Being naked shouldn’t only be confined to the bathroom and bedroom, believes Athol Lutge. After all, he was born nude.
Lutge, who is affectionately known as Lofty, is the chairperson of the South African National Naturist Association (Sanna) and said the country’s nudists refrain from being in the nude in public, but enjoy their birthday suits at designated venues.
“I do not go nude in public but at naturist resorts and naturist beaches, where we are surrounded by other naturists,” he said.
Although nudity is closely associated with sexuality, this is not the point of Sanna’s nude gatherings.
“I do not consider nudity to be sexual. I was born nude,” he said.
His organisation’s newsletter urges members to cover up any unpredictable erections while at nude gatherings and to refrain from staring, dancing in a provocative manner, sitting on someone’s genitals, kissing and touching genitals.
Despite the rules, Lutge said being nude at the resorts provides Sanna members the opportunity to embrace their “health, freedom and to be closer to nature”.
“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. I cannot think of a better lifestyle than naturism.”
While many might have body confidence issues, Lutge said being in the nude has benefits for people from all walks of life. “Naturists accept everybody, irrespective of race, sexual orientation, including families, couples and singles.”
Sanna was formed about four years ago, but naturist federations in South Africa started about 30 years ago.
It is estimated that there are around 25 000 naturists in South Africa and 30 million worldwide.
The organisation’s main goal is to promote naturism in the country and to eventually amend Section 19 (2) of the Sexual Offences Act 23 of 1969 to provide for public nudity on approved demarcated naturist beaches such as Sandy Bay in Cape Town, Secrets in Port Elizabeth, Mpenjati in Trafalgar on the South Coast and Umhlanga Lagoon near Durban.
To achieve this objective, they host events at various locations designated for group nudity like the Skinny Dipping Project, which was held on Spring Day.
Lutge said the day’s proceedings, also known as ‘“SeptemBARE”, had been a resounding success as they managed to break the Sanna record of 264 people jumping into a pool naked. This was the third time the event had been held, with 188 skinny dippers last year and 80 in 2016.
They also take part in nude sport competitions such as volleyball.
Sanna also wants to put South African naturism on the global map. This year, two of its officials will attend the 2018 International Naturist Federation (INF) congress in Portugal, where they will be part of an international delegation.
“Sanna has friends all over the world and we promote South Africa as a naturist holiday destination.”
The organisation is working towards South Africa hosting the 2026 INF congress as this will help boost tourism - and shine a light on the local nude scene.
“Naturists are normal people such as bank managers, doctors, attorneys, accountants, business owners, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, teachers and nurses.”
The Saturday Star