No More Shame: Nudity at Swarthmore

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

At Swarthmore there are clubs that cater to every interest. Massage Club, Cycling Club, Photography Club, Folk Dance Club…the list goes on. Those who are tired of the old selection of activities will now have a chance to join Swarthmore’s one and only Nudist Club.
Although some may have been shocked to see posters advertizing nudity, the club itself has existed since the fall of 2005 and has participants from both Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr. The club’s co-founder, Eric Mulligan ’08, says that the idea of a nudist group was initially “something like the Dip of the Month Club,” taking swims in the Crum. Since the water of the Crum is always pretty cold, “no matter how warm the air might be,” the club shifted over to on-land nudity. Currently, the club’s main activity centers around naked walks in the Crum. Mulligan hopes to expand the group’s list of activities in the future. He asserts, however, that the club is “first and foremost a recreational club; we do what we do because we enjoy it.”

The nudists have run up against virtually no opposition to their activities. Even when they met a few passers-by, “no one [seemed] to mind too much.” Mulligan believes that the club will facilitate “full acceptance of one’s physical self.” In a society the club characterizes as driven by embarassment and shame concerning the human form, they argue it can be hard to embrace one’s body. Mulligan hopes that, in addition to providing an organized way for students to get out and have fun with friends, the club will help bring about the realization that “there’s nothing particularly wrong with the unclothed body”– a realization which “can be very liberating.”

There will be a (clothed) information session on Monday, April 2 for all students interested in learning more about the club.

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