Boobies & Privates – Should Your Children View Nude Photography Art [NSFW]

After reading the title, I am certain you have already formulated an opinion, not only of the subject matter, but of me as the writer. Which is cool. Honestly.

I was raised in a fairly religious home in rural Appalachia. Nothing special, just your typical home where television, carnivals, jewelry, and Sunday afternoon bike rides were sins; where “gosh” and “darn” were considered egregious profanity; and where being rebellious constituted listening to the Rich Mullins or parting your hair on the opposite side (essentially).

Boobies & Privates - Introducing your children to nude photography [NSFW]

The fact that we were sent to a small, private school that taught nearly-identical doctrines didn’t help much, either. In school, topics such as sex, nudity, and human biology were often regarded as evil and frequently accompanied by threats of Hell fires and eternal damnation. To give a little perspective, our tenth-grade biology teacher skipped over the chapters discussing the scientific principles of human reproduction because it was too graphic of a subject for us to discuss in an open forum.

So, to say we lived a sheltered upbringing would be a conservative statement of the truth, but I do not fault my parents for raising us in the way that they saw best. As a parent myself, I am a firm advocate for parental rights in raising your children however you see fit, whether conservative, liberal, or right down the middle. As such, I believe it is our responsibility as parents to mould and shape our children’s perceptions of the human body, sex, and sexuality, and art, just like media, can, without a doubt, play a substantial role in a positive or negative outcome.

Boobies & Privates - Introducing your children to nude photography [NSFW]

Is it right (for you)?

No, this is not a bloody dissertation on religion or morality or universal relativism…save that conversation for a time when you have an overwhelmingly-sadistic desire to infuriate a room of adults at your monthly PTA meeting. Such a discussion produces answers as varied as those given by my coworkers as to why they arrive late on any given day, essentially rendering such debate useless.

This is also not a thesis arguing for or against principles of nudity in general. Heaven knows this has been debated, especially within certain circles, more heavily than most other topics.

When I say, “Determine if it’s right,” I simply mean, “Is allowing your children (or, perhaps, not disallowing them) to see nude photography something you think is permissible?”  (And, no, I’m not talking about sitting down and expressly showing them collections of nude work.)  In many parts of the world, this is not even an issue. But, particularly in America, this can be quite a controversial topic. For whatever reasons, whether they be religious, personal, or otherwise, is this something with which you are comfortable?

For some families, naturism is the name of the game with nudity and the human body simply being another ordinary part of any ordinary day from infancy on up. For others, this is not the case. So, in your household, is nudity within art permissible at all? If so, to what level?

Nudity has been incorporated into art virtually since the creation of art itself. Venus of Willendorf, one of the most well-known examples of Paleolithic sculpture, is a prime example that nudity is not an indecent creation of the modern mind. In fact, many believe that the incorporation of nudity, particularly female nudity, into artistic works was a way to celebrate femininity and fertility, paying homage to the important and completely normal functions of human biology. We also see nudity making grandiose appearances throughout the artistically-popular Greek and Renaissance periods.

Why are we okay with our children going on field trips to museums and viewing ancient works for what they are yet cringe at the mention of nudity in photography?

Boobies & Privates - Introducing your children to nude photography [NSFW]

What’s Permissible?

For most parents, I believe this is what it boils down to. Out of all the possible examples of nude aart (or photography), which will you allow your children to view?

This is when the word “pornography” starts getting thrown around, often unfairly. The human body in itself is not pornographic, and, often it is the artist’s (or, in this case specifically, photographer’s) intentions which determine the outcome of decency within an image. Two naked bodies intertwined could be a beautiful work of art; they could also be anything but beautiful (in the true sense) or a work of art at all! A naked breast could symbolize nurturing motherhood and femininity, or it could also represent vulgarity in the same sense that seemingly-benign words can be usurped and twisted.

If we shun something entirely, simply because it can also exist on a debase and degenerate plane, are we not doing our children a disservice? Are we not, then, teaching them to adopt the same, twisted perspective as those from whom we are trying to shield them, thereby encouraging the belief that all is evil?

While our family doesn’t subscribe to naturism, nudity and bodies have simply been a part of our lives. Coming from the conservative backgrounds in which my wife and I were both raised, we did not want our children to be brought up with a fear or twisted perception of the human form, and, as such, have aspired to keep an openness in that regard and maintain a nonchalant attitude towards the entire subject. I often joke that, at any given time, any member of our family may be found running around naked in our yard. It’s not evil, it’s not perverted…it just…is, and always has been.

Yes, my children have sometimes seen nude photography.  We don’t specifically show it to them, but, if and when they do see it, we don’t freak out about it. Although, as a boudoir photographer whose purpose is to create imagery as a gift from one lover to another, there is that segment of imagery that does border on the pornographic, my raw and erotic work (so, basically my entire boudoir portfolio), that we do not feel is appropriate for them at all (obviously). But, I have no issue with them seeing purely artistic or whimsical work for what it is any more so than I have a problem with them hanging out with their mother sunbathing topless in the backyard on a bright, summer day.

Boobies & Privates - Introducing your children to nude photography [NSFW]

In the end…

…is there a clear-cut answer on the subject, a one-size-fits-all solution that parents the world over can readily adopt for their own homes? No. These decisions rest in the hands of the individual parents. But, I have found that simple, open communication and not treating the human form as a thing to be feared has bred for my children a very balanced view of who and what we are: simple, mortal flesh.

  • Sam

    OMG BOOBIES!!! I was raised in a similar home (though farther north, Ohio), and I totally agree. Teaching children what art is about is an important way to foster a healthy view of not just the human body, but art in general. I don’t remember the debate, I think it was in a court case about pornography and a pastor was asked about the difference between art and pornography and while he couldn’t put it into words he said something like, I know it when I see it. I can understand. I’ve taken my children to art galleries from time to time, and while they haven’t gotten nearly as much exposure to nudity as your children, I’ve always made it a non-issue.

    How we react as adults/parents will greatly influence how our children react. Whenever we’re out and there’s either a scientific display with a naked body or an art display with nudity, I casually use the chance to describe how I view art and scientific work. While I don’t think we should use the cop-out that we’ll know it when we see it, but I think we can all agree that the line between art and pornography is clear to the recipient at least, though not necessarily clear to the producer.

    • http://allenmowery.com/ Allen Mowery

      Hey, Sam, thanks for the feedback! I was actually raised in Central PA on what is probably the fringes of actual “Appalachia.” (Perhaps we know each other :D ) My message in the article was not about forcing nude art upon children (that crosses into some questionable territory…the title was more of a controversy-starter), and it’s not like we give them collections of nude art as some right of passage. But, simply being casual about the entire topic is, I believe, a much better approach than freaking out every time a little human sees an ounce of flesh.

      • lowolf

        The Reality is nudity is everywhere and sex Sells products when looked at as true art then nudity is not dirty for it is done for artistic work.
        We were born naked and as small kids we knew nothing but the joys of life , not until we get older Culture kicks in and we cover up.
        The Human body has been studies for centuries and nudity in art is part of our pass and will be part of our future.
        Do not see a nude body but the art it truly represents.

  • Chingo

    And the kids will grow up saying, “Dad was a total pervert.”

  • Kelly Wilson

    Hey!!! wow naked body is an art of nudity. Well Nude photography is any photograph which contains an image of a nude or semi-nude person, or an image suggestive of nudity. The exhibition or publication of nude photographs may be controversial, more so in some cultures or countries than in others, and especially if the subject is a minor. Most nude photographs are made for private use and intended to be viewed only by the subject and their current partner. Most nude photography has traditionally featured female subjects; male subjects are more rarely exhibited

    Since the first days of photography, the nude was a source of inspiration for those that adopted the new medium. Most of the early images were closely guarded or surreptitiously circulated as violations of the social norms of the time, since the photograph captures real nudity. Many cultures, while accepting nudity in art, shun actual nudity. For example, even an art gallery which exhibits nude paintings will typically not accept nudity in a visitor

  • Matthew Wagg

    I think for the most part this is really a problem for Americans as Europe’s view’s towards nudity is totally different and passe. As in Oh its a naked person. Here in the UK, where conservatism is to a lesser extent than the states, there is a section of prudes spurred on by daily rags that sensationalise nudity. While on the same page spout of about bikini bodies and sex.
    I think the problem at the root of nudity is christianity. Religion has a lot of sins to answer for but none more than shaming people over their bodies.

    Back to my point, where children are involved it makes the situation a whole different kettle of fish as the nanny state we have frowns on anything classed as out of ordinary for them. So bringing nude art to a child will invariably lead to being put on the sex register.

    • denis

      BTW, women are free to walk topless in NY City. Totally legal. Is it possible anywhere in Europe?

      • chRiS

        In Germany women are free to walk totally nude. If you’re a man, you’ll be arrested for it on the other hand.

  • Dave Yates

    I too grew up in a very strict home in central, PA. Thank you for this thoughtful article about a subject that is controversial even within my own mind because of the way I was raised and my chosen profession. After much thought, we have decided on the “not freaking out” method. I definitely don’t try to show my son nude art, but if he sees it or asks about it, it is treated the same as any artwork.