Is our youth becoming more prudish?

Even though we are already in our thirties, we still like to think of ourselves as youth. But every now and then reality gives us a punch in the face and puts our feed back on the ground. Then we notice that youth isn’t exactly how we remember it. Last week we had one of those days that actually came quite as quite a shock. A documentary on the Dutch TV revealed that teenagers shower less and less naked at school or in sport clubs. Especially showering naked in group seems to become quite not done. Either they shower wearing underwear (with an awkward towel dance at the end) or they wait until they get home to clean the dirt off.
Has this world gone mad?


Shower is education

The first question that flashed through our heads was: “How did we feel about public showers when we were kids?”
Well, there wasn’t exactly an option. After sports you showered. Naked. Together. Period.
Did we always enjoy this?
Probably not.
All adolescents struggle with their body image. They want to be normal, but they feel abnormal and they are very much afraid to become the joke of the day.
But in those days, if you didn’t dare to shower naked, you were the joke of the day.


So whether we liked it or not, there was no other option. And thinking back about this, it was probably for our own good. Of course we looked at each other and compared with ourselves, but that was part of the education.
Every penis was different, there were long ones, short ones, thick ones, thin ones, dark ones and white ones. Some had a lot of skin, some had a lot of hair and some could erect within 5 seconds.
There was no good or bad, no beautiful or ugly. Only diversion.
And girls were no difference. With so many shapes of breasts and vaginas, there was no way to determine what was best. Everyone was, in their own way.


Now maybe we are a bit romanticising. Of course some kids were made fun of under the shower. There was always that girl whose breasts didn’t get any volume or that boy whose pubic hair just didn’t start growing. But more important were the many kids who realised that they were quite normal after all.



So… Everywhere in the media you hear stories and statistics about sexting and yet we’re telling you that youth these days are becoming prudes… How does that even rhyme?
Well there is a big difference.
Where the fear of showering naked among others has everything to do with shame and low self esteem, is sexting mostly sexual (the name probably gave you a hint, right?)


Sexting 1
Picture: Report Abuse
It’s a big misunderstanding that kids who send around naked pictures of themselves are confident about their bodies.
They are certainly not.
The main reasons why they send those images is because they want to hear how good they’re looking. They decided themselves in which pose they think they look best and they know well enough that certain camera positions result in more accentuated body parts.


And that’s not the only bad news.
The fact that teenagers feel more confident to exchange nude selfies than to shower naked among friends means that they link nudity very much to sex.
Much more than we used to do…


Where does this come from?

Many psychologists have formulated their opinions about the prudery of mankind. Some blame the ages of religion weighing on our shoulders, others will tell you that it’s the fault of the government’s restrictions on nudity and lately the rise of the internet has gotten its part of the blame.


We think that it has much to do with education, and especially with over protection.
Even though we think that we’ve become very modern and liberal in our thoughts, it seems like nudity has become a bigger taboo than let’s say 25 years ago.
When we were kids, there were no age ratings on TV. Nobody told us to call the authorities if we saw a naked person and neither did anyone tell us horror stories about people exposing themselves to each other.


Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that you should keep your children ignorant about pedophilia or the dangers of the combination of naked bodies and a cell phone.
The key here is to talk about it.
Tell your children that there’s a difference between nudity and sex and encourage them to consciously explore their bodies.
Tell them about the dangers of sexting but don’t forbid it (a good tip here is to tell them to make sure that they’re always unrecognisable).
Tell them to compare themselves with real people instead of with images on the internet.

Tell them to shower naked.


Picture credit: The photos in this post are coming from Google and Twitter. If you find one of yourself and you don’t want it to be on our blog, let us know and we’ll remove it.

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14 thoughts on “Is our youth becoming more prudish?”

  1. I totally agree with all of this.
    My parents were textiles, until I was 10 my father took me swimming and even in a private cubicle he’d wrap towels around each of us so I didn’t even see him. In consequence I grew up convinced there was something so wrong with my body that I had to be covered.
    Then, at the age of 10, I was allowed to go swimming alone, and the pool had a big male open plan changing room. I saw naked men. More importantly I saw naked boys my own age and realised I was perfectly normal. My struggle changing in a towel ended that day.
    Now I’m in my late 50’s. I go swimming at my local pool a couple of times a week. Within the last couple of years they’ve put cubicles in, and it’s very rare you see children and teens change in the open plan area. Yet I have seen youngsters look at me as if I’m the brave one for showering naked.
    My daughter told me the changing room at her school gym was a lot of individual cubicles, and individual curtained showers, and should you dare to be seen naked (or semi naked) you’ll be mocked and criticised from then on.
    We need to be more open, we need more nudity or partial (female topless) on our beaches and at pools and in parks to reassure our children of both sexes that all sizes and shapes of bodies are beautiful and normal. Parents need to be more open about their bodies, families don’t need to freak out if someone is naked or sees someone else naked.
    Nudity needn’t be blatant, coming out of the bathroom naked after a shower, or wrapped in a towel and drying yourself as you chat to the kids or your parents, sleeping naked and not caring if the kids climb in or your parents come in to wake you, it just feels (or gets to feel very quickly) so normal and natural.
    And the kids will appreciate it.

  2. An interesting and well put together piece. The thing I take away from it is the need for all naturists to take responsibility for helping younger people separate the naked body from sex.
    How? By challenging the sexual and body specific comments that appear when nudity hits the main stream media. “If all nudist looked like” “Old and wrinkly you should keep it hidden” etc . Respond by with positive messages like “it is not about how you look it’s about freedom!”
    Remind people that you can have sex with clothing on … which communicate an intended I’m up for it more, a nude woman or one in a peep hole bra and crotchless knicker?

  3. When I was at school we had showers together, this seems to have stopped now. I am not shy about being nude in the swimming pool changing rooms but my two eldest grandsons are! I used to see women going out braless about twenty years ago, now it’s rare. Maybe kids are becoming more prudish, but I think it may be due to the society we live in now where people look at others as being sexual perverse.

  4. Not sure it is prudish or comfortably. Today’s youth are faced with more circumstances and situations affecting their social life. The atmosphere of the school environment has changed for them. The students are faced with more bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assaults, and body shaming. This type of behavior is can be found starting in elementary. It is all aided by technology. Today’s youth are known for having a smart phone in school with social media such as snapchat, and Instagram. All it takes is bullying student to catch a nude student in the shower and that student could be body shamed, humiliated, and embarrassed throughout the Internet, and the student body of the school. If this happens it is devastating to the student. The bad behavior that is mentioned can be found in every school district in the United States. This most likely the root of the situation. Yes folks it is happening.

  5. The shower youth has another, even more self-conscious, level these days (as I witnessed at my local gym). Young swimmers are now putting swimming shorts over the top of boxer shorts…to go swimming in…because they don’t want to change!

    In defence of youth people though, I dispute the fact that young people can be prudish. When does a young adult stop just imitating their older peers? When does a young adult start actively questionning what their parents have instilled in them? Are young people getting more prudish because they have “decided” to be so? I think probably not. It must be a nurturing effect to some extent. The nuturing is balanced with a self-controlled decision over how to act. Personally I don’t think young people tip over into self-decision making until their late 20s as the nurturing dominates their early adulthood. What we are seeing then in young adults is how parents and culture have taught them to act…parents and culture that are still largely the domain of older adults.

  6. I consider restrictions on nudity as a form of social control

     Theoretically they help to dominate concupiscence, but this produced a double moral, and a hypocritical culture.
    The result is insecurity and debauchery, are the two sides of the same coin.
    The insecurity of body hiding when showering and bulling are the same faces of the same coin.
    The media and social networks for the most part do not help, they are part of the problem.

     Nudists and naturists are different in this respect, assuming that nudity is not synonymous with sex is a coherent medium and solves the double moral of society
     (Translated with Google, my English is lousy)

  7. Very thoughtful and nicely worded piece. The comments from others are as well. I believe the entertainment industry is a big part of the blame because the only time they show or depict nudity is when sex is about to occur or is happening. However that’s just not real life as there is a lot of normal nudity in the home when sex is not involved. Growing up in a rural farming area, on hot dusty days it was not uncommon at all for my father, two brothers and sometimes their friends and other men who had helped do some field work, would come to the house, strip naked and wash off out doors with a garden hose and then sit around outside in the shade and breeze drying off. My mother and I would take them ice water and towels, no one was embarrassed or thought anything of it, it was just life. Yes my mother and I were more discreet but when you live in a one bathroom home and you’re in the tub sometimes dad or brothers couldn’t wait, it was just normal life, we thought nothing of it. My husband had very similar experiences growing up as well. We both as nudist when in a locker room situation do not try to hide ourselves from others, to us it’s just unnatural. We hope those who see us realize that nudity is really normal and just part of life.

    Ms. K

  8. It all seemed to change with the advent of mobile phones with cameras, now people are worried about being photographed or filmed. In private young people havnt changed that much.

    • That’s certainly one of the main causes and you see that fear in other places as well. In the past it was for example easy to spot someone with a camera on a nude beach, but now you never know whether a person is just texting or taking photos with their phone.

  9. Yes when I was in school that’s what I saw during gym class when changing out at middle school no one took showers even though they had a big open shower room in the locker room but nobody used it exsept for hiding out while changing yes even I used a cubicle stall but only because it had a hook on the door to hang your clothes on . But not only that if your gym class was ether in the middle of the day or 7th hour at the end of the school day the bell would ring for you to go to your next class or lunch or to catch the bus and there was no time to take a shower or try to change clothes because gym class would sometimes run a little over the hour . So it was ether take a shower and risk being tardy or late to for lunch when they stop serving or miss your bus ride home and would have to walk

  10. The covering of the human body, in Ontario, began to change when the YMCA to boost members, switched to a family Y. The buildings were built with glass viewing areas into the pool and naked-men-only swims stopped. Up until that time, I swam naked in high school gym classes, in scouts skinny dipping and for swims at the YMCA. The shower rooms had a large spigot in the middle of the floor with nozzles surrounding it, or nozzles around the perimeter of the room. Towels were handed out at one Quebec high school after gym, and they was expected to be wet after your shower. Teachers excused us from being a bit late to class if we were slow coming from gym class and the shower. Today, I am perhaps, one of less than 1% of members in my gym, who walk around the change/shower/shave areas naked; others try their best to wrap a towel around them. Another point for females.. Young girls in school, used to be teased if they wore padded bras… today, you’d probably be hard pressed to find a woman’s bra that isn’t padded…and some women are trying to “free the nipple.” I challenge both genders…. ditch the padded bras, and ditch the surfers’ board shorts for swimming. Show a bit of body contour, it’s only natural.

  11. I recently went on a holiday with my teenage daughters and the hotel we stayed in had a big bath with no door to the bathroom. They were petrified of being seen naked, not just by me, but by each other. I told them the tales of having ‘family saunas’ in Denmark with uncles, aunts and cousins, which they were just horrified by. I agree that somehow nudity is more equated with sex these days, but the UK was always like that! Basically the rest of Europe is becoming more British! Ironic, considering Brexit is just around the corner. I think part of it is due to the increased media focus on paedophilia, which makes it almost impossible to do the group naked activities that used to take place (communal baths after rugby, skinny dipping scout outings, etc).

    • Paedophilia is certainly a reason why parents became much more conservative but we doubt the influence it has on kids. We were teenagers in the nineties, when there was a huge paedophilia case in Belgium. For months and months the news was full of it. But we don’t recall that it scared us that much.

      For teenagers their image is very important. Back in the day, we were scared that someone would see a part of our body which was not like we would love it to be and would go spread the word around school. But at the time those were just words, there wasn’t really any proof. Today all kids have cameras and ways to spread the “evidence” not only among a bunch of classmates but basically around the whole world.
      We’ve read stories about kids being bullied by someone who they didn’t know, possibly even from another country.

  12. “The fact that teenagers feel more confident to exchange nude selfies than to shower naked among friends means that they link nudity very much to sex.”

    Unspoken is the non-PC reality of human life. Showering among SAME sex people (or “among friends” as gays are euphemistically called in the article) is more disturbing than showing off naked for appropriate sex partners. Its the SAME SEX that aggression that has become offensive and feared. No amount of PC arguments about what “ought to” be acceptable is going to make it acceptable.


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