No Shirt, No Problem: Nudism in America

by Alana Cowan

For many of us that were born and raised in the states, our culture alludes to many of the world’s nudist colonies to be in far reaches of the world, particularly Europe. But did you that know there are many places where it’s socially acceptable to be a nudist in the United States? That’s right! Even in New York City, the cultural mecca of the United States, women are legally allowed to walk around completely topless (although full-on nudity is still illegal). People who are exercising their rights are “naturists” and here’s where they’re doing it!

As a philosophy, the practice of nudism is commonly referred to as naturism, and has a small–but enthusiastic–following in a number of countries around the world. It’s not about sex, but a preference to abandon the artificial and unnecessary use of clothing to cover parts of the body. However, since nudity is often considered socially unacceptable, naturists often have difficulties finding travel destinations where they can practice their lifestyle and have their state of nudity accepted.

Many countries have laws that make nudity in a public place either a crime, or at least a misdemeanor offense. Also, many societies associate nudity with erotic entertainments, which is either strictly controlled or forbidden. As a result, naturist destinations are often in remote and discretely advertised to avoid attracting the undesired attention of those who might interfere with their lifestyle.

The most common naturist destinations are beaches, where nude bathing and sunbathing are either tolerated in practice or formally permitted. Whether naturism is tolerated at a particular beach is usually judged from local information, the relative remoteness of the location and whether the naturist feels inconspicuous. A few of the most famous nudist shorelines in the US that have longstanding nudist use, attracting many thousands of annual visitors including Black’s Beach in La Jolia, CA, Gunnison Beach in Sandy Hook, NJ, Haulover Beach Miami, FL, and Little Beach Maui, HI.

Information on public and private locations can be found on sites such as American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) and The Naturist Society (TNS).

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