Being nude or naked (because they really do mean the same thing) is something that all people can say hand on heart that they do on a daily basis. Not only that, we all came into this world naked, legs akimbo. Growing up, nakedness is a regular occurrence for children; bath time, when it’s too hot for clothes, when you tip an entire carton of juice down yourself, when you get told “for gods sake, just put your pants on”…and that is just the start. I don’t have children but I have been a parent. A step parent to be exact, many years ago now and I remember nakedness being a massive feature in our house. Little Legs was 2 when I met her and was still in the nappy stage. She was also very keen on whipping off all her clothes at a moments notice and prancing around in the buff – thankfully only when it was at home…the Devon winter makes it easy to keep clothes on.
As her parents, we were also naked for the crucial times of showering, sleeping and going from unclothed to dressed twice a day. The getting dressed (and sometimes showered) was often a family affair with all three of us getting dressed in our bedroom – more for speed than anything. The amount of times we thought she could dress herself as she got a bit older only to be met with a small girl with trousers on back to front, knickers on the head and no top on meant that the morning routine could easily double in time.
With two female parents, it was only normal to get the questions about the body from a very curious child. We had the body discussion fairly early on account of questions such as “why have you got furry bits and I haven’t?” and “what are those (boobs) for?” The furry bits question cracked us up and then we answered her in an honest, age appropriate way and she was happy with that – nudity was normal for her.
When we took her swimming, the changing rooms were communal, a playpen in the corner for the more mobile babies to enable their mothers to get dressed without worrying about their child crawling off and the majority of the women in the changing room would be getting changed without paying too much notice to anyone else’s state of undress.
On occasion children would point out that the assembled parents and children were naked, but then they would also point out about a million other things too. Clearly it wasn’t a case of a mass orgy, nor was there any uncomfortable moments; it was a changing room - a room to change from outdoor clothes into swimsuits and back again. The showers were curtained off and people were free to shower with their own kids and were not mandated to wear a swim suit or underwear. As is the nature of swimming pool changing rooms, they are damp…no one wants to add to the dampness by wearing additional undies in the shower and surely that is no way to get clean?
Last weekend, Tom was taking part in an off-road triathlon – canoe, mountain bike and trail run. It was muddy beyond belief and helpfully, the venue had allowed the participants to use the showers after the event to sluice off the mud and get warm again when they had finished. The showers were located within the toilet areas and a sign was on the door of the shower room. I had to read it twice to make sure I was reading it correctly.
This was in both the men’s and women’s changing areas on the shower room door. This was in the Manvers Waterfront Boat Club, where the website says that “Activities based at the club so far include canoeing & kayaking, triathlon, running, open water swimming, windsurfing, sailing, fishing, model boating, sub-aqua, biking and wildlife conservation”.Most people that I know who are runners, divers, swimmers etc are more than happy to shower and indeed get changed in front of other people after doing whatever they were doing if it means getting dry and warm as quick as possible. Dithering about trying not to reveal too much only wastes time, while whipping everything off, sluicing off in the warm shower and getting dry and dressed as quick as possible sometimes means flashing a bit of bum and boob (that goes for the blokes too – only slightly less boob).
Children are also allowed to take part in the activities at Manvers and why ever should they not be? However, the message that they are being sent by the management of the club is one that says without question that the human body should be covered at all times and at no point should a nude human body be visible at the point where it is most likely and appropriate…in a changing room. The human body is ubiquitous yet unique. Most women will have breasts of various shapes and sizes. Men will have a penis of individual shape and size. Pubic hair is a sign of adulthood and physical maturity and sets adults apart from children. Why do these completely normal body parts present an issue of rudeness to others sharing the changing/showering space?
Have body parts that everyone has become taboo? Why would it be considered rude to be nude in a changing room or shower? Clearly, people should be respectful when in communal showering and changing areas. I’m in no way suggesting that it is the place for an intimate shower á deux, nor am I suggesting young children be left unsupervised in a communal area with strangers. Nudity is not rude unless it is inappropriate in time or place or audience. However, banning it will only serve to make it more secretive and “wrong” and this is never a good thing.