A fellow ex-pat friend of mine recently expressed her concern that perhaps she was taking things a little too far in her embracement of German culture. On exiting from the shower one day, her little one asked, "Mama, why do men have a penis and women have a string?"
It's one thing explaining the physiological differences between parents without delving into the depths of the menstrual cycle (or bitchy-witchy week as an ex of mine used to call it....and therefore ex) with a four year old.
It's an undeniable truth though that the Germans love to get naked. Importantly however, it is, in the main, not exhibitionism. They simply enjoy the freedom of "Au natural". This is nothing new. Most people are aware that the average Continental will whip his kit off at the drop of a hat, but the Germans are in a league of their own and the sight of whole families, yes - granny too, skinny dipping in the lake is not an unusual one.
My take on it? Admirable. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very open family where bath time together was a frequent occurrence and honest answers were provided, without embarrassment to honest questions. Whilst lamenting the fact that my muffin tops and bingo wings will never have you confusing me with Heidi Klum, I think I have a healthy attitude to body image and hope to pass that on to my daughter. I want her to understand that she should never be ashamed of her body but at the same time be respectful of the privacy of others. Being here I think, makes my quest easier.
Whilst some Brits and Americans may find the German "bare all" mindset too much, it should be noted that the Germans from the former East consider the West Germans to be somewhat prudish and uptight! There were impassioned confrontations after The Wall fell as to where it was acceptable to be naked on the beaches of the Baltic. Peace prevailed with the genius that is the FKK beach. FKK or Freikörperkultur, meaning Free Body Culture, encapsulates my attitude to the subject perfectly.
Finje is not yet old enough to care if she is wearing clothes or not. I wonder though when is the right time to start breaking down that other wall, the wall of innocence, and start explaining that certain things are, at least in public, inappropriate?
Do you let your child see you naked?