Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Taking off One's Clothes

CAPE TIMES - 1933, 19 July


Miss JAN GAY, a young American, did the Grand Tour of the European Nudist Colonies in 1933.
GR Stevens reviewed ON GOING NAKED, Miss Gay’s book on the Ethics and Aesthetics of taking off one’s clothes.
Not fewer than 134 nudist colonies in Germany were listed where members might be as naked as the liked in parks or secluded retreats. Some were physical culture clubs, while others taught dancing or eurythmics. Sometimes Vegetarianism or similar practices were combined with nakedness. A few colonies were economic in intention, living and working under strict communism.
Miss Gay did not throw any particular light on the motives which underlie nudism. Various aspects – sensuous, aesthetic, ethical and economic – were jumbled up in her mind, and she justified an aesthetic objection with an economic argument.
Her personal impulses were sensuous, as she had always loved sunlight and rain, wind and the cool of evenings on her skin. This was an admirable reason for taking off her clothes. She proved that there was something to be said for nudism on a number of counts, and that as a movement it possesses a certain significance.
The aesthetic argument, like the sensuous argument, was self-evident. To her, clothes were ugly compared with beautiful bodies, but she admitted that all bodies are not beautiful.
The ethical aspects were controversial. It seemed possible that there might be some advantages in a naked society and that there was a basis for the German contention that nudism was an antidote to sexual promiscuity, a corrective for the over-sexing engendered by the hiving in cities and a better preparation for satisfactory mating than the conventional artificial courtship.
On economic grounds nudism was no more than a minor offshoot of Communism, of little importance until Jack Frost would become a proletarian. At that stage, he nipped Communists and Capitalists alike, and the best of theories had to suffer if they involved chilblains.

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