Timeline of social nudity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This timeline records the degree of acceptance given to the naked human body by diverse human cultures throughout history. It records the way primitive nakedness has been challenged and the wearing of clothing enforced. It also catalogs events that have in their turn challenged the wearing of clothes to allow nudity within the public gaze.

Young Spartans Exercising, depicted by Edgar Degas, c. 1860


  • 70,000 BP: Humans first wore clothing, a date suggested by evidence based on Lice DNA which shows when the clothing louse first began to diverge genetically from the human head louse.[1]
  • 720 BC: According to one legend, an athlete, Orsippos of Megara who discards his loincloth wins his race at the Olympic Games. A variation of the legend asserts that the loincloth accidentally falls off a runner at the Olympics who trips on it, strikes his head, and dies.[2] So for reasons of either improved athletic performance or for safety, ancient Greek Olympic athletes compete naked.[3]
  • From c. 650 BC in Sparta, both women and men occasionally went nude in certain festivals and exercise.[4]
The Adamites, a Christian sect that practiced holy nudity, date back to the 2nd century AD
  • 1st century AD: Historian Diodorus Siculus records that the Celts commonly fought naked in battle.[5] Nudity is mentioned several times in the New Testament, although none of the examples give it the sexual meaning it carries today. For example, refusal to wear clothes could be a sign of insanity during this period.[6] Nakedness was also used as a symbol of poverty or vulnerability.[7][8] There are a few New Testament references to actual nudity, such as (Mark 14:52) in which a young man runs away naked from the Garden of Gethsemane, and (John 21:7) where Peter is described as naked while he is fishing. Some say that the term means semi-naked, arguing that it is unlikely that a Jew would go completely unclothed in public, although others argue that fishermen in the Sea of Galilee did actually work naked.[9]
  • 100 AD to 18th century – the Adamites, were adherents of an Early Christian sect that flourished in North Africa in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, but knew later revivals. They practiced "holy nudism", claiming that its members were re-established in Adam and Eve's state of original innocence.
  • 201–1500 AD: The first known liturgy of baptism, recorded by Saint Hippolytus of Rome in the early 3rd century, insists on complete nudity for all participants, even down to the removal of jewellery and hair fastenings.[10] Baptism was later segregated by sex, as suggested by a scene depicted on a 5th-century lead font,[11] but still conducted on an unclothed participant. Christian groups, including the Adamites, Carpocratians, Aquarii, and Marcosians all practiced social nudity.[12]
  • 393 AD: Students in ancient Greece exercised and received instruction naked and athletes competed naked. This tradition ended in 393 AD, when the Christian Emperor Theodosius I bans the Olympic Games because he considers them Pagan.
  • 632 AD Quran teachings transmitted by Muhammad impose 'modest dress' on men and women.
  • c. 1050 AD: Leofric, Earl of Mercia, imposed a heavy tax burden on the citizens of Coventry, England, to support his grandiose public works. According to legend, his wife Godgyfu begged him to reduce the tax, and he told her that she had to ride naked through the city's market before he would do it. Godgyfu, remembered as Lady Godiva, accepted the challenge.[13]
  • In Kamakura-period Japan (1185–1333), religious bathing was provided to the public free of charge, with no concept of gender segregation. After the collapse of free services, a for-pay system emerged which later evolved to become the modern day sentō.


Finnish Sauna (1802)
  • 1840s: Nude bathing was common on the beaches of the United Kingdom by this decade.[citation needed]
  • 1868: Approximate year of the introduction of the swimming-costume. Most swimming, if not all, was done naked up to this point, because wearing clothing of any sort was extremely cumbersome and thus dangerous to the swimmer.[14]
  • 1870s: The diary of Rev. Robert Francis Kilvert, documents the transition in Victorian England from the acceptance of nude bathing to the mandatory use of swimming-costumes. In an 1874 entry, Kilvert notes being brought "a pair of very short red and white striped drawers to cover my nakedness" after he had finished bathing at Seaton, and being so "unaccustomed to such things and customs" that he had "set at nought the conventionalities of the place".[15]
  • 1874: While surfing developed across Polynesia as a nude activity, it remained so only until 19th century missionaries forced the natives into covering themselves. The Mother Hubbard dress, a Victorian garment designed to cover the whole body from wrists to ankles was imposed on native women. This dress code, however, was often ignored; a British engraving from 1874 shows a set of waves being ridden by nearly a dozen Hawaiian surfers, male and female, all of them naked.[16]
  • 1891 Earliest known naturist club in the world. Founded by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, District and Sessions Judge for the Bombay Civil Service at Thana, India.[17]


The Doukhobors, a sect of Russian origin marching nude in a protest in Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1900s
Organised nudism. Postcard of the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony, San Diego, California. (1935)
  • 1933: In Germany, Nazi edict banned many nudist organizations; but nudists re-formed as "sports" groups and were re-legalized.[27]


Nambassa hippie festival New Zealand 1978


NakedBerlin Group of nude men among hundreds of tourists at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in 1999 (photographed by Team Henning von Berg)
  • 1991: High Court of New Zealand quashes an "offensive behaviour" conviction for sunbathing nude on a public beach in the presence of children, on the grounds that, as nudity is "not uncommon" on the beach in question, a reasonable person would not be moved to "anger, disgust, or outrage" by the behaviour.[40]
  • 1991: Gwen Jacob goes topless in Guelph, Ontario, Canada on a hot day. She was eventually acquitted of public indecency in 1996 by the Ontario Court of Appeal on the basis that the act of being topless is not in itself a sexual act or indecent.[41] While this decision was only binding within Ontario, it is considered highly influential, and has been referenced and upheld several times, including in other jurisdictions.
  • 1992: Photographer Spencer Tunick starts documenting the live nude figure in public.
  • 1992: September: First annual Nude & Breast Freedom Parade in Berkeley, California.
  • 1992: Peter Cleall addresses the Brighton Solidarity Network while naked.
  • 1992–96: Painted naked cyclists at the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade in Seattle.
  • 1992-07-18: Four go topfree for protest at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. [source N 12.2]
  • 1992-07-27: About 20 topfree women protest in Brattleboro, Vermont. [source N 12.2]
  • 1992-09: Andrew Martinez attends a class—Russian history—without clothes at University of California - Berkeley. [source N 12.2]
  • 1992-10-11: X-plicit Players go nude or topfree in Berkeley, CA from Smokey Joe's Cafe on Shattuck Ave. to Cafe Milano on Telegraph to support NY topfree victory. [source N 12.2]
  • 1994–2002: Photographer "Harvey" photographs nudes in public urban environments. [source: Paul Rapoport]
  • 1995: The Burning Man festival has since moved to Black Rock Desert, Nevada, with 4,000 participants. The camp becomes the most populous settlement (albeit temporary) in Nevada's Pershing County, and is known as "Black Rock City".
  • 1996-12-06: Three women walk naked up Mount Warning in Mount Warning National Park, Australia, which is recorded in the opening sequence of the Synetech video Naked Celebrations.[42]
  • 1997: Writer and performance artist, David Robert Lewis disrobes in front of the South African National Gallery in a naked art ritual and public nudity event entitled decontamination.
  • 1997-04-06: The first demonstration in favour of Australian Belongil Beach becoming a nude beach.[42]
  • Summer 1997: Vincent Bethell starts writing letters to The Home Office and his Member of Parliament questioning the law regarding public nakedness.
  • Early 1998: Two men and two women walked naked up Mt. Warning, as done similarly in 1996.[42]
  • 1998-08-24: Evangeline Godron swims bare-chested in the Wascana pool (not for the first time) in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. [source: TERA]
  • 1999-04 – Annual event "April Fool's Naked Run" in Portland, Oregon. Approximately 30 participants. [source: Terri Sue Webb]
  • 1999-07-07: Photographer Henning von Berg organizes the world’s first and only-ever male nude photo shoot inside a parliament building as a social-political statement. The group photo series NAKED BERLIN – The Liberal Capital features six naked men inside the historical Reichstag building and at nine other famous landmarks in Berlin.[43]
  • 1999-07-28: First protest by The Freedom to be Yourself at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
  • 1999-10: Ohio State University female Rugby-players pose bare-chested for a photo at the Lincoln Memorial and are punished harshly by the University. [source N 19.3]
  • 1999-10-03: Naked anti-nuclear weapons protesters march down Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. [source N 19.3]


NakedSydney photographer Henning von Berg and his group of nude women in front of the Sydney Opera House, 2005
World Naked Bike Ride participants in Toronto, 2013
  • 2001-07-01: The Freedom to be Yourself protest in London, England on July 1, 2001
  • 2002: First nude rugby match in Dunedin, New Zealand. The match becomes a tradition held each year until 2014, beyond which it becomes sporadic.[44]
  • 2003: National Nude Day (New Zealand). Marc Ellis, a presenter on the New Zealand TV show SportsCafe, declares "National Nude Day", challenging viewers to streak in front of then Prime Minister Helen Clark.[45] National Nude Day becomes an annual (although not regularly scheduled) event on the show, inviting viewer photography and videos of everyday activities being performed nude.[46] Several Dunedin student pubs run offer specials for nude patrons on the day.[47] Later rebranded "World Nude Day" or "International Nude Day", the event outlives the end of SportsCafe in 2005 by at least four years.
  • 2003-12-06: The Durango Herald of Colorado reports that fifteen "mostly naked bike riders marked the 26th birthday of a friend with a streak through downtown Durango".[48]
  • 2004-06-12: World Naked Bike Ride (1st year)
  • 2005-02: Photographer Henning von Berg documents a group of naked women in Downtown Sydney, Australia. He takes photos in front of major touristic highlights, including the Commonwealth Bank, Hyde Park, Queen Victoria's statue, the National Treasure Bank, a leading TV broadcast studio, the iconic Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge.[49]
  • 2005-07-01: The first naked crossing of the European Alps.[50]
  • 2008 FEMEN is a political protest group in Ukraine, started by Hanna Hutsol.
  • 2009-07-11: AANR coordinates a skinny dipping event at 3:00PM throughout North America. The event is recorded by The Guinness Book of World Records as "largest number of people simultaneously skinny-dipping".[51]
  • 2012-11-20: San Francisco bans and criminalizes public nudity without a police-issued parade permit. However, female toplessness is still allowed throughout the city.[52] See Social nudity in San Francisco.

Repeating events[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitfield, John (2003-08-20). "Lice genes date first human clothes". Nature: news030818–7. doi:10.1038/news030818-7. ISSN 0028-0836.
  2. ^ Swaddling, Judith (2002-02-19). "The Ancient Olympic Games". Live Online. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2006-08-08.
  3. ^ "The Olympic Games". The History Channel. Archived from the original on 2006-08-24. Retrieved 2006-08-08.
  4. ^ Plutarch. "Lygurgus". The Internet Classics Archive. Translated by John Dryden.
  5. ^ Delaney, Frank (1986). The Celts. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 31. ISBN 0-316-17993-0. Some have iron breastplates of chain mail while others fight naked!, and for them the breastplate given by nature suffices.
  6. ^ Luke 8:27
  7. ^ 2 Corinthians 11:27
  8. ^ Matthew 25:36
  9. ^ Neil, James. (1913). Everyday Life in the Holy Land.
  10. ^ "The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus". Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  11. ^ Thomas, Charles. "The Walesby Tank". Christianity in Roman Britain to AD 500. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  12. ^ One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Adamites". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 174.
  13. ^ "Lady Godiva: The naked truth". BBC News. 2001-08-24. Retrieved 2006-08-11.
  14. ^ (2003). Travel Naturally, (49).
  15. ^ Cec Cinder. (1998). The Nudist Idea. Riverside, California: Ultraviolet Press.
  16. ^ Whiting, Sam (2003-10-05). "Maverick Matt Warshaw turns his passion into the definitive work on surfing". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-08-08.
  17. ^ "A History of Naturism - Timeline". British Naturism. 2011. Archived from the original on 2014-05-25. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  18. ^ Parmelee, Maurice (1929). Nudity In Modern Life The New Gymnosophy. Noel Douglas.
  19. ^ Siegelbaum, Lewis H. Soviet state and society between revolutions, 1918-1929. ISBN 978-0-521-36987-9.
  20. ^ Hamburg, Gary. Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism. The Teaching Company. ISBN 978-0-10-225024-4.
  21. ^ "Russia: Down With Shame". Time Magazine. 22 September 1924. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016.
  22. ^ Gymnosophy publication by American Gymnosophical Society Yale University Library
  23. ^ Adventures in Many Lands-Autobiographical Memoirs of Maurice Parmelee, Yale University Library
  24. ^ "Fiveacres Country Club Herts: History". Nudist UK. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011.
  25. ^ AGA statement-History, Purposeful Development and Philosophical Outlook-by Katherine & Herman Soshinsky-circa 1950, collection of Rock Lodge Club.
  26. ^ International Nude-Land Dec 1934 page30
  27. ^ Nudism in Nazi Germany: Indecent Behaviour or Physical Culture for the Well-being of the Nation
    Authors: Krüger A.; Krüger F.; Treptau S.
    Source: The International Journal of the History of Sport, Volume 19, Number 4, December 01, 2002, pp. 33-54(22)
    Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
  28. ^ a b Dvorak, Petula (5 January 2019). "Men were once arrested for baring their chests on the beach". Washington Post.
  29. ^ Cook, Hera (5 September 2013). "Story: Naturism". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  30. ^ People v. Hildabridle 92 N.W.2d 6 (1958)
  31. ^ "Arkansas Law § 5-68-204 Violates First Amendment Rights". UnconstitutionalArkansas.org.
  32. ^ "NZNF 60th Anniversary". gonatural. New Zealand Naturist Federation. 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  33. ^ "New Zealand Naturist Federation". National Library. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  34. ^ Sunshine Book Co. v. Summerfield, 355 U.S. 372 (1958)
  35. ^ PychCentral Archived 2016-01-26 at the Wayback Machine Nude psychotherpapy history by Marggarita Tartakovsky
  36. ^ Salter, Caitlin (23 November 2018). "A brief history of gonatural, New Zealand's only naturist magazine". Idealog. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  37. ^ Nude & Natural 18.4, more info in Cec. Cinder's The Nudist Idea.
  38. ^ DOWN TO EARTH CO-OP. The ConFest People
  39. ^ The Burning Man Project
  40. ^ Ceramalus v Police, AP No 76/91 (High Court of New Zealand 5 July 1991).
  41. ^ "Judgment C12668, R. vs. Jacob". Province of Ontario Court of Appeal. 1996-12-09. Retrieved 2009-02-16. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  42. ^ a b c Charles MacFarland of Synetech Video, e-mail from Dec 2003
  43. ^ NAKED BERLIN – The Liberal Capital Archived 2012-02-25 at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ Goosselink, Dave (15 June 2016). "Curtains for nude rugby in Dunedin?". Newshub. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  45. ^ "Nude Day". New Zealand A to Z. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  46. ^ "Turning the other cheek, all for fun". Stuff.co.nz. Stuff Limited. 31 January 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  47. ^ Fitzgerald, Chelle (5 April 2018). "The Demise of the Student Pub". Critic Te Arohi. Otago University Students' Association. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  48. ^ Rodebaugh, Dale (6 December 2003). "Naked birthday celebrants elude Durango police". The Durango Herald. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007.
  49. ^ Hays, Matthew (21–27 July 2005). "Naked City". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 29 May 2012.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  50. ^ Foley, Richard. "NEWT - Naked Europe Walking Tour - 2005". Archived from the original on 20 December 2008.
  51. ^ World Record Skinny Dipping
  52. ^ Wollan, Malia (November 20, 2012). "San Francisco Officials Approve a Ban on Public Nudity". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

Wight, Fred H. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands. Chicago: Moody Press. 1983

External links[edit]