Sunday, May 1, 2011
Great article about confusing messages about nudity and children
This is an excellent article That was written by a columnist in a British newspaper.
"Why do we give children such confusing messages about their bodies?
"Last week, during one of the hottest Easter holidays on record in the UK, my three children and I went to the local park.
It was sweltering, and after an hour or so of running about with a football, my daughter, Phoebe, who has just turned 11, had turned into a sweaty, par-boiled lobster and desperately wanted to take her T-shirt off to cool down. But she didn’t.
When I asked her why on earth not, she said in an exasperated voice, as if I didn’t understand anything, ‘Mum, I can’t take my top off in a park. People will stare and point!’...
Where boys often take their tops off in the hot summer months, many girls, even as young and totally undeveloped as my younger daughter, already feel that they ‘shouldn’t’ expose their top halves in public. Because their nakedness is somehow . . . wrong.
To realise that my own daughter already feels this way came as a real shock to me. I was raised by parents who never shied away from stripping off and jumping in a mountain lake or sunbathing topless on the beach, and I was never even aware of my own nakedness as a pre-pubescent girl. Naked or not — it made no difference to me. I felt totally free, and happy...
...they have picked up on the message from outside our home that showing naked flesh in public is something unthinkable, even for children...
They, like millions of children in Britain, have been indoctrinated with the idea that nakedness is rude, naughty or shameful — and that it’s always, always connected with sex...
A naked child has become, for many, a potential sex abuse incident, rather than the beautiful, pure thing it is, despite the reality, which is that — mercifully — abuse by paedophiles is far less prevalent than the furore that surrounds them would imply.
None of my friends swam or sunbathed topless. Instead, they hid themselves away, squeezing their pubescent breasts into bikinis whose purpose was, paradoxically, to make the wearer look sexier than if they had nothing on at all. It seemed that wearing sexy swimwear was OK, but to be naked and natural wasn’t. Which I found very confusing.
And to be honest, I still do. Beaches this summer will be full of toddlers wearing bikini tops. One mum I know impressed upon her daughter: ‘It’s to keep your boobies covered up.’ Her what?! She’s three years old!
'Public nudity is a crime here, and yet pornography and hypersexual advertising is everywhere in the UK and North America'...
Most damaging in all of this is the bizarre paradox that this whispering, blushing shunning of nakedness comes hand in hand with our culture’s obsession with sex and sexuality.
As a scientist friend of mine, and father of one, put it: ‘Public nudity is a crime here, and yet pornography and hypersexual advertising is everywhere in the UK and North America.
‘The ever-present appearance of sex and sexual messages in our culture and media goes along with fear and horror at actual nudity — and causes all kinds of problems for people’s sexual activity and self-confidence.’
When nudity is considered unacceptable, but highly-charged sexual messages in advertising and pop videos are not, is it any surprise that so many children are growing up with a confused attitude to their bodies, or feeling ashamed to take their tops off in a park when they’re hot?
What’s even more extraordinary is that violence and bad language are tolerated far more liberally than nudity on television and in films, especially in the U.S. and UK...
The message our children pick up is that blasting each other to pieces and using foul, aggressive, threatening language is fine and dandy, but showing a nipple? Perish the thought!
Compare this to other countries, where nudity is seen as part of life, and where children are raised without ever thinking to question it. One former classmate, who is Spanish and has a two-year-old daughter, commented: ‘Kids run around naked in Spain on beaches and in parks in the good weather and it’s totally normal.’...
For the full article: Click here
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