Laurie and Debbie say:
This anonymous article is by a very brave man (apparently a man) who has had a very hard time which he attributes to growing up with naturist parents.
As a family, we went on naturist holidays from the earliest age, sharing a beach with hundreds of people from across Europe in one of the huge naturist holiday camps in Bordeaux. The holidays were great. Cycling around the camp, aged eight, in the heat of the French summer, was my first taste of independence. And somehow, if everyone’s got their clothes off, it feels as if no one has. But at school it marked me out as being different.
And that difference has affected his whole life.
Anyone who knows our work understands that we are fans of the various naturist and nudist movements, and we appreciate for their support of us over the years. We emphatically do not believe that naturism is bad for children; in fact, we agree with the writer that “Children take to nudity like ducks to water.”
And, with a great deal of respect for this man’s pain, we would like to suggest that it isn’t naturism, per se that caused his troubles. His experience is akin to tens of thousands of others, the experience of any children who are different in some way that is not immediately perceptible to the naked eye, but nonetheless exposes them to ridicule and torment if their classmates find out. He could be writing about being Jewish, or being the child of anti-war activists.
He clearly describes the experience of internalized self-hatred: “At school, aged about 11, if I ever became the centre of attention I became so self-conscious that my vision would blur and my brain would start to shut down. As I got older I found myself unable to relax in groups. ” He attributes this to the physicality of nakedness: “the natural state is not always to be whole and happy. Shame and insecurity are just as much a part of the human experience. Clothes are seen, symbolically, to hide it. I believe the effect of being forced to keep everything on show caused me to create walls and layers to hide behind and within. ”
Again, we see it a little differently. In the article, he talks about his awareness that the pictures on his wall at home were different than the ones in other people’s homes.
Laurie, who has raised children, says that it makes sense to think about the effect on your children when you make statements about yourself in your public space. Obviously, this has limits: an observant Catholic in a Protestant town is not going to take her rosary off the wall. She might, however, consider putting the most graphic picture of the crucifixion in more private space. Or not. But if she doesn’t, by our lights it behooves her to discuss the consequences with her children, and pay attention to how it is affecting them.
Shame and insecurity are, unfortunately, part of our lives in this world. Schools could certainly do a better job of discouraging bullying … but mostly they don’t. Parents have to live with the fact that their choices affect their children’s experience. You can ask your children if your public space contains anything that may make things hard for them (assuming they haven’t volunteered that information) and they can tell you what their boundaries are. You can’t protect your children but you can prepare them and help them deal with the consequences of their and your choices.
Thanks to Oursin for the link.