For this post we would really appreciate your input because we only have experience with naturist sites in Western Europe and Brazil. We’ve been doing some research on the internet but except for some formal websites it’s difficult to determine how people at the other end of the world look at naturism.
So from wherever you are, please let us know how/if naturism is appreciated in your environment.
Is it legal? Is it something you talk about? Are there any official naturist sites or is it more an unofficial thing?These kind of things…
Alright, that said, let me tell you what we do know 🙂
The reason why we wanted to write this post was because of another post we’ve read on Travels of Adam: On nudity It gives a clear idea on how someone from the USA, where in many states public nudity is not as commonly accepted as in Western Europe, experiences a public sauna in Germany (could be anywhere in Western Europe though) where nudity is quite accepted. Even though naturism still has a bit of a dark side over here, being naked in the sauna is a normal thing to do.
However, many visitors of saunas don’t consider themselves naturists and don’t visit other kinds of naturist sites.
Note: The numbers are only an indication, not scientifically proved…
Nudism in Western Europe
If we would calculate the total surface of naturist sites within every country and compare this with the whole surface of those countries, the Netherlands would win head and shoulders. For a country that small (total size about 40 000 square kilometers) the number of naturist sites is enormous: about 60 naturist campings, 120 saunas and 83 nude beaches.
Really, We tell you, this is naturist heaven.
In comparison, Belgium which is about three fourth the size of the Netherlands, right next door and has the same weather counts only 7 naturist campings, 12 saunas and one nude beach.
What does that say about the Dutch? Or about us Belgians? We’ll leave that in the middle.
Germany counts about 110 campings but only 5 beaches and 3 saunas. France has about 144 campings and 126 beaches, but has much better weather than the previous. Also in France there is the world famous (or infamous…) Cap D’Agde, a real naturist village
Spain, which is roughly the size of France only counts 12 naturist campings and 65 nude beaches but quite some nude resorts.
A surprise to us was Great Britain which also counts about 50 naturist campings and several nude beaches.
Most of the other countries in western Europe only count a couple of naturist sites, or none at all. Another surprise for us was Croatia, which is quite know for its naturist tourism only counts about 15 campings. But they’re centralized in a small part of Croatia (Istria) and they’re really really big.
Nudism in the Americas
Except for Brazil and a couple of islands in the Caribbean, naturism is not widely spread in South and Central America. The main reason for this could be that people in general are more religious than in Europe and the governments can be quite conservative.
It’s more difficult to understand what’s going on in North America.
For most part of the last couple of decades Europe and North America walked hand in hand. They got big together and they shared the same interests. In the 20th century the upcoming of feminism and the sexual revolution (two important factors for the rise of naturism in Europe) happened at about the same time.
And yet what a difference concerning naturism…
There are some known naturist organizations in the USA but they seem to be very idealist in terms of the connection to nature and the disapproval of meat, alcohol and tobacco. But in most states there’s very little to be found for the recreational naturist.
We came up with a couple of reasons for that.
First of all, because of the history with the Puritans the Americans in general have more conservative ideas that the Europeans. But on the other hand, the Europeans in the beginning of the 19th century were also quite conservative but it didn’t stop them from going naked. So there must be more…
Law and politics could be an important factor. Where the law on nudity on TV and in magazines is quite loose in Europe, it’ s still very strict in the USA (remember Janet Jackson’s nipple gate). This in combination with the huge porn industry has probably created a strong connection between nudity and sex.
And a thing that’s easily looked over is the history of saunas. For many people (including ourselves) the sauna is the first step to naturism. In Western Europe we somewhat took over the old Swedish tradition of saunas. This is not the case for the USA.
And no, we did not forget the Canadians 🙂
Canada seems to be somewhere in between. Recent research has shown that 4 out of 10 Canadians walk around naked in their homes without even thinking about it. But in public it’s another story… In terms of naturism Canada is way more liberal than the USA but recreational naturism is certainly not (yet) on the same level as in Europe.
Nudism in Australia and New Zealand
The Aussie does what the Aussie wants to do and if the Aussies want to get naked there’s nobody who will stop them.
No seriously, it seems like Australia and NZ are doing quite well in liberating naturism. We haven’t been there (yet) but from browsing the internet there seem to be quite some naturist campings and resorts. Also the first naturist backpacker hostel was founded there, now that’s futuristic. We wonder how that is going…
Nudism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East
In the middle East there’s no such thing as naturism. Period. And of course it all has to do with religion and the lack of female emancipation. We won’t discuss this here because we’re planning to write a whole post about it later but as far as we know there’s a high probability that certain body parts will be chopped off if they leave the bathroom uncovered (1).
The exception here is Israel which does count several naturist organizations.
Maybe Dubai could also be different, if someone knows, please share with us.
Asia and Africa are much comparable with the Middle East for the exact same reasons (2). Although you might find some naturist beaches or resorts over there, they will be mostly be used exclusively by the Western tourist.
(1) It has pointed out to us that this is of course depending on the regime. Most Muslim regimes don’t use severe physical punishments for these kinds of crime.
(2) Note that we’re being very simplistic here. Depending on how you interpret “naturism”, it can be a very broad term. We chose here to narrow it down to the existence of nudist beaches and resorts and the laws on public nudity. Of course naturism can mean a lot more. Many countries have a history in clothes free living and social public nudity. Think about certain tribes in Africa and South America for example. Also the occurrence of nudity as a way of protest was not mentioned here and neither was private (home) nudism.
Much of the above information is based on what we’ve found on the internet. But we would really appreciate your insights!
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34 thoughts on “Something about cultural differences”
As you say the situation here in the United States is a mess. Those of us who are naturists, and others who are not opposed to public nudity are mostly too timid to speak up in favor of naturism lest those who oppose naturism accuse them of being perverts, sexual abusers, or just evil people. Although the number of people who genuinely oppose naturism probably is relatively small no one seems to be willing to stand up to them and tell the truth about naturism.
Most naturists in this country do everything possible to hide their naturist activities from their families, neighbors, friends, coworkers, and everyone else because they fear that if their secret lifestyle was revealed, somehow their lives would be ruined. Of course, the chance that this might happen is pretty remote, but fear is a mostly irrational thing.
So, since we have so little political power and so few of us are willing to fight for what we believe in, there is little chance that things will improve any time soon.
We have to admit that in the beginning we also didn’t tell anyone we became nudists, because we feared the reactions. But once we started telling people it was a surprise how positive the reactions were. Some congratulated us for our courage, others thought it was something they wanted to try too, a few even admitted that they also like some nudie time once in a while. Others didn’t really have an opinion, but we didn’t get a single negative reaction. Of course, we still don’t tell everyone (our grandmothers don’t know anything, although we doubt that they would be very shocked).
According to the US, we don’t have a lot of insight (because we’re from Europe) but to us it seems like it’s changing a bit. There was Free The Nipple, we saw some discussions about being topless was allowed in New York and Seattle and there were of course the nude holiday photos of Justin Bieber and Orlando Bloom… That’s a lot of non-sexual related nudity in the media, maybe it will drip down to the masses… We have high hopes!
Good Day from DownUnder (that’s OZ Australia) I’m not young or too old yet. With much regret my wife never took to the naturist concept and never would now considering she had cancer enter her life whilst in her 50’s.
There is much to be desired about naturism in Sunny Queensland ,it’s the only State in the whole of Australia that does not allow naturism as a legal status so one can end up in court and even jail.
Queensland is very Victorian in attitude and beliefs and although there are clubs in this State the enthusiasm to join has been on the decline since the 60’s and much to be desired with those clubs. Just to give you an idea we live close to a naturist club and the owner wants to sell due to a gold mine of pure sand beneath their property. Currently if one visits which must be all but 15 years for me one has to write ones name down on an arrival sheet and this is given to the Police due to the huge rise in perverts that appear to have surfaced in comparatively recent years.
The constant ramblings about skin cancer in the media and the harrowing portray of the grim ripper on TV has taken its toll ,plus the gap in our ozone has given rise to fear of being out in our Feinstein sun.Yes the sun is painfully hot and 50 plus uv is essential otherwise one can be burnt quite badly and you can tell from seeing those who look like lobsters who has been very badly affected by the Suns rays.
I grew up in Britain and migrated to Australia long before the migration of the human race became an issue. I had an opportunity to travel all over Europe and visit naturist clubs and resorts long before I ever met and considered marriage. I did tell my parents about my interest and my sibling who all thought there was something wrong with me.
Today I would still like to participate in the movement but fear it will never be a part of my life.
There are some signs that public nudity is becoming more acceptable here in the US. The Free The Nipple campaign and the World Naked Bike Rides have had very few problems and raised very little opposition. I believe it is becoming apparent that most people are not really opposed to other people being nude in public. They are beginning to realize the naturism is a harmless activity that ought to be tolerated by society.
In addition, Americans’ opinion of nudity varies widely with the situation. Most people are eager to see revealing pictures of celebrities, but not their neighbors or strangers at the beach or on the street.
That’s a first step: Finding it ok that people enjoy nude recreation as long as they don’t have to see it. Yes, it’s quite hypocrite, but at least it’s something.
The more nudists feel like the rest of the world isn’t against them anymore, the more they will practice nudism, the more likely they’ll end up somewhere in the media and thus the more the masses will get used to nudism. It’s a work in progress.
Unfortunately, the idea that it’s “not ok” to be a nudist is only one of several reasons why nudists don’t come out of their closet…
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Very interesting article! I can share with you that public nudity in China (Asia) is forbidden. There used to be a public nude beach in one of the towns at the coast in the south of the country, but unfortunately this one has been closed several years ago.
Meanwhile, people don’t bother to go naked in the (separated) changing rooms of sports clubs for instance. It is very normal to take your time for showering and changing while others are around. 🙂
If someone has more information, feel free to share!
We had no idea that there used to be a nude beach in China… So the government used to be less strict about public nudity… What could have happened?
Is nudism something that lives among the Chinese? Are there any organisations that try to legalise it?
Is there actually a word for nudism in Chinese?
“Asia and Africa are much comparable with the Middle East for the exact same reasons. ”
The is a somewhat inaccurate statement just because something isn’t labeled naturism according to European convention doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Also the current diminishment of simple everyday nudity in Africa is directly tied to colonial European convention. I like your blog but be careful categorical statements that are not fully factual can be death to a good blog when fact checked. If you want more info on what I mentioned let me know I will point you in the direction of the information.
Thanks a lot for your comment EarlD and of course you’re totally right!
The purpose of this post was to give a general overview on how “naturism as we know it in the west” is practiced or not practiced in the different continents.
The foundation we used for this was the availability of nude beaches and accommodation for nudists in combination with the law on public nudity.
Private (home) naturism can occur in literally every house in the world, so we skipped that and of course we could have dug a lot deeper into the tribe culture and ancient habits but then we would end up with a 300 page book instead of a blog post giving a general overview.
That’s the issue, though. If we want to get an accurate view we have to dig deeply, use different search terms and connect with people around the world. Such an effort wouldn’t necessarily require a 300-page book, even an overview would be possible; it would simply read that “yes there are people engaged in clothes free living in these areas” instead of “nope, not there.” It’s an ongoing effort that requires outreach, collaboration, observation and continued research.
“Naturism as we know it in the west” was built off of these very cultures that are now ignored. People live(d) clothes free without the label, until colonists imposed their religious ideals on them and then took that very concept and turned it into their novel idea and now create clubs that price people out of the experience itself and call it “naturism.”
Some cultures continue with clothes free living today. These experiences in other cultures are not just “home” and in private. These are social, cultural, shared experiences. These cultures came first and didn’t (don’t) wait for a beach or need a resort. They simply live(d) clothes free as they are, and Earl D did a collection of pieces about this earlier this year on clothesfreelife.com. The tendency to look past these experiences as not legitimate naturism can be very othering, potentially make some see it as cultural appropriation, cult-like, restricting and non inclusive and honestly a disservice to spreading the word about living clothes free. Some think it’s a rare and novel concept, when truly it’s not and there are already existing avenues to use to help further the conversation.
Looking for beaches and resorts as representation of naturism not only limits the frame of “naturism” itself and makes it as this elite, expensive experiences that people have to purchase, it also leaves out of the conversation all the current political and social work happening in other countries. Women in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt have been protesting clothes free to reclaim their rights and autonomy. I’ve also learned about women being politically active clothes free in Cameroon during political upheaval in the 1990s. I’ve also written on things I’ve learned about political activism from women in Mexico and Peru. There’s actually a huge conversation happening in the world of women right now about reclaiming their bodies, right and autonomy in many areas around the world, and this is QUITE powerful for women, but because the Board of Naturists as I sometimes experience many doesn’t think it’s legitimate because they aren’t lounging out on a beach, they skip over it. It’s fascinating, because there is always the question of “how to get more women involved” but when we then show what’s important to us, if you ask women themselves, this kind of activity is very very important to many and, at the same time, quite controversial to still other women. It’s so significant, but people don’t care because we’re not lying naked on a beach or playing water volleyball at a club. Our clothes free political activity doesn’t matter, even though this very channel is one of the ways some women see as absolutely critical to overcoming the very oppression mentioned in this piece. And other women would disagree, and that’s perfectly fine, because we’re all humans with different convictions.
On clothesfreelife.com we’ve being doing some research on this while also reaching out to other contributors to get their lived experiences. You’ll see later today a post from a guy in Indonesia speaking to the culture of nudism there and in surrounding areas.
I’m sharing this not to pick at this particular piece, but to address a recurring claim that other areas of the world have never and currently are not living clothes free in their everyday social shared lives. That non beach, non resort endeavors aren’t valid. I’ve heard this ever since I started clothes free living. As a minority woman, it is very painful and discouraging to see other cultures overlooked just because they don’t have a beach or a resort. This happens a lot to us in life generally. People take our lifestyles (e.g. fashion, hair, food) and say we look like criminals or bums for it, but then Marc Jacobs can put locs on his models and people think it’s high fashion and fierce and he can charge an arm and a leg for his clothes because of it. Same in naturism. People take a concept that folks had already been doing, make all these organizations, charge for clubs, and say it’s revolutionary. But other cultures have been doing it all along without the press, without the labels, just shared lived experiences, because what was natural to them didn’t need a label.
Wow what an interesting comment and such great insights. You left us speechless for a moment.
We certainly didn’t leave out public nudity in culture or protest because we think it’s not important, but because we wanted to give an overview we’ve simplified certain parts.
But your comment is completely justified and we’ve added a note at the bottom of the post explaining that we’ve been quite simplistic.
Anyway, your comment is very much appreciated! As we say in the first and second paragraph of the post we were hoping to get some insights. Your comment is more than we could hope for.
I hear ya about the general overview all I am saying is by the standard defined by the international Naturist Federation the aspects of naturism that aren’t about beaches and resorts exist in some of the places you suggest it doesn’t. The INF also says difference countries express naturism differently. All this not to take away what you have done here, but to sharpen and broaden the dialogue. You are doing a good thing and I hope the input and response you get continues and you continue to share thoughts, experiences and ideas that create dialogue.
Exactly, we never claimed to have all the wisdom (actually we mention a couple of times in the post that we don’t) but we were hoping to get some conversation started from which we all can learn. I guess we quite accomplished that.
But it was a mistake to cover three continents in two little saying sentences. It could be interesting to dig deeper into that in a future post.
The number of official naturist facilities is not a good indication of the acceptability of nudity and Naturism. There are very few naturist facilities in Sweden, but a much greater acceptance of public nudity than a country such as England with far more facilities. England is a prudish country, with similar attitudes to nudity in saunas and spas as in the USA. I frequently walk naked in the French and Spanish Pyrenees and have never found any problems. Walking naked in England is likely to attract the attention of the police. The laws are the same, nudity is not illegal in any of these countries but the police in the UK will use general public order laws, intended to deal with violence and threatening behaviour to persecute Naturists.
Thanks for your insights Brian!
Thank you for your initiative in posting this blog, I find it informative and enjoyable. I have increased my understanding of the scope of Nudist/Naturist activities world-wide and I must say I am impressed by the scope of it, having started at the end of the 19th century it has become a movement of considerable size. I am optimistic for the future of the phenomenon.
I’m a nudist for reasons of health, comfort, economics, and convenience. I recognize the human body as a miracle of bioengineering and aesthetics, and I see no valid reason to restrict it with fabric beyond warmth and protection. I do find myself in the minority, however, in the USA. Public nudity in America will get you arrested for indecency.
I had the good fortune recently to join my fellow nudists at a bowling alley that we reserve exclusively from time to time for an afternoon of bowling in the buff, and it was an absolutely wonderful experience! I wrote about it at http://csp-media.deviantart.com/journal/Nude-Bowling-657759952
Here in the good ole US of A we are so far behind Europe in my opinion. Being an American and someone who lived outside the United States I can say first hand Americans as a hole don’t understand and look at naturist as weird. I very thankful when I meet open minded people who can see naturism for what it really is and accept the freedom of losing ones clothing. We are making some progress here but there is still a lot of work to be done.
I’d like to let you know that Finland is not at all liberal when it comes to naturism despite of the sauna cul-ture. There are no official nude beaches (one in Helsinki were men and women are separated and cannot see each other) and only one in the whole country where it’s tolerated. There has been some improve-ment in accepting public breast feeding but no topless sunbathing exists. People used to resist social norms more courageously in 1970s and 1980s but after that political correctness has stormed through the Finnish (and also Swedish and Norwegian) culture and nowadays you can’t even see naked children in parks swimming which used to be common still in 1990s.
Wow, we didn’t know that… We always thought of Finland to be quite liberal when it comes to nudism…
I’ve noticed that by following tweets from naturists around the world but can’t find any Finnish one’s! There were only seven of us in the World Naked Bike Ride Helsinki and I was the only Finn but still a patrol car was present making sure that no genital could be seen by threatening us with police investigation and consideration of charges. 😀
As always, great posts. I will look into the Netherlands. We were not aware. My wife and I want to go to Europe and experience naturist spots. We are in California and have to drive very far to our favorite place.
I’m so glad that I found you… or you found me 🙂 Yes, I’m Australian and love the comment that Australians do what they want to do. I’ve been travelling for more than a year throughout Europe and have a sense of both the flexibility of Australians and the contrasts with many other countries. Actually Australia is very quickly becoming over-regulated. Yes, saunas and nudity in Northern Europe are such a lovely thing. I found that it was considered unhygienic to wear clothes in some countries (in the sauna). I have stripped off in a Berlin park in the middle of Winter, with Berliners, to do cold immersion in the lake. I have had restaurant meals naked in the Netherlands. I’m in Spain at the moment and found that there is often a place at the end of a beach, undesignated, but people hang out naked and swim. However, I have been told that this doesn’t happen. Yes, one needs to dig deeper, and being an Australian helps because I actually don’t have any swimmers and find many places where I can discretely swim. I’m not really interested in going to Nudist beaches… isn’t it just a part of life? Fingers crossed I haven’t been arrested yet. And yes, Free the Nipple is great as are other forms of Body Activism.So much more to say but I’ll be back 🙂
No worries, chances that you’ll be arrested are rather small in Europe, if you stay away from the sight of churches you should probably be fine. And otherwise pretend to be the dumb tourist “Hey I’m Australian, In my country we do this all the time…” They won’t have a clue 🙂
Glad you enjoy our blog and have a great time around Europe!
Haha it’s true. I’ve actually been living on and off in Europe for the past 10 years and I have never had a problem.
Hi! So lovely to find you. I think you found me actually 🙂 Yes, I’m an Aussie and I love the comment that Aussies will do what they want. This is often true and certainly I feel like I am that person haha! I have another
We have found that in Spain nudity on the beach is widely accepted, and often found naturists and textiles side by side even on the busy tourist sections of beaches. Since nudity is legal everywhere except where specific bylaws prohibit it, the need to designate nude beaches has all but disappeared.
I live in Massachusetts, US and here we have about a handful of nudist campgrounds and resorts in the six New England states. Although skinny dipping is not legal on Massachusetts beaches in general it is accepted at some traditional clothing optional beaches. Aquina, on the southern tip of the island of Martha’s Vineyard, is one such place. I’ve actually waved at park rangers traveling by on their all terrain vehicles with no ill effects. It is not permitted to climb the dunes or touch their clay walls. The rangers will have something to say if you do.
Vermont has no state law forbidding nudity, but one may not undress in public. An interesting distinction. I have gone skinny dipping in Vermont in a State Park where the etiquette is skinny dippers and textiles take turns or swim separately.
The Ledges, in Vermont, is another great spot. It is a beach on a cove on a lake a short hike from and out of sight of a park with swimming, boating and picnic picnic areas. Each year the naturists hold a pot luck family BBQ and picnic. It’s accessible by foot and boat and even has a rope ‘swing’ over the water!
Very interesting article, but very wrong when it comes to Germany… There are at least a dozen saunas just here in Berlin, and I have found a sauna in every smaller town I have been to. Nudity is standard and mandatory in saunas here, because wearing swim suits is considered “unhygenic” in saunas.
Here in Berlin, it is also perfectly legal to sunbath naked in public parks. There are dozens of parks where nudists can be found among clothed sunbathers, as well as various official designated FKK areas at many of the lakes.
FKK stands Frei Körper Kultur (Free Body Culture), which has been around since the early 1900s, and was especially very popular in former East Germany.
I live two minutes walk from one of the smaller lakes, which is very popular with nudists. Whenever the weather permits, I go there for an hour after lunch, sunbath naked, and for a nude swim in the lake. It truly is nudist heaven!
Ironically, and unfortunately, anything marked “FKK Sauna” tends to be a brothel, so be careful when googling!
Thanks a lot for these insights!
Many of the things you mention are also in the new version of this blog post: https://www.nakedwanderings.com/blog/2019/04/15/nudism-naturism-around-world-europe/
Here’s an interesting article about nudism in Berlin for you: https://www.zitty.de/nackt-ist-frei/
(and, yes, the Herman in there is me)
Here in Germany there are also cultural differences due to the two states(East – GDR, and West – Federal Republic) for some decades.
In East-Germany the attitude is more relaxed, because FKK was very common.
After the disappearence of the GDR most beaches on the Baltic Sea were downgraded, because the West-Germans tend to be more prudish and they wanted to attract them as tourists. So, there are still beach zones with FKK and some clothing optional, but also many textile designated areas.
The difference can be explained as religion was more present in West-Germany as opposed to the socialist state where it wasn´t encouraged and the equality was more important. Which doesn´t mean there are no FKK places in West-Germany – there are some.
TBH I´m not the biggest fan of the Baltic Sea, because it´s usually very crowded and prices are steep for everything, because tourism is in many areas the only real source of income.
FKK/nudism is however a common thing on most lakes throughout East-Germany, so there are plenty of opportunities and no need to go to the sea.
In contrast, in Munich you can also be naked in the English Garden in a certain area.
I can´t confirm that you can be nude in every park in Berlin or any other cities, as someone stated here. Sure, it might often be tolerated outside the designated areas, but only that. Even the linked article mentions that these are mostly no official areas. I also heard that sometimes the police was called, and they asked the nudists to get dressed. So, it is at your own risk. There was also the case of a woman who sued the city because the police forbid here to sunbathe topless. Haven´t heard how it went, but there was also a demonstration in solidarity for her.