4-14. Naturism promotes mental health.
4. A nudist is not a body lacking something (that is, clothing). Rather, a clothed person is a whole and
complete naked body, plus clothes.
5. Many psychologists say that clothing is an extension of ourselves. The clothes we wear are an expression
of who we are.4 The Naturist's comfort with casual nudity, therefore, represents an attitude which is comfortable
with the self as it is in its most basic state, without modification or deceit.
6. Clothes-compulsiveness creates insecurity about one's body. Studies show that nudism, on the other
hand, promotes a positive body self-concept.5
These effects are especially significant for women. Studies by Daniel DeGoede in 1984 confirmed research
done 16 years earlier,6 which established that "of all the groups measured (nudist males, non-nudist males, nudist
females, and non-nudist females), the nudist females scored highest on body concept, and the non-nudist females
scored lowest." 7
7. Nudism promotes wholeness of body, rather than setting aside parts of the body as unwholesome and
8. Clothes-compulsiveness locks us into a constant battle between individuality and conformity of dress.
Nudity frees us from this anxiety, by fostering a climate of comfortable individuality without pretense.
9. The practice of nudism is, for nudists, an immensely freeing experience. In freeing oneself to be nude in
the presence of others, including members of the other sex, the nudist also gives up all the social baggage that goes
along with the nudity taboo.
The North American Guide to Nude Recreation notes that "one reason why a nude lifestyle is so refreshing
is that it delivers us temporarily from the game of clothes. It's hard to imagine how much clothing contributes to the
grip of daily tensions until we see what it's like to socialize without them. Clothing locks us into a collective
unreality that prescribes complex responses to social status, roles and expected behaviors. In shedding our daily
'uniforms,' we also shed a weighty burden of anxieties. For a while, at least, we don't have to play the endless
charade of projected images we call 'daily life.' . . . For once in your life you are part of a situation where age,
occupation and social status don't really count for much. You'll find yourself relating more on the basis of who you
really are instead of who your clothes say you are." 9 This analysis is borne out by experience.
10. The sense of "freedom" that comes from the nudist experience is consistently rated by nudists as one of
the main reasons they stay in it.10
11. Nudism, by freeing the body, helps free the mind and spirit. An irrational clothes-compulsiveness may
inhibit psychological growth and health.
Dr. Robert Henley Woody writes, "fear of revealing one's body is a defense. To keep clothing on at all
times when it is unnecessary for social protocol or physical comfort is to armour oneself in a manner that will block
new behaviors that could introduce more healthful and rewarding alternatives; and promote psychological
12. The nudist, literally, has nothing to hide. He or she therefore has less stress, a fact supported by
In the words of Paul Ableman: "Removing your clothes symbolizes 'taking off' civilization and its cares.
The nudist is stripped not only of garments but of the need to 'dress a part,' of form and display, of ceremony and all
the constraints of a complex etiquette. . . . Further than this, the nudist symbolically takes off a great burden of
responsibility. By taking off his clothes, he takes off the pressing issues of his day. For the time being, he is no
longer committed to causes, opposed to this or that trend, in short a citizen. He becomes . . . a free being once
13. Clothing hides the natural diversity of human body shapes and sizes. When people are never exposed to
nudity, they grow up with misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations about the body based on biased or
misinformed sources--for instance, from advertising or mass media.
As a result, breast augmentation has long been the leading form of cosmetic surgery in the U.S. In the
1980s, American women had more than 100,000 operations per year to alter their breasts.14 Helen Gurley Brown,
past editor of Cosmopolitan, says, "I don't think 80 percent of the women in this country have any idea what other
women's bosoms look like. They have this idealized idea of how other people's bosoms are. . . . My God, isn't it
ridiculous to be an emancipated woman and not really know what a woman's body looks like except your own?" 15
Paul Fussell notes, by contrast, that "a little time spent on Naturist beaches will persuade most women that their
breasts and hips are not, as they may think when alone, appalled by their mirrors, 'abnormal,' but quite natural,
'abnormal' ones belonging entirely to the nonexistent creatures depicted in ideal painting and sculpture. The same
with men: if you think nature has been unfair to you in the sexual anatomy sweepstakes, spend some time among the
Naturists. You will learn that every man looks roughly the same--quite small, that is, and that heroic fixtures are not
just extremely rare, they are deformities." 16
14. Clothing hides and therefore creates mystery and ignorance about natural body processes, such as
pregnancy, adolescence, and aging. Children (and even adults) who grow up in a nudist environment have far less
anxiety about these natural processes than those who are never exposed to them.
Margaret Mead writes, "clothes separate us from our own bodies as well as from the bodies of others. The
more society . . . muffles the human body in clothes . . . camouflages pregnancy . . . and hides breastfeeding, the
more individual and bizarre will be the child's attempts to understand, to piece together a very imperfect knowledge
of the life-cycle of the two sexes and an understanding of the particular state of maturity of his or her body." 17
4. See, for example, Steele 45, and L. Smith.
5. Story, "Comparisons of Body Self-Concept" 99-112; Story, "Comparison Studies" 77. Studies show that 53% of
high school girls are unhappy with their bodies at age 13. By age 18, 78% are unhappy (Glazer 115). See also
Brody 96, 135-37.
6. See Blank et al.
7. See DeGoede. See also related research in Herold et al. 138.
8. For supporting research, see Story, "Comparisons of Body Self-Concept."
9. North American Guide 12-14.
10. See Hartman et al; Weinberg, "Becoming a Nudist" 245-46; Ilfeld and Lauer 167-70. For two typical personal
accounts, and an excellent analysis, see Westheimer and Lieberman 59-60.
11. Woody 15-16. Dr. Woody also proposes, in very general terms, a means of overcoming clothes-compulsiveness.
See pp. 16-17.
12. See Hartman et al.; Ableman 92.
13. Ableman 92.
14. Palmer 125; Seager and Olsen 80 [chart 35]; Schloss 49.
15. "Women Looking at Women" 13.
16. Fussell 211.
17. Jan Smith 77, quoting from Male and Female by Margaret Mead.