Who Are Our Naturist Pioneers?

Archeological evidence indicates that clothing may have become commonplace in human society around seventy-two thousand years ago. So all of us, if we could go back far enough in our genealogies, would find ancestors who we might regard as naturists. But if we define "naturist" as someone who, having grown up in a society where clothing was the norm, have chosen social nudity in appropriate places - including beaches, swimming holes, and private or semi-private locations - then it's possible to find those who first challenged society’s norms about clothing.

One of these was the Pharaoh, Amenhotep IV - who, after establishing a kind of monotheism in which the Sun God absorbed the characteristics of all the other Egyptian gods, also declared that clothing was a form of dishonesty, and therefore everyone must live their lives naked. He was not popular with the priests whose temples he had abolished. Perhaps he was afraid an assassin might hide a dagger somewhere in his garments.

Orsippus of Megara is another important naturist pioneer. At the time of the first Olympics. 776 BCE, Greek athletes in other competitions were usually naked; but Zeus, who was being honored in the festival, was thought to be conservative. Therefore the athletes in the foot race (which was the only event in these early Olympics) were required to have a girdle or probably a simple tunic that hung from the left shoulder. Orsippus let his garment fall to the ground as he started the race. Because he was the victor, it was concluded that Zeus had favored him.


Nudity became the rule at the Olympics

not only for foot races, but for discus, wrestling, and most other competitions that were added to the festival.


Fast forward to the early 20th century

When the Olympic Games were revived there was no thought of actually competing naked, but this didn't stop the artists who created stunning posters of nude athletes. These artists also should be numbered among our pioneers.

We could list many others, from varying historic events:

  • George Washington, who defends his soldiers' right to bathe in the river within sight of the towns they defended.

  • Mark Twain, who wrote of boys naked on a raft sailing down the Mississippi.

  • The cast of "Hair," who appeared naked at the end of act one in the 1968 Broadway production.

Who are your naturist pioneers?


Be a pioneer yourself. Come to Sun Clad, August 21-25. This is the first time we've offered a four-night summer camp, including a weekend, for gay naturists .

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