When Luísa was just a baby, I´d leave her naked at the beach all the time. Very often, we would go for an early bike ride, go for an unexpected swim and come back with me all wet and she naked. I always preferred her to be dry and naked than wet and with clothes on.
In Brazil, people don´t usually let their babies naked around, so I was always criticized by people for doing this.
People said things like: ¨She is a girl, you need to put a bikini on her, (so the sand won´t go inside)¨. What? What can a bikini prevent from happening exactly? They also usually put the two bikini parts on babies, and the bikini top on a baby looks really grotesque to me.
Well, in most Latin America there is this fear of molestation around. And in some places it´s even frequent to happen. But the fear is a bit extreme, in my opinion, at least in the areas where I´ve been. However, by the time Luísa was two and a half, it was bothering me that she was the only naked child on the beach, so I told her to wear a bikini, just like mommy, and she did. I was also tired of getting so much shit from people, the bigger Luísa got the more shit I got.
It´s really a cultural issue this letting a child run naked or not. Sometimes I see families doing it, and they are usually from Northern Europe. They are instructed well enough to know that there are no medical concerns about this practice. Sure there are people from anywhere doing it, like me or like Ethan that wrote a funny story about his son CK´s naked time.
Luísa still has a lot of naked moments. In our house, surely and at the beach too. Sometimes we stop at the beach and she has no bathing suit, so she gets naked. I´m happy that she can still do it and is not avoiding the fun out of shyness.
It´s nice that here in Costa Rica Luísa can hang out on the beach naked with her local best friend Reese, who´s 3-years old. They can swim with or without a bathing suits and they are fine either way.
It´s really a shame that we can´t see naked children all around at least on the beach, that we belong to a culture that makes the naked body mean much more than simply a naked body.
I love Jacque Fresco´s stories about when he was in his twenties and went to this island in the South Pacific where the natives walked around naked. He says he never saw a man stare at a women´s breasts there. When missionaries went there and started a church, they gave the women shirts to wear and the women went to church wearing the shirts, but they first cut big holes in the front for the breasts.
Luísa still can play naked at the beach or at home, or at our street, but that´s just because she is only 4-years old. Soon enough, she will be too big to do it, at least in public places. She´ll either start feeling embarrassed (which she does already at crowded beaches) or I´ll have to kindly explain that the world is crazy and that´s why she needs to have clothes on.