Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Girls 4B

I thought it was important to keep this anecdote separate. If you have read the previous blog I am quite sure that you have your own ideas about what constitutes too much or too little clothing with regard to women. One reason is that you have grown up in a society that considers full nakedness to be unacceptable in most circumstances. I hope you understand that this is a cultural matter, that it changes over time, and that your attitude is affected by what you are familiar with. If you don't understand that, I would like to illustrate it with my own experience.

When I was a child, growing up in England, children playing on the beach were usually naked. Nobody cared. It was normal. Most importantly the children were unaware that there was even a decision to be made here. The decision in that place, at that time was based on the weather. Solely.

When I had children it was still perfectly normal to let small children run naked on the beach. This was in the 1980s. I have plenty of photos of them. When I had them developed, I was not arrested. These days I might be. But of course, photography is much more private now, with digital cameras.

We came to Canada in 1993 and the first time I took my children to the beach I experienced culture shock. Sian, who was 3, was naked. A number of other children her age were too. Without exception their parents had European accents.

Many small girls were in bikinis. Their parents were not immigrants, or not recent ones, generally.

The children all played happily, innocently.

The parents stared at one another.

The Canadian parents were horrified at these naked children.

The European parents were horrified at the tiny girls in bikinis.

AND FOR THE SAME REASON.

If you understand that, you'll understand why we have a problem with this topic.

13 comments:

  1. I actually feel less self conscious completely naked than in a bikini or dress. I usually wear jeans and t-shirts. I have never seen anything wrong with naked bodies.

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    1. If you go to a beach where everyone is topless you feel VERY conspicuous wearing a top. It's an interesting exercise actually.

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  2. I've been to a nudist resort and stripped immediately so I would not be different than any one else. I have a pretty relaxed attitude toward nudity. I have no idea why, as my family is very uptight.

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    1. Yep, in addition to cultural norms there are individual attitudes. Makes the whole thing complex.

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  3. Neighbours of ours routinely allowed their two children to cavort naked in the yard (weather permitting), up until the kids were 4 or so. They were Canadian by birth but German and French by recent ancestry so their attitudes were not surprising, in retrospect. I remember I had found it a bit strange but being a polite person I never said anything.

    However that was over 30 years ago when everyone actually knew their neighbours. I would never allow a naked child in the yard today, because you never know what kind of crazy person might be watching or taking pictures.

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    1. This is why I specified that my experience was not only in a different place, but a different time. Today's world is much more aware of the dangers of exposing naked children to perverts. What it generally fails to see is that by covering them up in certain ways, they are making a different statement which is just as dangerous, and possibly more so.

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    2. I used to let my kidlet cavort nekkid... in the house and in the back yard. No front yard nekkid kids were allowed and she had to put on clothing when her friends came over. And yes, I misspelled those words on purpose. :) Little nakie kids running through the sprinklers are part of the charm of summer!

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  4. I let my kids be naked most of the time in the house up through age 4. The neighbors that know think it is nasty. I am not sure if it is nasty because they think naked equals sex or if it nasty because they think the kids just pee everywhere or something. By age of 5 all my children got some sense of a need for privacy about their bodies and wanted to wear clothes during the day even in the house.

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    1. Without knowing their motives, yeah, it's hard to say. They may not understand it themselves, it was just how they were raised and they've never questioned it.

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  5. My two boys spent a lot of time in our backyard in South Africa swimming, playing and cavorting but this was 30 years ago and I was sure that they understood that clothes were required outside of our private home. I was wrong! I only found out years later when my youngest son's playgroup teacher was showing me some pictures taken at the playgroup - my son was the only toddler completely naked. I was shocked! She laughed and informed me that every morning when he arrived he would strip down and refuse to wear clothes. Hmm, according to this lovely lady, it was completely natural and none of the other kids thought anything of it!

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    1. I think it's great when kids are comfortable naked, and even better that people understand this:)

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  6. Oh, where to begin....

    You know I am no expert anthropologist (okay, maybe a closet one), but looking back, we can surely see how the many stories we have heard of the first woman and man (Adam and Eve? the ones in that idyllic garden of Eden?) cavorted au natural. Then came the idea that they used the [fig leaf] flora to strategically cover private parts. It makes me want to question why and how we have "developed" the reaction(s) we have toward being nude. Naked is the way we enter the world, after all.

    Sure, we are an innovative lot. Maybe we learned that we can't all live in the tropics? And isn't it industrious of us to learn how to weave fabric and create clothing so we may expect to survive in temperate climates? We've moved and migrated, changing so many things as we went along.

    From a practical standpoint, we go without clothing (on the whole) as we need, and culture changes as a result. For young babies not toilet trained, it is easier to change diapers and clean their messes without clothes in the way. Women can breastfeed(!) their babies if there are at the very least bra-free and there is ready access.

    In fact, I tend to think this is a key piece right here. In researching the topic of breast health, one article or study I read suggested that wearing a bra (that wonder of engineering!) can compound physical issues of the lymph system and may even contribute to breast cancer. Wonderful, huh? The whole issue of the way we have grown to culturally and purposefully ignore the natural use of our physical bodies can be troubling to ponder...

    ...Especially when we have work and jobs to do. :( Best leave such heavy matters up to the [health] experts, eh? ~ Blessings!

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    1. I've read those same articles on bras Kathy. Makes sense if you think about it.

      Yes, they needed a story to explain covering. But why cover - initially? Indeed. My guess is that it started out as a purely practical measure (as you say after we left the tropics) and then the mystery started. We must not forget that decoration (beads and paint) came before clothes, so the concept of attractiveness was there. I think men's ownership of women probably played a role too. But who knows, it was a long time ago, we can only hypothesize.

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