Naturism or Nudism is a lifestyle of practising non-sexual social nudity in private and in public; the word also refers to the cultural movement which advocates and defends that lifestyle. Both may alternatively be called nudism. Though the two terms are broadly interchangeable, nudism emphasizes the practice of nudity, whereas naturism highlights an attitude favoring harmony with nature and respect for the environment, into which that practice is integrated. That said, naturists come from a range of philosophical and cultural backgrounds; there is no single naturist ideology.

Ethical or philosophical nudism has a long history, with many advocates of the benefits of enjoying nature without clothing. At the turn of the 20th century, organizations emerged to promote social nudity and to establish private campgrounds and resorts for that purpose. Since the 1960s, with the acceptance of public places for clothing-optional recreation, individuals who do not identify themselves as naturists or nudists have been able to casually participate in nude activities. Nude recreation opportunities vary widely around the world, from isolated places known mainly to locals through officially designated nude beaches and parks and on to public spaces and buildings in some jurisdictions.


Nudity in social contexts has been practised in various forms by many cultures and in all time periods.[33] In modern Western society, social nudity is most frequently encountered in the contexts of bathing, swimming and in saunas, whether in single-sex groups, within the family, or with mixed-sex friends, but throughout history and in many contemporary tropical cultures, nudity is a norm at many sports events and competitions.

The first known use of the word naturisme occurred in 1778. A French-speaking Belgian, Jean Baptiste Luc Planchon (1734–1781), used the term to advocate nudism as a means of improving the hygiène de vie or healthy living.

The earliest known naturist club in the western sense of the word was established in British India in 1891. The Fellowship of the Naked Trust was founded by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, a widower who was a District and Sessions Judge for the Bombay Civil Service. The commune was based in Matheran and had just three members at the beginning: Crawford and two sons of an Anglican missionary, Andrew and Kellogg Calderwood. The commune fell apart when Crawford was transferred to Ratnagiri; he died soon after in 1894.

Definition and lexicology

...a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.

Many contemporary naturists and naturist organisations advocate that the practice of social nudity should not be linked with sexual activity. Some recent studies show that naturism can help grow self-esteem, and thus have a positive impact on having a well-balanced sexuality, too. For various social, cultural, and historical reasons, the lay public, the media, and many contemporary naturists and their organisations have or present a simplified view of the relationship between naturism and sexuality. Current research has begun to explore this complex relationship.

The International Naturist Federation explains:

Each country has its own kind of naturism, and even each club has its own special character, for we too, human beings, have each our own character which is reflected in our surroundings.

The usage and definition of these terms varies geographically and historically.Naturism and nudism have the same meaning in the United States, but there is a clear distinction between the two terms in Great Britain.

In naturist parlance, the terms "textile" or "textilist" refer to non-naturist persons, behaviours or facilities (e.g. "the textile beach starts at the flag", "they are a mixed couple – he is naturist, she is textile"). "Textile" is the predominant term used in the UK ("textilist" is unknown in British naturist magazines, including H&E naturist), although some naturists avoid using this term due to perceived negative or derogatory connotations. "Textilist" is said to be used interchangeably with "textile", but no dictionary definition to this effect exists, nor are there any equivalent examples of use in mainstream literature such as those for textile.