In addition to universal access to health care, month-long national holidays, and unimaginable job security, one of the great things Americans just don’t seem to get about European ‘socialism’ is a higher order comfort with nakedness – both their own and others. East Germans, in particular, were well known for their wide-spread acceptance – including policies encouraging ‘naturalism’, communing with nature au naturel – of public nudity.
While a unified Germany remains comparatively tolerant of exposure of the human form, the government no longer has policies in place that encourage, or sometimes even allow, public nudity. Fortunately for those who feel the need to ambulate in the altogether, German ingenuity has designed a solution – the private trail (a low-tech solution to a basic human need). Heinz Ludwig, a local entrepreneur, believes he is filling a market niche by supporting ‘the country’s Freikörperkultur (FKK), or literally “free body culture.”’ Mr. Heinz’ trail will be well-marked to discourage those of delicate sensibilities, but his profits will come from providing concessions (sunscreen, perhaps?) and camping.
Countries whose culture is (or has historically been) dominated by those with a more puritanical bent, i.e., the United States and predominately Catholic countries, are less embracing and sometimes downright scandalized by the idea of public nudity. In Appenzell, Switzerland, the popular practice of nude hiking is the subject of debate as local business owners fret that overexposure could impact their ability to market their tourist-oriented economy as family friendly. However, a handful of American visionaries, committed to the full frontal frontier, have declared the summer solstice (June 21st) ‘Naked Hiking Day’. Naked Hiking Day organizers note that nudity is not illegal in many U.S. local jurisdictions as long as the intent is not to ‘incite or satisfy sexual arousal’ and participants are encouraged to check their local laws before proceeding.