Covering Up the Body Before Puberty

by Lana Hope cross posted from her blog Wide Open Ground

I recent post by Aletha really stood out to me. This is where she talks about where the pain of modesty began.

I started developing breasts when I was 8.  The first time I ever thought about them was in kid’s Sunday School.  I had been wearing a dress that I loved. It had flowers, and a petticoat, and lace.  It was also a year old, so it was a bit tight, and a bit short.  But it was my favourite.  It was, apparently, also a bit low cut.  I don’t know how much cleavage I was showing, but a Primary teacher took me aside and told me that my dress was immodest, and I should cover myself better next time. I didn’t want to cause problems for boys, did I?

I’ll repeat, I WAS 8! I didn’t even know what problems boys could have, except cooties.  But that was the first time I felt that my body was disgusting.  I was ashamed of my body, ashamed of being called out.  That wasn’t the last time, though, that I would hate how I looked.

See, it’s not really about “tempting” boys, is it? Because the teacher was talking to a kid, not some grown woman who was running around intentionally trying to flash her breast in public. This is not to say boys and girls aren’t sexual beings; I think we all are. But seriously, what’s up with forcing a 8 year old girl to make her own developing body to be some kind of “sex” sign. That? ugh.

But that just flashed so much in my mind, and got me thinking. I had to cover up my dang body looooong before puberty. I had to wear skirts below the knee, and long swim wear (I didn’t even get to wear a one piece, no seriously), and high collars, etc, etc. BEFORE PUBERTY.  So we were hiding my body when I was 7 years old so who wouldn’t look at me?

I remember another time when my sister did a film. We had about 20 homeschool kids on a small film set, with only one bathroom. One of the homeschool moms said the boys were not allowed to change SHIRTS in front of each other, say behind a tree, so the bathroom lines got waaaaaaaaaay out of hand.

No matter how I try to think of this, it’s all just super creepy to me now. As one who got no sex education at all, I sure was taught a lot about sex before I even developed.

When I see little kids in their backyard naked, I just usually say to myself, “thank God they get to be two.”

I hope you read the rest of Aletha’s post. Good stuff.

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Read everything by Lana Hope!

Lana Hope was homeschooled 1st-12th grade in a small town and rural culture. Involved in ATI, her life growing up was gendered, sheltered, and with a lot of shame and rules in disguise of Biblical principles and character qualities. After college Lana moved to SE Asia and began working with the abused, and upon discovering that the large world is not at all like she had been taught, she finally questioned it all, from Calvinism to the homeschool movement to the foundation of her Christian faith. Today Lana is a Christian Universalist, holds a B.A. in English, and is currently working on a M.A. in philosophy.  She blogs about the struggles she has faced leaving fundamentalism and homeschooling behind and how travel and missions has wrecked her life for good and bad at her blog www.wideopenground.com.

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