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Offline Danee

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From: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1381295/Why-children-confusing-messages-bodies.html

One can add comments below the article by the way.

Why do we give children such confusing messages about their bodies?


Liz Fraser believes that millions of children in Britain, have been
indoctrinated with the idea that nakedness is rude, naughty or
shameful

By Liz Fraser

 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!’
Liz Fraser believes that millions of children in Britain, have been
indoctrinated with the idea that nakedness is rude, naughty or
shameful



Once I’d picked my jaw up off the grass and tried to make sense of
what she’d just said, I realised to my utter dismay that her fears
were probably completely justified.
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.

Now a parent myself, I’m trying to raise my children similarly: we are
very comfortable with our own nakedness at home, and I still often
share a bath with my younger children, both Phoebe and Charlie, who’s
7, and quite happily get undressed in front of them.

They see nothing strange about it at all, and the little ones aren’t
shy about dancing around naked. They’re kids, after all!

But despite all this ease around nudity within the family environment,
they have picked up on the message from outside our home that showing
naked flesh in public is something unthinkable, even for children.
Sign of the times: Liz Fraser remembers visiting the South of France
where everyone was sunbathing topless

Sign of the times: Liz Fraser remembers visiting the South of France
where everyone was sunbathing topless

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.

Though the children are thankfully too young to know about such a
gruesome thing, the public’s media-fuelled terror of paedophilia is
now so strong that many parents don’t want their children to be seen
naked by strangers ‘just in case’ they are photographed and put onto
the internet, or peered at by sexual predators.


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.

Turning the clock back to the Seventies when I was a pre-schooler, hot
summers were all about wearing almost nothing, and our photo albums
are bursting with pictures of us as children, naked and happy. There
we’d all be in the local paddling pool or swimming pool, splashing and
shrieking happily in nothing but our pants, and often not even that.
And nobody minded at all.

Then when I was ten we moved to the South of France for a while, and I
remember everyone sunbathing topless, completely relaxed about it.
Nobody thought about ‘covering up’ to hide their bodies.

In the local swimming pool, showers were communal and we’d all strip
and get washed and changed side by side in the middle of the changing
room, chatting away as we did so. Nobody stared. Nobody found it
embarrassing or weird. It was considered as normal as brushing one’s
teeth.

But when I came back to Britain the following year, the rules for
girls my age seemed completely different to the ones abroad.  I found
that in the changing rooms everyone locked themselves away in separate
cubicles, to change in private, ashamed to let their nakedness be
seen.  If they had to change on the beach they’d perform a bizarre
hopping dance ritual under a towel, attempting to remove pants, while
putting on bikini bottoms simultaneously, without showing an inch of
Forbidden Flesh. Not even for a millisecond.

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.

Songs of innocence: 'Compare this [Britain] to other countries, where
nudity is seen as part of life, and where children are raised without
ever thinking to question it'

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!

I always bought one-piece swimsuits or just bikini bottoms for my
girls when they were little. Why would I want them to wear a bikini
top that’s designed to cover breasts, which they quite clearly haven’t
got?

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.

Millions of children every day are sitting down to watch programmes
that show grim acts of violence or aggression, yet when it comes to
showing a naked breast in a shower the censors come down like a ton of
bricks and insist it’s covered up, or blurred.

Public nudity is a crime here, and yet pornography and hypersexual
advertising is everywhere in the UK and North America

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.’

Another friend, who is Swedish, but now lives in Canada, told me:
‘Canada is on a par with the U.S. in terms of excessive prudishness.
When we go to the beach, it’s the Swedish mums who let their toddlers
run around naked — and they get lots of dirty looks from their
Canadian counterparts!’

And so despite the fact that I appear to be in the distinct minority,
I continue to fight hard against our very British culture of bizarre,
unhelpful prudishness.I still change in the middle of the changing
room at my local pool, without adopting body-shielding tactics. I know
my children find this a little bit odd, and probably wish I didn’t.
When nobody else is naked, why is Mummy?

Well, because Mummy happens to think that there’s nothing wrong with
it and she’d rather teach her children that their bodies are beautiful
and natural just as they are, and don’t need dressing up in sexy
clothes or to be hidden from view to be acceptable
Top-free Equality. Its a right, not a privilege!
http://www.freethenipple.com/

Stuart

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Wow, that's a rational, sensible and well written argument. How the hell did it end up in the Daily Mail?  :879

(For those who don't know, the Daily Mail is one of the most repugnant, prejudice and vile newspapers on the planet, full of stories about how every ethnic group in the world is exploiting its core readership)

Offline Jann

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Wow, that's a rational, sensible and well written argument. How the hell did it end up in the Daily Mail?  :879

(For those who don't know, the Daily Mail is one of the most repugnant, prejudice and vile newspapers on the planet, full of stories about how every ethnic group in the world is exploiting its core readership)

Because it gave them the opportunity to publish nudie pictures and they know that will excite comment and sales.
Millions of years of evolution have combined to produce me. 
I'm rather hoping that I don't bugger it up in one lifetime.

Stuart

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Wow, that's a rational, sensible and well written argument. How the hell did it end up in the Daily Mail?  :879

(For those who don't know, the Daily Mail is one of the most repugnant, prejudice and vile newspapers on the planet, full of stories about how every ethnic group in the world is exploiting its core readership)

Because it gave them the opportunity to publish nudie pictures and they know that will excite comment and sales.

A bit like the time they had a big story on why peadophiles should face harsher sentences, with a paparazzi picture of Prince Andrew's under age daughters in bikinis on the opposite page. 

Offline MarkH

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What a brilliant article! Thanks for posting it Danee!
Mark

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Offline Jann

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An interesting and forthright article to be sure.  Interesting in that it got published by the Daily Mail and forthright in most of its statements.  However, for all Mum has to say about things she doesn't seem to have much of a programme for countering them, and some of her content is overgeneralized.

Quote
Another friend, who is Swedish, but now lives in Canada, told me:
‘Canada is on a par with the U.S. in terms of excessive prudishness.
When we go to the beach, it’s the Swedish mums who let their toddlers
run around naked — and they get lots of dirty looks from their
Canadian counterparts!’

I'm sure that is the case here and there, but my experience during the one summer I have had to visit the beaches nearby has been different.  Yes, most toddlers are dressed in their little brightly coloured swimsuits at the beach -- makes them easier to find as a general rule.  No, not all of them were dressed -- some were naked.  No, I didn't notice anyone offering dirty looks to either the kiddies or the parents.  Yes, there are a number of public nudist-tolerant beaches hereabouts and though they have their detractors among the lunatic fringe most people seem quite willing to live and let live.  The same thing seems to be true for back country naked hiking, biking, etc -- you may meet a few people but so far no one has raised the slightest objection. 

That is the story for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  No, it isn't Sweden but then, Sweden is more prudish that Spain so what is the writer's point in this matter?

Dan . . . are you there?  What is the situation in Quebec? 
Millions of years of evolution have combined to produce me. 
I'm rather hoping that I don't bugger it up in one lifetime.

sargent

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It's definitely unfortunate that this is the direction we are heading, not just for naturists but for everyone... A whole generation of children growing up with a warped sense of body image and appropriateness would be horrific. But it's also hard to tell parents to encourage their kids to love their bodies at the same time as the media pushes all sorts of scare tactics to make us think that every slightly strange neighbor is a pedophile preying on them.

What a conundrum!

Offline Historybuff83

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Well I was listening to a TED talk (on TED.com, a brilliant website if you've never been) where a guy was speaking on security.  That we have two separate things, people's feeling of security, and the actual security.  Case in point is pedophilia.  The actual cases of it are quite small, but you talk to parents, and it seems like every other stranger out there wants to molest their children.  Kidnappings is another example.  A child is more likely to be kidnapped in the United States by a family member, yet kids are taught about "stranger danger" and not to talk to strangers.  That shows the divorce between people's concepts of security and reality.  So we ourselves as adults have a warped sense of these things, no wonder we pass them down to our children.  One thing the guy said in the video that I thought was interesting, was that he said if you see something in the news, don't worry about it, because by definition the news is full of relatively rare events. 

I've attached the link to the talk below:
http://www.ted.com/talks/bruce_schneier.html

Offline bluetrain

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really good, as always, Danee!  :624
"Too many young folk have addition to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love."
- Cornel West

simonalexander2005

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Excellent article! Thank you very much for sharing!

I have to say I completely agree with the writer - it is silly how a breast in a shower is covered up, but sex, violence and swearing are commonplace in films rated 12...

Offline Dan

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I'm sure that is the case here and there, but my experience during the one summer I have had to visit the beaches nearby has been different.  Yes, most toddlers are dressed in their little brightly coloured swimsuits at the beach -- makes them easier to find as a general rule.  No, not all of them were dressed -- some were naked.  No, I didn't notice anyone offering dirty looks to either the kiddies or the parents.  Yes, there are a number of public nudist-tolerant beaches hereabouts and though they have their detractors among the lunatic fringe most people seem quite willing to live and let live.  The same thing seems to be true for back country naked hiking, biking, etc -- you may meet a few people but so far no one has raised the slightest objection. 

That is the story for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  No, it isn't Sweden but then, Sweden is more prudish that Spain so what is the writer's point in this matter?

Dan . . . are you there?  What is the situation in Quebec? 

Never saw kids who ran around naked on beaches in Quebec but parents don't hesitate to have their kids change in public even if they get naked while doing so.

That said, I hate beaches and don't have the most extensive experience of them.

The author's comment about Canada (and the US) is bullshit though. We're melting pots of cultures, you can't generalize like that.
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This is a excellent article. Thank you Danee


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!


I've also seen a few times. And most small children do not wear it. But if they try to take off, the angry mother tries to explain to her daughter, that a girl does something not so. Such a behavior I do not understand.
"If war is the answer, then we ask the wrong questions."
(Wenn Krieg die Antwort ist, dann stellen wir die falschen Fragen)

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