Daughter freaks out over school nudity
My 12-year old daughter came home from school the other today and was clearly upset. She couldn't wait to talk to me about
something. Sensing her anxiety, I casually asked, "What's up?"
She said, "Somebody at school today said that when I go to Junior High next year, I'll have to change my clothes, shower,
and be naked in front of my friends. Is that true?"
I raised at least one eyebrow and said, "I don't know. It used to be true," in a slightly disappointed tone of voice.
My daughter continued, "Well, I won't do it!"
"Why not?" I calmly asked.
"Because, unlike you, I don't like people seeing me naked!"
I thought to myself, Hmmm, she's noticed. I replied simply, "Why not?"
She said, "Because they'll make fun of me!"
"Why would they make fun of you and why would it matter if they did?" I asked.
"I don't like being made fun of. And I don't like to be seen naked," she said.
"Why is that?" I calmly asked again.
"Because I don't look like a supermodel!" she replied with animated hand gestures and with seeming frustration with my
apparent lack of ability to be able to understand the point she was trying to get at.
"Well, none of us really do," I replied. At this point it was time to eat dinner, and the conversation ended, at least for
the time being.
It's very sad to me that, despite whatever efforts I have tried to make, my daughter obviously feels some shame, or lack of
measuring up to what she thinks would be other's expectations of her, associated with her own body. I did try very hard not
to teach that. To this very day, she has yet to close a bathroom door while showering or taking a bath. And regardless of who
in the family happens to walk into the bathroom, it seems to go largely ignored. Most of the time she doesn't even change
clothes for her showers/baths in the bathroom, causing her to take the hallway trip in at most a towel. Not that many years
ago, her mother was alarmed because she tended to roam the whole house nude around shower time, even when friends were
visiting. How times change, and how quickly.
Where does this "teaching" come from? It surely is difficult to avoid. She is clearly aware that I don't hide from her, and
probably assumes (correctly) I'm not bothered in a locker room, which she knows I visit daily. In fact, we've talked about
that quite directly before, when I've taken her swimming at the same place. Too bad that unless I miss my guess, there will
be an expectation of no nudity when she does get to Junior High, thus reinforcing the developing attitude. No doubt the
unenlightened concept of absolute "modesty in dress" will follow.
I'm left to conclude that my own very intentional example of common nudity around the house is insufficient to prevent my
children from acquiring society's commonplace "body shame." I have been nude often in my own home, so much so that the other
morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, not having dressed yet, I was nude and my daughter seemed to not even
notice. At least around bathtime and such, my children are also openly nude around the house. Yet the body shame has
developed to a clearly unhealthy degree in my daughter, despite my efforts. The messages of the world have overwhelmed the
message I have tried to teach by example.
Those parents who think they are doing their children sufficient good by restricting the nudity their children experience to
their home are deluding themselves. No matter how attractive the safety and security of this limitation may seem, we are not
making sufficient progress at inoculating our children against body shame. The messages from other sources are simply too
powerful and too overwhelming. All one has to do is visit a public locker room these days and see if you can find anybody at
all under the age of 40 who is simply and comfortably showering nude and changing their clothes. We have sold our hearts,
minds, and souls to those who would pervert and make shameful the most incredible wonder and beauty found in every single
human body ever created.
---Ben Miller, Salt Lake City, Utah
America's Prudest Home Videos
I recently saw a vivid illustration of the attitudinal change toward nudity that America has experienced over the last
couple of decades, from the show "America's Funniest Home Videos."
I watched an old re-run back from the days Bob Saget was the host. One clip showed a toddler in the bathtub reaching for
something and falling out. In the process, he was sprawled every which way. And we saw everything, from his butt to his
little toddler genitals. Nothing was hidden.
A few days later I watched a much more recent episode with the latest host whose name I don't recall. Same situation: a
boy toddler in the bathtub, unashamedly displaying his altogether to the camera.
But this time, his penis was fuzzed out, because gosh-darn it, I guess the current generation is just too turned on by
little toddler penises to be allowed to see one.
Another clip in the same episode showed another toddler with his butt hanging out from behind. That's all--just a baby
butt. And they placed a yellow smiley face over it, because gosh-darn it, I guess those little toddler butts are just too
arousing to be seen!
And some people consider us skinnydippers the perverts?
---Marty Michaels, Salt Lake City, Utah
I visited a shop within a mall that had artwork you could purchase. One of the pieces was some painter's copy of the
Michelangelo "Creation of Adam" scene from the Sistine Chapel. One of the great pieces of religious art in all of history.
And over the penis of Adam someone had placed a yellow sticky dot.
I laughed in derision, although deep inside I was incensed at the defacement of such a work of art. The proprietor of the
booth immediately came over and explained to me that the owners of the mall had made him place that sticky dot over Adam's
penis because they didn't want any of the customers being offended.
Well, their effort failed. I was offended. As offended as when I saw a sketch of Michelangelo's David statue in a
school art book---with diapers on David!
Sticky dots on Adam. Diapers on David. Michelangelo must be rolling over in his grave.
---Marty Michaels, Salt Lake City, Utah