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The ethical nudist

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According to the Cambridge American English Dictionary, a nudist is "a person who believes that not wearing clothes is healthy and who is often part of a group of people who meet to practice their belief."

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I sort of like that definition mostly because it emphasizes the 'belief' aspect of nudism. In other words there is more to being a nudist than simply being nude.

If the state of being nude were all there was to it, everyone could be considered a nudist since nude is the natural state of every human being before he or she puts on clothes.

Everyone gets naked at times for things like bathing or showering, when getting some types of medical examinations and before having sex. But a good many of those who get nude for only those mundane reasons don't have a very favorable impression of nudists or the culture of nudism.

Here I use nudism and nudist in an inclusive sense. I am well aware that some who like to be nude, especially those who live in other countries other than the U.S., prefer to be known as "naturists" rather than nudists. But here the terms are used interchangeably for those who practice nudism.

Nudism is a term that has been around for a good long time, but naturism is in comparison a newer term. In fact references like Encyclopedia Britannica simply include "also called naturism" under the entry nudism. The point is the opinions expressed here apply equally to those who consider themselves a nudist, a naturist or who don't see a good reason to adopt any label at all just because they like being nude.

Frequently I use the word culture when discussing nudism. I have even authored a book with the title American Nudist Culture. I think it is important to recognize that nudism does have a culture.

As a culture nudism has a moral philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong. In short nudism has ethics. To be a nudist a person should embrace the cultural philosophy and behave accordingly, or ethically.

[More from Dallas Nudist Culture Examiner: Topfree equal rights for women ─ why it matters]

Claiming to be a nudist but ignoring the responsibility to behave ethically with respect to the philosophy of nudist culture is at best intellectually dishonest. That isn't to say that an individual doesn't have the right to practice nudism as he or she sees fit, but that those who identify as nudists have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically in accordance with the common standards of nudist behavior, etiquette and courtesy embodied in the traditional philosophy of the culture.

The slideshow offers insights into the core philosophy of nudism as gleaned from respected organizations representing the culture.

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