14/08/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Children's Book With Nude Pictures Causes A Stir In France


In these times of air-brushed photographs and overt sexual imagery, we parents can feel like we're fighting a losing battle as we strive to bring up our children with confidence in their bodies.

Those of us who have been around the block a few times (and who own full-length mirrors) know that, with absolute shuddering certainty that adult bodies come in ALL shapes and sizes.

Big bellies, droopy boobs, flat bums – and that's just the men!

But how do you convince your kids, bombarded as they are by photos of pert-and-perky wrinkle-free gravity-defying perfection, that apples and pears are grown-ups' more typical shapes?

Well, in France, one children's book is causing a political stir with its depictions of adults in the altogether called 'Tous à Poil', which translates at 'All In The Buff'.

The book has comical drawings of ordinary people – policemen, bakers, and teachers – taking off their clothes with the aim of teaching small children not to be obsessed with perfect bodies.

In the buff

In one double-page spread we've seen, men, women and children are depicted frolicking on a nudists' beaches, boobs-a-swaying, wangers-a-wanging, bellies-a-bouncin' – and it all looks like they're having a perfectly innocent splashing time.

But according to the country's leader of the main centre-right opposition party, Jean-François Copé, the book is nothing more than an attempt to subvert traditional gender and family values.

Unfortunately, if his intention was to crush the book from public view, it has had the opposite effect – because his comments have sent sales rocketing and it is now the second best-selling French language book on Amazon. Zut alors!

Mr Copé's remarks have been widely mocked in the French media. The French are, after all, supposed to be relaxed about nudity – they invented topless sun-bathing; there is hardly a French movie without a nude scene; and French advertisers use female bodies (always perfect) to sell everything from cars to pasta.

In the buff

But what if the book was available in the UK? What if it was available to our own primary-age children is the same way as 'The Gruffalo' and 'How The Elephant Got Its Trunk' is?

How would you react if your son or daughter came home with 'All In The Buff' in their book bag instead of 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea'?

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I'd react (hopefully with a 'Ho ho ho' rather than 'WTF!!').

But I do think that the row over 'Tous à Poil' is nonsense – because if the book's raison d'etre is to counter the air-brushed, photo-shopped perfection we see on TV and in magazines every day, then it fails.

Comically-drawn depictions of the adult form – even if they do show the lumps, bumps and hairy bits - are as false as those manipulated images that seem to breed so much doubt in young people as they move into adulthood.

If you really want your children to see pasty, flabby, floppy, wrinkly, spotty, hairy, NAKED bodies as they really are, 'Tous à Poil' isn't the answer.

Just take them to your local swimming pool's changing rooms! Just be en garde for the nightmares afterwards!