Nudist Book Review – Growing Up Without ShamePublished Novel written by: Dennis Craig Smith and William Sparks. Topanga: Elysium Growth Press. 1986
Nudist Book Review - The book Growing Up Without Shame explores the effects of adult nudity on children, a subject that the authors have been researching for years. We teach children a number of things about their bodies: we teach them that they are beautiful, yet we teach them that they should be covered. We teach them that their bodies were created by God and as such have no shame innately; yet tell them there are certain parts that should only be shown to very few people and should rarely, if ever, be shown in public. Among those who advocate that the body should be covered, Dr. Spock advised that nudity not be the norm within the home because of his experiences alone. Joyce Brothers also advised against nudity. There are others who have said that nudity is acceptable, and one of them is Dr. Fitzhugh Dodson, who said household nudity before the age of 6 is okay, yet after the age of 6 nudity may be over-stimulating for the child. Another doctor pointed out that Dr. Spock and Joyce Brothers had no evidence for their statements and that they had no proof that nudity has no negative impact on children. Another researcher on nudity and children stated that seeing parents nude was almost always a positive experience rather than a negative one. Other scholars are cited who say that the harm occurs when children don’t experience nakedness in the home and that children are normally not scarred by nudity. Margaret Mead, a field researcher, noted that in certain places, nudity is completely appropriate like in swimming and sunbathing. She also stated that what is taught in high schools is not enough. Clothing has been deemed necessary and decent by many cultures, but it some environments, it’s warm enough to be without them.
The book then tours nudity throughout history along with the history of nudity and its treatment in America. The one criticism that I have of this book is that it assumes that evolution is true. He mentions the Garden of Eden and how that impacted our view of nudity and sexuality. The Bible says that Adam and Eve were male and female before the fall (Gen 1:26-7), and their genitals were identified with shame because of what they had done. (Gen 3) We were not made to feel shame with nakedness, but rather with disobedience. Man has always been man; animals have always been animals. Of course, we must note that God did not say anything about nudity being wrong when He condemns Adam for what He did. It is critical that Adam brought up the fact that he was naked, not God. Continuing through history, he notes that various cultures have considered different parts to be sexual parts: in Japan, the back of the neck is considered sexual; while in the US, female breasts are considered sexual. Historically, the female ankle and leg was considered sexual in nature and so in order to deal with the lust that could arise, legs on furniture were covered, so that men would not be “tempted”. In the 1870s, Anthony Comstock lobbied the United States Congress to pass laws making it illegal to mail things that could be considered lewd or obscene. Various states also passed Comstock laws, and the definition of obscenity has been challenged in various Supreme Court cases. In relation to nudity, Sunshine Book Co. v. Summerfield was decided in 1958, a decision that allowed nudist magazines to be sent through the mail. Some movies have helped to normalize nudity in America, including The Blue Lagoon. Some state courts have allowed for nude beaches to open.
I would recommend this book based on the fact that it explores the effects of nudity on children and for the fact that it explores how nudity has been treated throughout world history.