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Photo: Sandruz (CC-NC- ND)
In harmony with nature

Nudism in Europe - here’s a colourful potpourri of our last summer. Don’t expect here very serious thoughts or conclusions; we’ve just been lying in the sun and thinking. (We’re sure you’ll understand.) In this article we bring together three different points - our short brainstorm about nudism and sexuality, an interview with two young nudists- Diana from France and Barbara from Germany and last, but not least a practical map for you for next summer, if - after reading this article - you decide that nudism is something for you.

It might come as a surprise to most of us, but European naturism, also called nudism, did not start with beaches or ideas about lazy summery sunbathing. It was actually born, in its modern form, in Germany, with the Lebensreform movement of the early twentieth century: sport, a healthy and natural education, harmony with nature, as well as vegetarianism. A cluster of ideas spread at that time, and being nude was part of that. In fact, the Congress of the International Naturist Federation in 1974 still defined naturism as "a lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterised by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment." This kind of naturism was originally practised in clubs, by people mostly looking for a whole different and healthier way of life, and not just being naked. Only later in the century, with the development of holiday and leisure culture, did anonymous nudist beaches open around Europe, attracting a more diverse public of people new to nudism, wanting to discover it or to experiment. In Eastern Europe, this public and open nudism was also encouraged because a private organisation would have been frowned upon by communist governments. Of course, this largely open opportunity contributed to the spread of the phenomenon, and attracted very different people - creating two different worlds of nudism. But nowadays, nudists don't hesitate to go from one type of place to the other.

In particular, the uninformed idea that nudism might have something to do with sensuality and sexual attraction(..) began to gain some supporters even within the nudist population.

Nudists today are a very diverse population. While it used to be a very family oriented activity, associated with recreational sports - some clubs even rejected singles - the public beaches, not being affiliated to a club, appealed also to young and single persons. Of course, this in turn led to a lot of changes in the movement. In particular, the uninformed idea that nudism might have something to do with sensuality and sexual attraction, totally out of place in the original movement of naturism, began to gain some supporters even within the nudist population. Today, while most, if not all nudists and nudist organization refuse to be linked with any kind of sexual portraiture of the body, some acknowledge some kind of sensual side to nudist situations, like Euro Naturist (www.euronaturist.com). Nudist holiday resorts advertisements usually makes generous use of pictures with young females models, obviously meant to attract customers, and so do magazines like Health&Efficiency naturist (http://www.henaturist.net/joomla/). This tendency is frowned upon by a substantial part of the nudist community, and is a controversial issue among nudists.

Cover photo: jaimesantoni

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