Funny–our realtor did not point out the nudist camp around the corner from our new house when we were getting ready to sign the papers. Location, location.
Lake o’the Woods dates from the 1933 when a group of Chicago-based investors settled their club on a parcel of farmland and marshy woods they bought in Valparaiso, Indiana, around some small, attractive lakes. Proud to be the second oldest nudist club in the US, the camp “advocates social and recreational outdoor nudity as a good-health (gesundheit!) practice,” laying claim to Freikörperkultur, or Free Body Culture (FKK) principles. It’s a rustic place, offering family-friendly “non-sexual social nudity.” Its posted sign greets guests: “Welcome All Ye Who Seek Sunshine and Rest for Here They Are Abundant.”
Nudists, naturists, FKK-adherents, as they might variously choose names, claim that the human form is not by itself sexually provocative as it becomes when framed, say, by teeny bikinis or high hemlines. They contrast themselves to “textiles,” those of us who prefer to cover bodies with cloth. As Brian Hoffman explains in his book, Naked, American nudist culture finds its roots in the inspiration of German immigrants.
Part of a more general movement in search of health and spiritual regeneration against the backdrop of urbanization and industrial life, late-nineteenth-century Germans dubbed their movement Freikörperkultur. FKK sought release from the constrained, artificial, and stratified, seeking instead connection with nature and with other human beings, sunshine on bare skin, fresh air, and vigorous exercise. A recent New York Times article by Katrin Bennhold analyzing public nudity in Germany (“A Very German Idea of Freedom: Nude Ping-Pong,” etc.) observes that Germans embrace nudity as a kind of freedom. Believe in it? I’ve seen it done: waders in a Black Forest stream casually leaving their clothes behind on the grassy bank, families wriggling back into sturdy cotton underwear after a splash in the park sprinkler. In FKK and other conceptions, freedom might be found by abandoning cloth; class differences, shed with jacket and petticoat and undergarment, were to become virtually invisible.
Original publication September 9, 2019
Posted on NatCorn 20th September 2019
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.