Here at Flavorpill, we’re all for being confident in your own skin, but we’ve noticed that several pop culture icons have been known to be a little more confident than your average bear. In America, where nude beaches are uncommon and the ’60s are over, we tend to think of nudists — or naturists, as they often call themselves — as a very small and out-there minority. However, many of our most famous and influential icons have dabbled in naturism over the years, from Benjamin Franklin to Dame Helen Mirren, so maybe it’s time to give the movement a little more thought. Or maybe not — we just bought a new sweater — but it’s still fun to think about. Click through to read our list of famous nudists, and let us know if you feel inspired to follow in their footsteps in the comments.
Dame Helen Mirren
We’ve always known that Helen Mirren wasn’t afraid to take her clothes off and show that you can be sexy at any age (the lady has appeared nude in films in 6 different decades), but we didn’t know it was official. In 2004, British Naturism awarded Mirren with the “Naturist of the Year” award. Of the honor, she said, “Many thanks to British Naturism for this great honour. I do believe in naturism and am my happiest on a nude beach with people of all ages and races!”
Robert A. Heinlein
One of the most celebrated science fiction authors of all time, Heinlein often depicted nudity and naturist communities in his work — not surprising, since he himself was a sometime nudist (and a total hippie). Though this is a relatively well-known fact now, for a time his preference for nudity (as well as polyamorous marriages) had to be concealed so as not to violate the morality clauses written into some of his YA book contracts.
Benjamin Franklin was one of the founding fathers — of American nudism. He once wrote that he would begin every day with an “air bath,” that is, hanging out in his room “without any clothes whatever, half an hour or an hour, according to the season, either reading or writing.” He was also an avid skinny-dipper.
While we don’t have any evidence that Dr. Seuss himself was a nudist, we think we can safely assume that he had at least a few pro-nudity leanings, considering that, early in his career, he wrote a picture book for adults extolling the virtues of the subject. The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family is the story of Lady Godiva and her six sisters, who wore no clothes because “they were simply themselves and chose not to disguise it.” Fair enough.
One of the modern nudists on our list, Aguilera has made no secret of the fact that she prefers to be naked. She and her husband practiced “naked Sundays,” which are exactly what they sound like, and and says that she hopes to make nudity “the norm” for her two-year-old son Max. “We’re big art collectors so there’s lots of female nudes around the house,” she told People . “It’s something to be respected and seen as a thing of beauty… I think it’s only weird whenever you shame it and raise your child to look at it in a weird light.”
The original free-spirited American poet, Whitman famously enjoyed skinny dipping and sunbathing nude with his friends. In A Sun-bathed Nakedness, he wrote, “Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me… Nature was naked, and I was also… Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! – ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.”
Though one penchant does not necessarily a nudist make, we still find it relevant that our 26th president was really into skinny-dipping in the Potomac River with his entire “tennis cabinet” — even in the winter. That simply cannot be pleasant.
The physicist who created the Richter scale has been called the most famous nudist of the 20th century, and indeed, he made a more heartfelt commitment to the naturalist life than many others on this list, making close connections mostly with other nudists and travelling to many nudist communities with his wife. Clearly, that’s what the smart kids are doing.