The naked apes

Sandy beach

I have to be a bit careful what I say here as my father may be reading. I wouldn’t want to embarrass him now, although he had no such scruples when my sister and I were teenagers. Our parents were naturists, and if you have never watched your parents cavort naked on a French beach with your aunt and uncle and a volleyball, then as far as I’m concerned, you don’t know what a proper summer holiday is.

I’m not a naturist, and I’m a bit cautious about flaunting my bare body on Europe’s beaches, especially since undergoing extensive surgery a few years ago. But I’ve never understood at all that particular kind of British prudishness that means that any kind of exposure of the body is off limits. I stalk as naked as the best of them in the privacy of my own home, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Last Friday I was at Wembley Arena watching Miranda Hart bring her family audience to near hysteria with her tales of titties, balls and farts. A thousand women will have gone to bed that night and tried to make their breasts clap as they rolled over. She managed something there for all 10,000 of us, and as far as I am concerned, any woman who can make my teenage son and me, my sister, brother-in law and their girls all snort at exactly the same time, knows her stuff. Somehow she appeals to the seriously old-fashioned prude in all of us…. And she makes us laugh our socks off.

A few days before though, thanks to Place2Be, I’d been in the audience to hear Steve Biddulph speak, Australian author of Raising Boys, and he’s kind of the opposite, although very funny too when he wants to be. He was advocating a different sort of nakedness around counselling boys. One of the things he said was that therapists often put themselves in a role, and a role does not nurture children. That made a lot of sense to me. As I heard that, I recalled my son J saying that he hadn’t been able to get along with his last therapist because (I am paraphrasing) he couldn’t get near him, or get any sense of him as a real person. His therapist needed to bare himself if he was to have any success with J.

Indeed, when J came to me, aged nearly 7, and with 4 years in foster care under his belt, not only did he not know how to strip off the veneer and talk about how he felt (not so surprising at his age), but he didn’t know what a naked man or woman looked like either. There’s a link there, I’m sure. I still think of that as an in-built and rather ridiculous failure of the care system. What’s the betting it was the system that prevented him from seeing naked bodies? The first time he saw me naked in the shower, he stood horrified, pointed at my pubes, and said “WHAT. IS. THAT?”. Needless to say, he never had to ask again.

So…. I’m an advocate of more nakedness and less prudishness, but I’m guessing I’m in the minority, in this country at least.

I’d love to know what you think.

I am linking this post up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, #WASO, week 89.

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6 comments

  1. Oh my goodness this had me cracking up! I’m personally all about keeping it covered. But to each their own!

    1. How much I bare depends on the weather of course! But you’re absolutely right, each to their own!

  2. I suppose the very english in me finds the thought of my naked parents and extended family cavorting on a beach very frightening. However, I don’t have an issue with nakedness around my children and still bath occasionally with them both. I think as you do it is in some ways a part of educating our children. I also remember the very same what is that question.I hope we have naked openness with emotion too, I certainly don’t feel able to cover those very easily. I really loved this post. xx

    Thank you for sharing your post on #WASO

    1. Thank you. Sarah. We weren’t that keen on the beach scenes either tbh. And if I had to choose, I would go for bare emotions over bare bodies any day… But glad not to have to make that choice. Funny that you got the same question, I always smile when I think of it.

  3. My son has seen me naked plenty of times, mainly because he seems to think that a few minutes alone to shower or use the toilet is just asking a bit too much! But you’re right, nakedness is a total no-no in fostering and for pretty good reasons to be honest. Personally, it’s the coldness that puts me off most!

    1. Sorry, it probably seems like a stupid question but in fostering, is it about the potential for abuse… And/or establishing professional distance… Or something else? I’ve often wondered. I imagine it’s the former, and that’s why I don’t really understand it as adults can and do abuse with their clothes on too.
      There’s a hurricane approaching tonight. Definitely a night for pyjamas!

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