Posted: February 17, 2022
BG Parkes Suwannee Valley Resort

BG Parkes

Nude for Holistic Health
This story begins over 100 years ago. In 1918 World War I raged on in Europe, American soldiers returned home with horror stories and injuries … physical and mental. They also brought with them the Spanish flu – one of, if not the deadliest, epidemics in American history. Back then, hospitals and doctors had few weapons to combat such a disease. What was known was that two things appeared to speed the recovery of the sick – fresh air and sunshine. Soon the roaring twenties arrived and brought a stronger appreciation for life and health. This led to the American form of “health retreat.” These destination resorts boasted healthy food, hot and cold pools, exercise, group therapy, spas, and large doses of fresh air and sunshine, something that the exploding industrialization and urbanization of America could not. Americans briefly escaped the factories and big cities for holidays away in the countryside or oceanside. Based upon the German/English model of Natural living, entire “bathing communities” emerged in the hills and forests of New England, Midwest, California, and southwest desert. Western Europeans also had a stronger appreciation for the health benefits of nudism and it was also practiced in the U.S. during this time, as much as American sensibilities toward nudity would permit. In 1933 a paper was written by Howard Warren, Princeton psychologist and President of the American Psychological Association, that would change the mindset toward nudity forever. Warren’s article, “Social Nudism and the Body Taboo,” was published approximately a year after he visited a nudist resort in Germany, and it builds upon the 1902 published work of Dr. Heinrich Pudor, a German and a naturist. Pudor wrote of the benefits of naturism through exercise, sunshine, fresh air, spa baths, and a healthy diet. Sound familiar?
In 1929 Kurt Barthel started the first American nudist club known as the American League for Physical Culture (ALPC). A couple of years later, in December 1931, a second organization was founded as the International Nudist League, renamed quickly to the International Nudist Conference, further renamed a few years later as the American Sunbathing Association.
AANR is the largest, longest-established organization of its kind in North America. It was founded in 1931 and went under its previous name American Sunbathing Association.
Nudist pioneer Christiane Lecocq founded one of the first naturist clubs in Europe and was instrumental in bringing the naked lifestyle into the mainstream. Lecocq and her husband Albert set up the French Naturist Federation (FFN) in 1950, which spawned an international branch three years later and is seen as the spearhead of a movement that now boasts some 16 million members across 38 different countries.
Muriel Howell’s offbeat history, appetite for learning, and sense of community have made her 53 years in Hamilton rather busy. Mrs. Howell moved to New Zealand from Britain in 1956 with husband Stan and daughters Amanda (Manda) and Kim. The couple settled in Hamilton. They became members of the Waikato Outdoor Society in 1967, conservatively named to avoid prejudice in an era when such activities were frowned upon. “In those days we couldn’t even advertise the club as a nudist club, so we advertised it as an outdoor society,” Mrs. Howell was quoted saying.
Thus, the American Nudist Resort was born. But it was not until 1967 that psychologist Paul Bindrim pioneered nude therapy. It should be noted that Nudism here is considered “a non-sexual behavior” as opposed to exhibitionism or voyeurism.
All great civilizations have celebrated naked beauty. Yoko Ono, although not considered a great beauty, had her body grace the cover of a record album, and in 1968 she and John Lennon released their experimental album Two Virgins with a nude cover.
Two of the most famous magazine covers to ever grace a publication were both fronted by Demi Moore in the nude. Both shot by Annie Leibovitz, the first displayed a heavily pregnant Demi in her birthday suit and the second one a thinner Demi in a painted suit. The cover of pregnant Demi is considered one of the most highly regarded magazine covers of all time and started the trend for celebrities to grace the covers of magazines with their pregnant bellies.
“Jack, I want you to draw me like one of your French girls.” Who could forget this iconic quote and the iconic scene that followed? Kate Winslet, known for not being shy on camera, disrobed for the only nude scene in the movie Titanic. Wearing only the Heart of the Ocean necklace, Rose poses nude on a couch and lets herself be sketched by Jack. This scene was probably one of the most romantic and tastefully depicted images of nudity on film, with music that definitely contributed to the atmosphere of the scene.
Marianna Hoppe-Handler, Free Beach Advocate, “Mother” of San Onofre Beach, was first active in the ’70s and ’80s along with her daughter, Michelle, on the East Coast defending the rights of others to go nude on Moonstone Beach in Rhode Island. Ultimately, after several years of fight and a few compromises, the nudists lost their battle when the town council outlawed nude use of the beach. This didn’t stop Marianna. In 1985 she closed her house and moved lock, stock, and beach floppy sandals to the West Coast where she eventually became an active member of Friends of San Onofre, a nude beach group in Southern California. She became known as the “Beach Mom” out there as well.
Here is an additional “right from the horse’s mouth” as Marianna wrote to us recently: “In 1995 the authorities wanted to close San Onofre to nude use. That is when I STARTED Friends of San Onofre Beach, put out a newsletter, and started to negotiate with the rangers. By policing the area ourselves, and teaching visitors proper nude etiquette, we gained the rangers’ and lifeguards’ respect and they worked with us. Even though nude use is not strictly “legal,” by allowing it now for so long we would have a good case should they want to arrest anybody for simple nudity. They even admit now at the gate that there is a nude area. We have come a long way.
You can find nude beaches or resorts worldwide, and nudity remains common in bathhouses around the globe. Naturist and nudist communities continue to fight against the default-sexual stigmas of nakedness, and since 2012, the Free the Nipple movement, founded by Lina Esco, has pushed specifically to decriminalize and destigmatize female toplessness.
The years 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years for us all. COVID-19 touched all of our lives. Many lost loved ones. Some lost jobs. Everyone was impacted. Worry and anxiety pressed upon us as we struggled with supply chain shortages and higher prices. Vaccines, masks, and lockdowns were the topic of conversations from our televisions to our dinner tables. Working from home, learning from home became commonplace as we battled the pandemic. Isolated, and fearful, Americans withdrew into their homes. Healthcare professionals tell us a rising number of Americans struggle with depression. As I have already mentioned here, the positive effects of fresh air and sunshine are well accepted. Even before this time, it was for this reason, that the idea and practice of nudism has been a holistic pursuit for me. By “holistic” I refer to the collective health of the body, mind, and spirit. Simply walking on soil barefooted is believed to relieve stress, lift anxiety, and improve mood. Holistic healers call this phenomenon “grounding.” How much more of a connection for the nudist? The nudist and naturist communities offer a bright remedy to so many in a sad and dark world. The next time you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and feel the fresh clean air in your lungs do not take it for granted, know that your body truly needs it. The physical benefits are remarkable.
Now we have TikTok, Instagram, and other social media doubling down with images … celebrities, models, and influencers. They flout airbrushed and photoshopped figures and physiques. Not just perfect but beyond. We have the metaverse, we create Avatars as alter egos. The digital world pulls us down further into a computer or cell phone screen. We shop online, order hot meals delivered. Never leave the house or apartment. Nudism and naturism are the absolute anti-social media cure for this. Sit on a beautiful beach or sunny pool deck with a naked stranger. Make a new friend, laugh and share and commiserate. Live in the tangible world, with transparent people. Every nudist eventually accepts a new extended family. Experience the real.
I believe what AANR and all nudist locations offer is timely and important. I believe our purpose is bigger than just fun. I believe we are and can be a healing place, or a ministry or therapeutic, or cathartic, or just an escape from a difficult reality, or just fun. We are more than a pool or a hot tub, or music, we are people. Our unapologetic identity is nudism and naturism and all that those words imply, but nothing more. At the end of the day, nudism is about social interaction and social acceptance. The facilities are important because they make us safe. The activities are important because they make us engage with each other. The people are important because they make us look at ourselves. But the common thread is the freedom from textile … the honesty of nudity, the easy camaraderie. We respect and protect the freedoms of every consenting adult to express themselves as they please. The mission is to provide our guests and members with a safe and secure environment to pursue their lives undressed.

Have a thought or comment?
Share it below:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *