Nudism/Naturism: A nudist colony?

Not a nudist colony: Families swim at naturist camping spot Monts de Bussy, Haute-Vienne, France. (Photo: Alain Tanguay/Wikipedia)
Not a nudist colony: Families swim at naturist camping spot Monts de Bussy, Haute-Vienne, France. (Photo: Alain Tanguay/Wikipedia)

I hear the term every once in a while, often in a less-than-serious context: someone cracks a joke about “a nudist colony.”

I know it’s a term not used by many, if any, nudists and naturists, because it has some negative connotations, as in “a place for undesirables,” says one Wikipedia entry. Think “leper colony.”

Another Wikipedia entry says some naturists do, in fact, use the term: “Nudist colony is no longer a favored term, but it is used by naturists as a term of derision for landed clubs that have rigid non-inclusive membership criteria, and in meta-data on naturist websites.”

And I do hear the term mistakenly used by some uninitiated folks who refer to clothing-optional beaches as “nudist colonies.”

In short, it seems to be one of those terms that isn’t helping the naturism cause, and I’m thinking we need to correct people when we hear them using it.


What say you?

— Jillian

24 thoughts on “Nudism/Naturism: A nudist colony?

  1. I’m not really fussed what you call it after all its only a name. These places are for the most just nice country orientated hideaways where people go to take their clothes off and enjoy the sunshine and the outdoors. It reminds me of all those music genre titles that people like to over do in the 1990s. We go to our club just to relax and get naked as nature intended and that’s all that happens elsewhere worldwide.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term ‘nudist colony’ used by anyone other than non-nudists. Wiki isn’t always the greatest source for information (it is, after all, written by amateurs), but one of Oxford’s (THE ultimate source for writers) definitions of ‘colony’ thusly:

    “A place where a group of people with similar interests live together:
    [such as] an artists’ colony.”

    I have no problem with that. Unfortunately, public perception is important to the continuance of our lifestyle, so I guess we have to give in on this one.

    What dismays me is those among us who seek to divide rather than embrace, ie, the small, unending and pointless debate over ‘nudist’ and ‘naturist’ They’re kind of missing the whole point of social nudism and are doing more harm than good.

    Get over it, people. We all go to the same places, do the same things, behave the same way and follow the same basic nudist/naturist philosophy. You can’t tell us apart.

    We need to stick together, not get into little hissy-fits over one group or another’s attempts to feel superior because of the label they choose.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Agreed. The differences between nudists and naturists are negligible, especially to society at large. We have bigger issues to deal with, such as those who attempt to criminalize social nudity. (And all-to-often succeed in doing so.) In the U.S., the First Amendment guarantees every citizen the right to peaceably assemble. In my 15 years of being a naturist, I have never witnessed any violence at a nude/clothing-optional venue. And since the vast majority of nudist/naturist events are peaceful, that means anti-nudity laws violate our First Amendment right to gather peacefully. We need to stand together and insist that our rights be respected, just like other citizens.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not to mention the murder at a Florida resort not so long ago, the knife attack on a young woman at another Florida resort last year, and the serial killer caught at a California resort some time ago. Nude beaches are far safer.


  3. All-Nudist: If you don’t like what Wikipedia says about “Nudist Colony”, then change it. I like your definition above.

    Jillian, when someone mentions “nudist colony” then there are two observations. 1) The person saying it has never visited a nudist resort, and 2) The person saying it is very likely over 60-years old, white and male.

    Naturist is a term that is overused. To me a naturist is someone who is only nude at a beach or resort. A part-time lifestyle. Whereas a nudist lives by the motto: Clothed when necessary, otherwise, nude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The term ‘naturist’ is often confused with the term ‘naturalist’ (someone who studies nature and natural phenomena). A person could be both (I am), but they are not interchangeable terms. There is no mistaking the term ‘nudist’ however.


  4. It’s funny that you should mention “leper colony”, I have made the same semantic association myself in the past.

    The problem with nudist colonies/clubs is the notion of rules, followed by more rules, controlled by people who will TELL you what naturism (not nudism) is and is not, and who regale in their role(s) as authoritarian dictators, telling you exactly what you can do, how and when, in excruciating and tedious detail. Many, me included, just get pissed off by such “little Hitlers” whether you are talking about “Nudist Colonies” (why not ever “Naturist Colonies”?) as much as the Women’s Institute, the Boy Scouts or any and all organised religious institutions. A finger in all their eyes. They are right up there with the worst of the “Grammar Nazis”.


  5. I haven’t heard that term used for quite some time, and as others have suggested, mostly it was used, even years ago, by people who weren’t really active naturists/nudists. Actually, the last time I heard even “artist colony” used was over 15 years ago, in Australia, and I think that was in a guidebook. Not sure the locals called it a colony, even then. “Community,” seems to have replaced “colony” in many instances, I think.

    The first nudist place I ever visited, I would call a “camp.” It was really a campground, on a lake, with campsites and a few cabins, and a tennis court. Now, they have put in a solar-heated outdoor pool, but last time I visited, this past summer, I would still call it a nudist “camp.” The larger places with jacuzzi, dance floors with flashing light shows, full-bar, and other amenities, now those are “resorts.”

    I’m also glad at least a few camps survive in this era of resorts. I think camps are what were most common when social naturism/nudism began, and maybe it was more accessible to a wider (younger) part of society as a simpler and less expensive “lifestyle,” (for lack of a better term.)

    Also, I find “club” to be a term that is used differently by people in different places. I think some on here, perhaps Jillian, herself, use “club” when referring to a non-landed group that gets together for activities like indoor swims, spas, etc., and sometimes visit resorts or camps, (or even a cabane a sucre,) as a group. But, then I hear others refer to resorts or camps as clubs. Perhaps, these are the same bunch who also might still use “colony”…..


  6. Well spoken I have not heard the phrase in many years and when I think back I am unsure of how often, if any times, I have corrected the speaker. Thanks for bringing this to the forefront.


  7. We always correct someone when they use the term “colony” since most nudist belong to a landed resort or a non-landed club. Yes the term nudist is preferred.


  8. Among the definitions in my 1992 edition of the OED colony is defined as: 2(b) separated or segregated group (nudist colony). Clubs or resorts with a permanent population of nudists (naturists) – particularly those in the US perhaps – could therefore truly be called nudist colonies but in the UK we tend to live among the general populace with clubs only being occupied part of the year. So if the term has ever been used on this side of the Atlantic then to my mind it has been used incorrectly.

    But does this really matter?


  9. I sometimes wonder if Canada has any clothing optional apartment complexes or condominiums. Which still wouldn’t be a “colony” per se, but I like the idea of a place where I can socialize with others nude all year round, and only have to worry about covering up when I need to go outside.
    They’d probably be beyond my price range if they DID exist anyway.


  10. Nudist colony was coined as a derisive term in the 1930’s by the media to make fun of the nudists. To not take them seriously, to make then a lunatic fringe. To dehumanize them.


  11. Using the that term just makes me unease and I feel it’s a term that media and non-naturists use to poke fun of our way of living. the correct term since a very long time now has been “Naturist Community” or club, campgrounds and resort. That are the more polite terms. When ever I see an article on the internet and they use the term ‘colony’ I sometimes like to respond to them by using ‘Textile colonies’ just do they see the point (if at all)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, exactly! Or how about using the terms ‘Baptist Colony’ or ‘Pentecostal Colony’? I wonder if they would like to be classified like that!

      The problem is that years ago we were forced to retreat to private enclaves, by the clothed general public, to practice our lifestyle. Although those places still exist, this has changed a fair bit over the last few decades. We now have nude beaches and nude public events, such as the WNBR, Bay to Breakers funrun, nude protest marches (by Gypsy Taub, etc.) and Gay Pride parades. We are becoming more mainstream and the terminology must change with it.

      ‘Nudist Colony’ is relic from the past. It’s time to move on!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. “The correct term”… according to whom?

    “Colony” is simply wrong regardless to whom it is applied.

    “Naturist” is too similar to “Naturalist” and really does confuse those not familiar with either group. Especially the media and local legislators.

    When asked if we are Naturists, I reply, “No, we are nudists”.

    What’s wrong with “Nudist”?


    1. It’s like describing those who are non-religious. Are they called atheists, agnostics, apistivists, secularists or nones? So many titles describing much the same thing. Perplexing!

      By the way, there is another term for nudist, that’s not used very often. It’s gymnosophist, derived from the Greek word gymnos, which means nude.


  13. Again with the labels. Labels are a moving target. Eventually whatever they are called now will end up with a negative connotation and the term will be changed again. Colony infers a permanent community of individuals. It really doesn’t matter to me what they are called. I just wish there were more of them.


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