What Nudism Exposes
268 pages, 6 x 9
24 b&w photos
Release Date:01 Jun 2023
Release Date:01 Oct 2022
Release Date:01 Oct 2022
Release Date:01 Oct 2022

What Nudism Exposes

An Unconventional History of Postwar Canada

UBC Press

What Nudism Exposes offers an original perspective on postwar Canada by situating the nudist movement within the broader social and cultural context and considering how nudist clubs navigated changing times.

As the nudist movement took root in Canada after the Second World War, its members advanced the idea that going nude and looking at the nude bodies of others satisfied natural curiosity, loosened the hold of social taboos, and encouraged mental health. By the 1970s, nudists increasingly emphasized the pleasurable aspects of their practice. Mary-Ann Shantz contends that throughout the postwar decades, nudists sought social approval as they engaged with contemporary concerns about childrearing, sexuality, public nudity, and the natural environment. Nudist clubs were committed to dissociating nudity from sexuality and to creating space for men, women, and children to socialize in the nude, extolling the movement as complementary with modern family life.

This perceptive, eminently readable book explains the perspectives of the nudist movement while questioning its assumptions, particularly the defence of nudity as natural. What nudism ultimately exposes is how the body figures at the intersection of nature and culture, the individual and the social, the private and the public.

This highly original work will find an audience among students and scholars of Canadian history and those more broadly interested in transnational histories of the body, gender and sexuality, and childhood. General readers of Canadian history and the history of the postwar period will also put it on their reading lists.

... [a] richly researched and insightful book... Bob Hummelt, BC Studies
What Nudism Exposes deftly explores the fascinating but little-known history of nudism, woven into the larger social story of postwar Canada. No other book focuses on issues of gender relations and sexuality in this context. Esyllt W. Jones, professor, History and Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
By studying nudism, Mary-Ann Shantz offers a novel lens on significant concerns about Canadian society after the Second World War. Caroline Daley, author of Leisure and Pleasure: Reshaping and Revealing the New Zealand Body 1900–1960

Mary-Ann Shantz is a historian, researcher, and project manager who lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She is a contributor to Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History and has been published in Histoire sociale/Social History and the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth.


Part 1: Nudism Comes to Canada

1 Building a Movement

2 Constructing Community at the Club

3 Regulating Sexuality

4 Navigating Gender Norms

5 Raising Young Nudists

Part 2: Nudism on Display

6 Photographs in Sunbathing for Health Magazine, 1947–59

7 The Pageant Tradition and Miss Nude World

Part 3: Nudism, the Natural Environment, and the Regulation of Space

8 Cultivating Nature and Protecting Privacy at the Club

9 Defending Nature and Public Nudity at Wreck Beach, 1969–79


Notes; Bibliography; Index

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