It took a little white to get the nude beaches that exist around the world today.
There’s nothing quite as freeing as being naked, yet it’s still considered taboo. We were all born naked, but you can’t just strip down at any beach or kick it poolside in your birthday suit. Nudity may not be mainstream, but there are still places you can go to let it all hang out with like-minded folks. Nude beaches have been around for nearly 100 years thanks to the progressive thinking of one Kurt Barthel. You’re welcome, nudists and curious teens everywhere.
Before we can start talking about the creation of nude beaches, we have to take a trip down memory lane. In the mid-1800s, rich Europeans started vacationing on beaches all over the country. Hot spots were turned into regulated resorts, which was great, but regulation means rules and rules can be a bummer. By the end of the 19th Century, skinny dipping at designated beaches was frowned upon, meaning beachgoers had to invest in swimsuits or stay off the sand.
Barthel, however, decided to take a stand. In 1929, he started the American League for Physical Culture, known today as the American Association for Nude Recreation. That was one small step for nudists, one giant leap away from unnecessary clothes. In 1932, the father of the American nudist movement opened Sky Farm in New Jersey, the first nudist camp in the United States. It may have been the great depression, but the folks at Sky Farm were probably living it up.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, King Edward the VIII and mistress Wallis Simpson were looking to get away. The pair decided to take a cruise on the Adriatic Sea, and stopped at the island of Rab (now part of Croatia). They wanted to hit the beach, and they wanted to do it naked, so they hit up the local government for permission. Nerds. Anyway, the government gave them the green light, and the first official nude beach in the world was born.
Not people to be outdone, France caught wind of the idea and nude beaches started popping up all over the country. One beach in particular, Montalivet Beach, led the charge in nudist culture. This also led to the start of a trend called “Naturism,” which spread like wildfire throughout the world in the 20th Century. Naturism is basically the idea that clothes are unnecessary.
Naturism paired perfectly with the free-flowing hippie lifestyle of the 1960s and nudism took off around the world. A “free beach movement” emerges, begging the question of why beachgoers can’t go naked when swimming, surfing, tanning, or whatever it is they’re doing on the beach. It seems like a fair question to us, but in 1972 officials started fighting back, cracking down on nudity on California beaches. Venice beach was hit especially hard.
Original publication 14 August, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 29th August 2020
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