How the International Naturist Federation (INF) Defines Naturism
Note from YNA: The International Naturist Federation (INF) was founded in 1953 when several leaders of the naturist movement came together from different countries to create a worldwide organization. They decided to focus on three languages – English, French and German – with a hyphenated name “INF-FNI” to encompass all three (FNI = Fédération Naturiste Internationale). Today they have federations in 31 different countries. Most naturists have likely come across the INF definition of “naturism” before, if not some form of it. But their definition has changed a few times, and in this new report, INF council member Stéphane Deschênes discusses how and why this definition changed, and what the official definition is today in each of the 3 languages.
As shown in the PDF chart (link below), it’s interesting that the original definition began: “Naturism (American ‘Nudism’) is a way of life in harmony with nature…” This shows how “naturism” was once considered the European term, while “nudism” was the American term, and the INF treated them as synonyms. In 1998, they eliminated all references to “nudism” in the official definition.
Today both terms are used in the USA. However “nudism” is still more common, and “naturist” is often mistakenly written or referenced as “naturalist.” (A naturalist is someone who studies plants and animals.) We at YNA have defined these terms ourselves, and we’ve also polled leaders in the community on what it means to be a nudist / naturist, with a variety of answers.
But the INF definition is important, and many naturists use it throughout the world (along with their own variations of it). So check out Stéphane’s report on the official definition below.
Article by: Stéphane Deschênes
Assessor for Non-European Countries for the International Naturist Federation (INF-FNI)
Since it was first adopted by the INF-FNI in 1974, the definition of naturism has always been fundamentally the same, but the exact wording used by federations, magazines, books and websites has varied a lot. In some cases, the differences have been significant enough to alter the meaning.
The INF-FNI has been asked on many occasions to provide the official wording. Unfortunately the INF-FNI records have not been consistent either. As such, the INF-FNI Central Committee tasked me with a project to research and hopefully determine the official wording of the INF-FNI’s definition of naturism.
For many years, the most official publication of the INF-FNI was the International Naturist Guide; later retitled the World Naturist Guide. I reviewed the complete collection at the American Nudist Research Library (ANRL) in Cypress Cove, Kissimmee, Florida, USA. Each edition included an introduction, in all 3 official languages, that included the definition of naturism. (See Appendix A)
The German definition has been very consistent throughout. The English and French definitions were also very consistent for the first two decades. Then some very significant changes appeared in the 1998-1999 guide. More changes were made in the 2004-2005 edition.
Given the importance of the definition, changes could not have been made without an official motion approved by the General Assembly during either a congress or an extraordinary meeting. If those motions did not happen then the changes were made in error.
The two congresses to be considered are the 1996 Congress in Athena Antwerpen, Belgium (the congress that preceded the 1998-1999 guide) and the 2002 Congress in Cypress Cove, USA. (the congress that preceded the 2004-2005 guide)
The INF-FNI office was able to provide me with the minutes of the 2002 Congress. There was no discussion whatsover regarding the definition. The 2004-2005 guide changes were therefore made in error.
Unfortunately, the INF-FNI office was unable to find the minutes of the 1996 Congress. As such I consulted an alternative source: the INFFNI Bulletin. This was the official newsletter of the INF-FNI which was sent to the federations. The ANRL had copies of all issues from 1983 to 2000.
The 1995-1996 issues discuss the upcoming congress in great details but never mention any upcoming discussion regarding the definition. The 1996-1997 post-congress issues makes no mention whatsoever of a change in the official definition. It seems reasonable to assume that if there had been a change it would have been worthy of a prominent mention in the INF-FNI Bulletin. We can therefore conclude the 1998-1999 guide changes were also made in error.
Evidence of the source of the error can be found in issue #100 of the English version of INF-FNI Bulletin (May 1997) where the INF-FNI President, Wolfgang Weinreich, writes an article about naturism where he erroneously quotes the following as the “1974 Agde definition”:
“Naturism is a lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterized by self-respect as well as respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.”
In the same issue of the INF-FNI Bulletin, Karl Dressen (past INF-FNI president) unintentionally illustrates the problem. On page 10 he says that “the basic definition agreed at the 1974 Congress in Agde” is:
”Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature. It is expressed in common nakedness, associated with self-respect, as well as respect of people of a different opinion and of the world about us”.
It seems likely that the changes in the definition were introduced when the German version was re-translated into English and French rather than using the original approved definition.
- The definition in all 3 languages was consistent for 20 years in the INF-FNI guide.
- The German definition has never changed.
- There is no evidence that any changes were approved at the 1996 or 2002 congresses.
- There is evidence of unintended changes due to translation.
It can therefore be concluded that the official definition is as published in the INF-FNI guides from 1976 to 1997.
Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.
Le naturisme est une manière de vivre en harmonie avec la nature caractérisée par une pratique de la nudité en commun qui a pour but de favoriser le respect de soi-même, le respect des autres et celui de l’environnement.
Der Naturismus ist eine Lebensart in Harmonie mit der Natur. Sie kommt zum Ausdruck in der gemeinschaftlichen Nacktheit, verbunden mit Selbstachtung sowie Respektierung der Andersdenkenden und der Umwelt.
Click here to view Appendix A – a chart showing the variations of the definition from 1974 – 2015, in all three INF languages (in PDF format).