went on to form satisfactory marriages based on the needs of their individual personalities. If mere display was all that aroused adult sexual interest, the seeking out of a loved individual would be meaningless.
Although as a youth I had practiced nudism to a certain extent with like-minded friends, I never visited an organized nudist club until I was in my thirties, due mainly to limited finances. When I did, it proved to be a completely new experience. That it was legal added restfulness to what was already restful. To be nude among strangers taught us why nudists are more friendly than other social groups: the necessity of making an impression only on the basis of one’s personality, unaided by an expensive suit of clothes, or deterred by a shabby one.
My wife had never thought one way or the other about nudism. She came to camp with me without the necessity of any coaxing, and was more pleased with her all-over tan than anything else, free at last from those ugly white patches that compel outdoor women during the summer months to appear before their husbands as some sort of striped creature, literally branded as shameful by the custom of the land.
The first question that comes to everyone’s mind after their initial experience is: Why all the big to-do about hiding one’s body? Analogous to this is the usual remark made by anyone who is so naive as to go to a nudist park with salacious intent, quote: “It’s Nothing.” What he really means is, “It’s Natural!”