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Nudism - Past to Present

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Posted on Nov 28, 2005 at 12:57 PM Total posts: 5
Nudism Past to Present: The Bare Facts March 12, 1988 by Sunbather53 "We believe in the essential wholesomeness of all human bodies and of the natural functions and activities which they perform. We believe in the naturalness of social nudism and we consider that exposure of the entire human body to sun, light and air is beneficial. We believe that we have the right to practice social nudism, provided that we do not infringe upon the rights of others." The above philosophy espoused on the back of my membership card to the American Sunbathing Association, the largest social nudist organization in the United States, is very simple: being nude is being natural. Nudists believe that clothing restricts the enjoyment of outdoor activities plus the comforts of one's home. Nudists are not opposed to wearing clothes. Valid reasons for wearing clothing exist to include protection against the weather, safety while working, cooking, sanitation, and of course adornment (cultural or non-cultural). Most nudists, or naturists as some prefer to be called, abide by the principle of being clothed when practical and unclothed when possible. If you take of your clothes in private or with friends of the same sex, you are naked. To be naked can mean humiliating exposure, discomfort and shame. It can also satisfy a common need of man, that is the desire to be seen which is as basic as the desire to see. To see another person naked can reassure, alarm, satisfy curiosity, provoke guilt, arouse desire, or provoke disgust. For some people nakedness signifies liberation and a joyful and un-neurotic sexuality. For others it stands for a lewdness threatening traditional moral standards. Both of these seemingly contradictory attitudes rest on a common assumption: that the exposed body is emotionally and visually sensual and potentially morally subversive. of course, if you take off your clothes in mixed company with people you don't know, you are an exhibitionist; or if they are naked too, a nudist (Clapham 2). In France the opposite of a nudist is a textile, one who wears clothes when it's unnecessary. More than fifteen million people in twenty-two countries throughout the world are not textiles (in other words part of the nudist community). For example, in the South of France one can walk through a shopping complex, full of naked people, out onto a beach and for a mile or more not see a single swimsuit or article of clothing. In addition this nudist resort offers bars, supermarkets, restaurants, plus night clubs (Clapham 3, 5). The majority of the Christian community believes we started out as nudists in the Garden of Eden with His full blessing. However, today most religions believe social nudity is at the very least sinful. The opinions on this particular lifestyle are varied throughout the scientific, legal, medical, and religious communities. To appreciate nudism as it exists today it is necessary to examine its origins, whether it be the Garden of Eden or prehistoric Neanderthals. Desmond Morris, a zoologist, states there are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes. One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair (Morris 9). The exception to the above is a naked ape self-named Homo Sapiens. it is an unusual and highly successful species which spends a great deal of time examining it's higher motives and an equal amount of time ignoring it's fundamental ones. Their skin is virtually naked except for conspicuous tufts of hair on the head, in the armpits and around the genitals. Their skin surface is completely exposed. When compared with other primate species, the contrast is dramatic. Some species of monkeys and apes have small naked patches of skin on their rumps, faces, or chests, but nowhere amongst the other one hundred ninety-two species is there anything approaching the human condition. A survey of the range of living mammals proves that they are remarkably attached to their protective, furry covering, and that very few of the 4,237 species in existence have seen fit to abandon it (Morris 15, 16). Unlike their reptilian ancestors, mammals have acquired the great physiological advantage of being able to maintain a constant and high body temperature. This keeps the delicate machinery of the body processes tuned in for top performance. The temperature-controlling devices are of such vital importance that the possession of a thick, hairy, insulating coat obviously plays a major role in preventing heat loss. in intense sunlight it also prevents over-heating and damage to the skin from direct exposure to the sun's rays. If the naked ape's hair had to go, then clearly there was a very powerful reason for it. With few evolutionary exceptions this drastic step has been taken only when mammals have launched themselves into an entirely new medium (Morris 16). During the timeframe when the naked ape's ancestors dwelled in trees they were quite content to munch fruit and quietly mind their own business. The climate began to work against them around fifteen million years ago reducing their forest strongholds. These ancestors left the forests to compete as carnivores or grazers. From this hunting ape developed a territorial ape (Morris 19). The territorial ape best explains the hairless condition of the present-day naked ape. by coming out of the shady forests the hunting ape was exposing himself to much greater temperatures than previously experienced. By losing the heavy coat of hair and by increasing the number of sweat glands all over the body surface, considerable cooling could be achieved with the production of a generous film of evaporating liquid over the air-exposed limbs and trunks (Morris 26). Having determined how the naked ape in fact became naked the next step is to determine why they began covering their bodies. It has been theorized that cultural restrictions began in the form of clothing to curtail sexual signaling between males and females in public. The most obvious example is the hallowed and proverbial fig-leaf with its prodigious variations. As the species spread into colder climates it also became practical to cover up but this timeframe occurred much later (Morris 63). With varying cultural conditions, the spread of the anti-sexual garments has varied, sometimes extending to other secondary sexual signals (breast coverings, lip veils), sometimes not. It has also been the reverse. Decoration of the body for sexual, aggressive, or other social purposes is a widespread phenomenon unique to this species (Morris 65). In addition to the loss of hair the biological temperature control mechanisms adapted to meet these changes. Higher metabolic rates plus the addition of subcutaneous tissue underneath the surface of the skin permits the loss of hair to be compensated for adequately (Morris 45). All of the aforementioned theories of change serve to explain the why's of our naked condition. Having established this point, examination of the recent return of some members of the Homo Sapiens to a natural state is considered. The difference between antiquity, where nudity was a natural part of life, and the clothed present with all its complexes relate specifically to religion. Christian dogma, with the concept of Adam and Eve's original sin, brought about a religious fervor in the Middle Ages. At that time nudity came to symbolize exactly the opposite of what it had stood for in antiquity. The naked body, subject to the appalling transformations of time, acted as the most potent reminder of the transience of human life. The medieval association of the naked and the dead remained current in Northern Europe right into the Renaissance, at a time when more classical notions of the human body were being revived (Jacobs 8, 9). Not until the nineteenth century did the popularity of the unclothed body begin to appear. Social nudism began in Germany and it was the German initiative which paved the way for the current millions who practice it today. In fact, Germany remains the driving force behind the movement and has more active supporters than any other country (Clapham 6). In 1811 a large park, now Tempelhof airport, Herr Friedrich Ludwig Jahn founded the first Turnverein. the Turnverein, or gymnastics club, introduced physical education into the German school system. Doing push-ups, hiking in the woods while signing folk songs, sunbathing in the nude, kicking soccer balls, jumping, hopping, and running were the principle activities (Clapham 6). In 1855 a Swiss physician, Arnold Rikli, opened a sun and air bath sanatorium in the Austrian mountains. Throughout Europe the medical community found that sunlight and fresh air were enemies of many diseases at a time when medicines were primitive but diseases were increasing. Endorsed by medical opinion many Germans felt justified in their back-to-nature way of life (Clapham 11). During the last decade of the nineteenth century Henrich Pudor wrote a book entitled The Cult of the Nude. As a doctor of philosophy and practicing sociologist he cited many benefits of nude living creating such a positive climate for social nudism he became known as the the father of nudism (Clapham 11). A German intellectual, Richard Ungewitter, believed that a naked society would not only be healthier but suffer less from sexual neuroses (Clapham 12). Finally, in 1903 the worlds first nudist resort was built. Freilichtpark (Free Light Park was a large area of secluded woodland north of Hamburg when Paul Zimmermann bought it. Platonic nudists from all over the world came to sample the naked way of life in this Baltic chilly climate. Thousands of nudists from thirty different countries have visited it since its opening. The resort closed in 1981 principally because of its influence. Sun-loving Germans can now flock to the permissive nudists resorts of the Mediterranean with its warmer climate and beaches causing the demise of Europes premier naturist resort (Clapham 14). Nudism thrived in the German
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