Barbara Gornicka presents a sociological investigation - both historical and contemporary - into the problems surrounding naked bodies. She draws on her own participation in a nudist swimming club and goes on to study the often very complex and paradoxical emotions that have been associated with nakedness in the Western world for centuries. The book provides answers not only to why we find exposing our naked bodies shameful, but also why we find it sexual and erotic in the first place. It looks beneath taboos surrounding nakedness today and offers a theoretical explanation for their development over time. On the basis of her historical analysis, the author demonstrates that it was not until the late nineteenth or twentieth century that we began to see nudity as erotic.