Children take to naturism easily and naturally. There’s a time when they don’t even notice the genital differences between boys and girls, or men and women. Much more immediate, in terms of inevitable questions, is body hair and breasts. When they do raise these questions, they readily accept factual answers, even though they might not fully comprehend what you’re saying. As a Mum, I’ve never shied away from any queries.
We’re regularly nude around the house, as well as obviously being nude on holiday, so our kids happily accept these situations, and two of them could explain why and when breasts grow, why and when pubic hair sprouts, even if ‘puberty’ isn’t something they necessarily understand fully yet.
Children are an integral part of naturism, and will grow up without body shame or curiosity, accepting their own bodies and those around them. I think it’s a healthy approach, that there’s no mystique taught.
And yet in naturist publications ‘the child’ (up to the age of 18) has disappeared entirely. Where they used to be in evidence in photographs, and in articles similar to this one about the benefits of teaching a child to grow up without shame, they’re absent. It creates the impression naturism is an ‘adults only’ lifestyle, where in fact it’s very much family orientated, and extended-family orientated at that.
The reason for this is, of course, paedophiles. I feel angry at them for existing. I also feel angry at them for skewing the perception of the lifestyle I enjoy, and its representation. When I started in SL it wasn’t uncommon to end up in a naturist sim which contained naked child avatars. As a real life naturist, I’m used to seeing this all the time, and wouldn’t blink an eye. Even then, the word ‘paedophile’ wouldn’t enter my head in an SL context. But it’s certain that there were adult avatars abusing child avatars (controlled by an adult) within SL, both parties complicit in the sordid fantasy. Suddenly, things changed.
Which is only right and proper. It was good to see that sort of behaviour weeded out of SL. One of the game’s strengths has been to keep it pure in some areas of role play. I remember, long before the current, rather idiotic support for Neo-Nazism reared its ugly head, the far right were being weeded out of SL. I know for certain that one (legal) British political party of the Far Right were hounded out of SL by more liberal SL voices. I know this because I was part of those avatars making life difficult for them. There’s no need for Far Right nonsense in SL, nor is there any justification for paedophiles to be anywhere near the game. I’m not so naive to suggest that issues like support for Neo-Nazism or age-play aren’t still happening, but it has been dragged away to some ‘dark SL’ and isn’t in evidence in the manner it once was. So far, so good.
But then there’s a variety of reasons, many innocent, where an avatar might be played as a teen or younger. Indeed, ‘petites’, child avatars on the grid, abound, and there’s blogs dedicated to clothes, hair, skins etc designed purely for ‘petites’. I would imagine the majority just play this role entirely innocently. Perhaps it’s an escape back to their own, idyllic childhood, who knows? There will be as many reasons to play SL as a petite as there are petites. And no one is suggesting there’s anything wrong with that.
What’s not so easy is for me to represent family naturist values in this blog. I’ve an alt set up as a ‘petite’ which I’ve often considered utilising into the blog. I sometimes see naturism through my children’s eyes, and there’s a raft of material I could use, but can’t ever effectively illustrate.
In the photographs above, I’ve used this alt girl avi, which I think perfectly illustrates family naturism in and around a pool, a family simply enjoying time together on holiday, reinforcing a positive family naturism that exists in RL. Even so, I’ve opted to pixelate my own alt avi, just in case someone doesn’t approach it with the right motives. To me, it’s a positive celebration of family naturism. To others, it’s some sort of sick, sexual perversion.
What of a representation of my son (this is just the same alt with a different ‘costume’, incidentally…you’ll understand how this works if you use SL)? Pixelate SL nude representations?
Or show ‘him’ (and my daughter’s representation) in swimming costumes?
And if I do that, am I still feeding some sicko’s fantasy?
In real life naturism, occasionally, you do see naked parents getting their children to wear swimwear on the naturist beach, such is their concern with the exploitation of children. children, when they reach puberty, often recoil from naturism, and some return to it. Others won’t, as their own act of rebellion against naturist parents.
My own son often wears a swimming costume to the naturist beach. He’s not at an age yet where he’s concluded he’s embarrassed by his own nudity, he still is very relaxed about it, but more that he’s at an age now where his imagination is gripped by ‘superheroes’, so his bedroom walls are decorated with images of Wolverine and Spiderman. And once he’d spotted those Spiderman swimming trunks…well, he likes to wear them to reinforce his own identification with fantasy and feed his imagination. That’s his own Second Life! He already understands instinctively he can wear them on the beach, but costumes aren’t allowed by the pool area, and he’ll happily take them off to swim there.
I don’t have teenage sons (or a daughter) – yet! But sometime in the future, I will. How they’ll react to naturism then (many naturist children recoil from it during puberty, then return to the lifestyle) remains to be seen, but let me imagine it.
I’ve one friend in SL who keeps a ‘teen boy’ alt avatar. He doesn’t roll it out very often, but will do so for specific scenarios in SL. Funfairs, driving a car and so on. He does this because, like me, he feels he wants to inhabit the avatar, and the best way to plug into the thrill of a funfair is to visit it as a teen. It’s a fantasy world, and anything that deepens the fantasy is fine. My own son is deepening his pre-teen fantasy by identifying with Spiderman as much as he can.
I asked my SL friend (non naturist) with the teen boy avi to pose with me for a couple of photos to further illustrate the minefield of representation of children in SL.
So here’s a couple of imagined ‘Mum with teenage son’ photos…
Once again, I’ve chosen to pixelate where a depiction of a naked teen occurs. (I particularly like the ‘awkward, gawky teenage son being forced to be photographed with Mum and hating every second’ look)And finally, that awkward pose in its full glory, but in this one ‘awkward teen male’ has opted to reject naturism to wear clothes.
I think it’s important, for the progression of the blog, that we now seek to ensure that, occasionally and where appropriate, children are represented in the blog. I’ve been thinking hard about this for some time, because their perspective is important for the future of naturism. Moving forward, though, I’d foresee that while I will seek to represent children as part of family naturism, I’ll opt to show them in swimwear.