Legal Nudism

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Legal Nudism

Magazine article

By: Anonymous

Date: January 7, 1935

Source: "Legal Nudism." Time. January 7, 1935.

About the Author: Time magazine has been published since 1923 and was the first weekly newsmagazine of its kind. Today, the magazine is published in several editions printed at different locations around the world. The newsmagazine is well recognized as a leader in the growing market of news magazines and is best known for its annual edition naming the "Person of the Year," selecting one figure or group of figures judged to have the greatest impact on world affairs over the previous year.


The concept of nudism, wherein people choose to participate in regular social activities without clothing, is largely predicated upon a belief that the human body is something which one should not be ashamed of, and therefore should be able to be exhibited to its fullest extent in public. Nudism is also known as naturism, with the distinction between the terms being that nudists usually seek their own private areas where they live unclothed, whereas naturists are interested in connecting with natural areas by being unclothed.

In many countries, the concept of exposing the sexual organs and other typically concealed parts of the body in public forums is illegal and those who practice nudism are required to find private areas to be involved in these activities. One of the more popular forums for nudism, particularly in European countries is at beaches known as nude beaches. In other areas of the world, nudists often gather into social communities where they live at all times commonly known as nudist colonies, but nudists themselves prefer to call these areas nudist resorts or nudist campgrounds. The United States has more than 250 of these types of areas as well as several nudist summer camps for youth. There is an industry of nudist travel agencies that offer specific packages designed for nudists that include cruises, vacation destinations, and motorcycle races.

While critics of nudism contend that it promotes inappropriate sexual behavior and is an immoral lifestyle, nudists argue that their choices have little to do with sexuality. Nudist colonies often promote family lifestyle, and sex in public nudist areas is generally prohibited. Structured nudist societies have specific codes of conduct and discipline that prohibits public activities that are designed for sexual stimulation, and barriers are put in place to avoid incidents of sexual harassment.

Anthropologists have revealed that humans have been wearing some form of clothing for thousands of years, and nudism has also been existent in society through all of time. Public nudity was prevalent and accepted in many ancient societies and the associations between nudity and sexuality are relatively modern phenomena. In the United States, courts have defended the rights of nudists to live and practice their lifestyles in private areas.


[This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions]

[This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions]


The conflict that exists between the rights of nudists to practice their lifestyle and the general public to be removed from social behavior they view as immoral or disrespectful lies at the center of the debates over privacy and freedom of expression. While in some parts of the world little room exists for the types of expression like that practiced by nudists, in Western democracies including the United States, laws promoting freedoms of speech and expression have served to defend the rights of nudists. This article, written in 1935 at a time when public standards were more conservative than they are today, demonstrates that even when society was largely dedicated to preserving moral codes of conduct, the legal systems of the United States protected the rights of groups like nudists.

At the center of the controversy over nudism, is that unlike pornography, prostitution and strip clubs, nudism is not driven by a desire to be lewd or sexual. Even while certain acts of sexual exhibitionism, including pornography have been sanctioned as legal in some areas, they have generally been associated with deviancy and lawlessness, something that has not been attached to nudism, as this article demonstrates. Adherents of the lifestyle claim it as a personal choice not to be ashamed of their bodies and avoid connecting the lives they lead with sexuality. It is the acceptance of this position that stands behind the judgments of courts in the United States that the behavior is acceptable in private locations.

This article largely presents nudists as a group that is interested in protecting their freedoms of privacy as opposed to criminals who are threatening to demoralize society. It suggests that nudism is a personal choice that is practiced by a small fraction of the society and represents little danger in a moral sense but is rather a fringe group.

Even as decades later the justice system has continued to protect the rights of nudists to practice their lifestyles in certain specified locations, the movement has little recognition in broader society and continues to be portrayed, as it was in 1935, as eccentric but mostly harmless. This article is most significant for displaying that even decades ago when social norms were far more opposed to perceived acts of lewdness and immorality, nudism was viewed as a legitimate form of expression when practiced in private. In today's world where liberal approaches have been attached to these types of issues, nudism, while an eccentric lifestyle, would be allowed to continue to be practiced.



Selth, Jefferson P. Alternative Lifestyles: A Guide to Research Collections on Intentional Communities, Nudism, and Sexual Freedom. Wesport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1985.

Web sites

National Geographic. ""The Skinny on Nudism in the U.S." 〈〉 (accessed March 1, 2006).