By Phillip Milano
Is there a nudist camp in Europe that can handle my request that my son of 14 be made to stay completely nude for an entire stay next summer when he is out of school? — Megan, 34, nudist, Paris
That is a horrible thing to do to someone. — Norbert, 17, Minnesota.
If my parent forced me to be nude, whether I liked it or not, I would hate them and question their motives. Camp is supposed to be fun, not a summer of hell. — Britt, female, Washington, D.C.
That’s called “child abuse.” I’m not sure what you think you’re accomplishing by planning to shove your lifestyle down his throat, but … he’ll hate you for the rest of his life. Have fun with that. — Ann, 39, Kansas City, Mo.
Don’t most parents “shove” their lifestyle down their kids’ throats? — Rochelle, Williston, N.D.
We’re not sure what they make young’uns do in those high-falutin’ Europe parts, but in these good ol’ U.S. of A. parts, we don’t like to force ’em to show their parts.
Sure, we may dress our 5-year-olds in stripper-tops that say “Juicy” or “You Want This” on them, but just because someone’s got a sleazy mom, does anyone really put stock in that famous saying about the apple not falling far from the pole?
Nicky Hoffman of the 25,000-member Naturist Society, which “promotes body acceptance through clothing-optional recreation,” said most 14-year-olds are body-conscious and don’t want to be in the buff.
“And they’re certainly not going to a camp with Mom and Dad. That’s all teens, not just naturists.”
The worst thing to do is force them, she said.
“They might be very embarrassed. And I’m sorry to say, but if a child is very upset and talks about it and it gets out, a mother could lose custody.”
But are there long-term negative psychological effects on a kid going natural?
“I don’t think so. We’ve done polls and found that just about everyone has skinny-dipped with others at some point. The key thing is it has to be their choice.”
Some might wonder if it’s OK at all to raise a child in a nudist culture. Hoffman said that first, measures are taken to protect children at resorts or beaches, through self-policing and guidelines. More importantly, letting it all hang out fosters a healthy body image.
“We call our parts by the appropriate names and aren’t ashamed of them. There’s no ‘pee-pee’ in naturism. We know our parts and what they are for.”
Naturists tend to have lower numbers of teen pregnancies, she said. Girls and boys learn about inappropriate actions, and how not to clamor for attention or denigrate themselves or others for “imperfections.”
“They end up with a deeper respect for the opposite sex,” she said. “It’s like there’s no surprises. We look deeper than the surface … you may grow up feeling intimidated talking to a doctor if he’s got his suit and tie on, but when there’s no clothes on anyone, it’s an even playing field.”