My parents first introduced me to group nudity in 1954. I was 10. My brother was 16.
It was in a large sauna at Gunter Lake between Madoc and Bancroft Ontario. My uncle and aunt took part, and their two daughters ages 7 and 13. It was the first time I had seen a girl with no clothes on.
Startling to say the least.
After an hour or so of listening to exaggerated fishing stories among the adults, and what fish taste best or put up the greatest fight, we quiet kids slowly mustered the courage to talk. Talking to cousins in the nude was not something that had ever entered my mind, but this new experience was an eye opener. The fact that there was no overt sexual overtones nor giggling or snickering going on among us kids, and that we took this invitation to learn that family nudity does not reduce to sex – was in hindsight a huge psychological growth experience for me. There was no shame attached after the initial discomfort had waned. Four naked cousins could actually end up sharing jokes in complete comfort and mutual respect – all within about 2 hours. Our age differences collapsed into a new group harmony we never had. Nudity was a momentary levelling of just about every odd value we each brought into the room.
Both families left the sauna with a new alliance, and no restrictions were placed on us kids as to who we could tell. This trust in our new ‘ethical maturity’ stayed with the four of us for the rest of our lives, as we became very close from then on. And it probably was natural for closeness to develop because my Mom’s sister had married my Dad’s brother. Both sets of parents were very comfortable with sharing their nakedness.
It was indeed a bold step for all our parents to take, and it taught us all that non-sexual body acceptance was not a formidable barrier to overcome at our age.
I suppose it had paid off when one of my daughters (both our daughters were taught body acceptance at a young age) reacted to a boy pulling his pants down in front of her in the the schoolyard. Her reaction was to yawn, and say “That’s boring.” Then walk away.