Posted: July 22, 2021
Probably every member of the American Association for Nude Recreation has cringed at the sound of the phrase “nudist colony.” But why the visceral reaction to just a couple of innocent words? And, for that matter, where did the term originate?
In English, the term “colony” has several meanings, none of which seem to apply to nudists. The 13 original Colonies (always capitalized) are venerated as defeating the British and establishing the independence of a group of folks in the Western Hemisphere. In this sense, a colony is a community under full or partial control of another country. The colonists didn’t have any say in how they were treated or what they were expected to do. Almost every American school child can recite the phrase “Taxation without representation is tyranny,” even if they are not sure who said it and why. And nudists are, hopefully, not taxed by tyrants.
A colony in the world of living creatures is defined as “many individual creatures living and acting as one organism.” In this regard, there are insect colonies (ants, bees, and termites); marine colonies (coral and sea anemone), and even one colonial mammal (the blesmol, also known as a naked mole rat). Well, at least the word “naked” appears, but it still does not seem to apply to nudists. Nudists are not blind and do not live underground, as the blesmol does. Besides, the spirit of cooperation required of a colony of living creatures is not generally typified by the group(s) of independent folks that one would find in most nudist clubs!
A third connotation of colony is somewhat derogatory, as in a “leper colony.” The purpose of such a colony was to quarantine unclean or unwanted individuals who were stigmatized by having a disease that was thought to be highly contagious. In reality, the disease is easily controlled, although that has not always been the case. And certainly, nudists do not see themselves as needing quarantine except, perhaps, when voluntarily participating in nude recreation in appropriate settings – at a club, resort, ranch, park, or nude beach.
Seriously, how did the nudists become colonists if they do not “fit” the definition of any of the generally accepted meanings of a colony? Perhaps it is because the French have long invested in landed sites by the sea for summer recreation for both adults and children. These were named “colonie des vacances.” Most French school children would spend a week or more each summer at a colonie, which in America might simply be called summer camp. Often, the entire family would participate and, because it was by the sea, the participation was nude or partially nude. It is well known that the French are much more open-minded about such things than much of the rest of the world.
So, continue to enjoy that nudist venue – whatever it may be called – and continue to educate the public that, unlike the French, American nudists don’t label their recreational sites colonies. Think how erudite the members of AANR will seem when they explain to the curious public that “colony,” a word that is not preferred, is simply a rough translation from the French.
Just say, “Oui – I understand.”

Taken from the AANR Monthly Bulletin, “Across the Board” brings information and thoughts from the Governing Board.

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