History of Nudity: Introduction

Scientific evidence has shown that ‘Homo’ the genus of great apes that includes modern humans and other closely related species is about 2.3 to 2.4 million years old. The earliest known Homo sapiens remains are a group of bones found at the Omo Kibish Formation, near the Ethiopian Kibish Mountains. Originally believed to be 130,000 years old at their discovery in 1967, recent studies have dated them as far back as 195,000 years ago. Modern man belonging to the species Homo sapiens, has wandered the earth nude and ‘hairless’ for most of it’s existence. Anatomically modern humans evolved from more archaic Homo sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago.

The oldest known remnants (eight teeth) that are possibly from Homo sapiens have been found in caves in Israel, and date back to 400,000 years, putting in question mans African origins. It also places modern man’s origins closer to the Euphrates, Pison, Tigris, and Gihon Rivers, The area around these four rivers is referred to in the Bible as the location of Eden (it’s Aramaic roots mean: fruitful, well-watered). According to scientific theory various species of man were nude from more than 1 million years ago until 170,000 (based on the earliest known species of body louse).

According to the Bible we were nude until we sinned, however there is no known date for this event. We have accordingly used clothing every since then to hide our shame or cause shame in others. However some very pious individuals have stripped nude and prayed, worshiped or demonstrated their piety, divinity, or divine inspiration by performing tasks in Gods name while nude. Isaiah went 3 years naked preaching God’s word to show his piety and devotion to God.

Biblically or Scientifically, nudity dates back to our very origins. Nudity alone did not cause us shame, it was our ‘sinful’ nature that made us ashamed of ourselves and hence caused us to hide our bodies. Even the Biblical accounts say man and woman covered themselves and hid themselves from God. The modern day naturist movement has been practicing naturism since late 1800’s. Modern nudists feel our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of and seeing nudity is not the cause of “sin”. Many people believe we “sin”, because we are weak and fall pray to our physical desire clothed or not.

The Bible does not explain exactly why Adam and Eve covered themselves except for the explanation that they were ‘naked’. This either means without clothes or in Biblical terminology means they were no longer covered in the ‘Spirit’ of God, because Adam and Eve had fallen prey to the “serpents” temptation and had broke with God. Science does not explain why we are fearful of being nude except for saying it is learned behavior. In theory, clothes were invented for protection from cold, sunburn,thorns and other environmental dangers. Clothes later also served decorative purposes, and as way to display social status. Slaves of ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and other cultures were often nude depending on their rank. Criminals were also not allowed clothes, just as Christ was marched through the streets both carrying the cross and was crucified while nude.

We went from full time nudity to being clothed almost full time, but why does our society fear nudity? Some people develop Gymnophobia, which refers to an irrational fear of nudity, from of being seen nude, seeing others nude or a combination of both. Persons with gymnophobia, experience anxiety from nudity, even if they realize their fear is irrational. Fear may begin as sexual anxiety, a feeling of physical inferiority, or from feeling that nakedness leaves them exposed and unprotected.

Avoidance of nudity due to modesty or other rational or moral grounds is not gymnophobia. Many people avoid public as well as private nudity, and some have an aversion to nudity as an aspect of prudishness or body shame. However most gymnophobic persons learn how to function in general society despite the condition, by avoiding changing rooms, washrooms, showers, and beaches. Childhood gymnophobia is common due to peer pressure, bullying, and a fear of exposing sexual organs and is common during puberty.

Though non-nudists think this fear is natural, fear of nudity did not occur prior to the time clothes were invented. The Bible says God created us, we were nude, yet “it was good.” Simple nudity was not seen by God or man as evil, sinful, or fearful when we were first placed upon the earth. We were nude and quite happy about it, but this changed. Our leaders, both governmental, and spiritual have controlled our behaviors, making nudity sexual, sinful, evil, subversive, and ungodly. We who try nudism find it is neither sinful, sexual, or in opposition to spirituality, we feel it freeing, natural, and connects us to creation and therefore for us “it IS good.”

Jews were less negative towards nudity, and in fact less negative toward drugs and alcohol. Other ancient (pagan) religions existing during early Christianity embraced nudity and drugs as a way to reach euphoria and ecstasy seeing altered states of mind as ways to connect to god. Islam as shuns alcohol, nudity, and sexuality and follows the much of the same ideas of early Christianity, but with their own reasons some similar to the Christians and some differing. Extreme Christian groups saw these altered states as idolatry as worship of false gods. Monks from these groups actually Warred against these religions.

Some Christian groups attacked and destroyed places of worship, holy places and relics of these religions that used drugs and alcohol as part of their ceremonies. Also some Christian groups even resorted to infrequent bathing even to not bathing at all as a way to not to be nude. There are references to some Christians as being “Unwashed Christians.” Later in medieval Europe, winter prevented bathing as people lived in cold stone buildings and stone castles which were impossible to heat. The wood buildings of the peasants leaked cold air. This enforced nudity taboos that were established earlier, and often still prevail today. So what started as a protective necessity, a way to differentiate Christian religions from pagans, as well as social status has today become a taboo.