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How Much Art Is Too Much For My Kindergartener?

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My daughter and I were at the library the other day, and I happened to grab a book on art as we walked in. I thought we would have fun looking at it together and maybe even learn something along the way…

We had only looked at a few paintings when we turned the page to see a painting of a lady, completely nude, being looked at by a group of men.

“Oops! She forgot to put her clothes on!” I said, as I quickly turned the page.

She immediately flipped the page back to look at the painting again. We talked about how the lady felt about being naked, based on the way she was standing. We decided that she was embarrassed and didn’t want to be naked. Then I turned the page again, trying to put that behind us.

We looked at another painting, but the naked lady before the men was obviously sticking in her mind, because she soon flipped the page back to look at it again.

We talked about how she was being sold as a slave. How it isn’t right for anybody to “own” another person. And, again, I flipped the page.

We lasted about five minutes before she wanted to go back for another look. Then it was time to leave the library.

Now she wants to go back and check out the book. There are a lot of naked people in the book. I’m all for art appreciation and art education, but how healthy is it for my five-year-old to look at so many renditions of the human body in all its glory?

There should be a manual…

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About mmmyatt

  • Tom Cornell

    Here’s your big chance! You can seize this opportunity to impress upon your daughter how people treat the wonder that is the Human body.

    Will you sully her with the notion that the Human body is indecent and should be considered shameful? Or will you honor it by discussing with her how some (not all) have yet to recognize its beauty?

    Make it a good choice.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Yea… I agree with Tom.

    But, I felt uncomfortable when I first read your article only because of the Religious & Parental brainwashing I had when I was growing up. I really don’t understand how this stigmatization of the Human Body got so popular.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Why would it be unhealthy in any way for your daughter to look at this particular book?

    I’d trust her instincts over any parental moralistic concerns any day…

  • Una

    Mel, perhaps Mr. Henry can give an art lesson. Seriously. He can give the lesson in exchange for the tattoo from Tate. By the way, I love the discussion you had about the painting – analyzing it, talking about it, imagining the meaning. You’re a great mom!

  • Shannon

    That’s a toughie — Western culture sexualizes girls so young these days that some barely seem to have a childhood. I remember that I didn’t care about clothes till 8th grade, coming out of my hicktown elementary school; now I see 7 and 8 year olds with purses and lipstick and bras before boobs. The comments above are pretty harsh but I think it’s honoring the body is important at the same time as preserving innocence. I remember a leader at a home church event saying “shame, shame!” to a couple of young children who ran through the house (they lived in) naked, and it seemed like a very damaging thing to do (though they might have been too young to realize what he was saying). Tough balance!

  • http://myattkids.blogspot.com Melanie

    i definitely want to teacher her to think of the body as beautiful, i just don’t know that she needs to see so much nudity to be appreciative. i am definitely concerned about her being sexualized at a young age…

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    How did we get from nudity in art to sexualizing children? Nakedness and sexuality are surely different things…

    You appear to be suggesting that great art is corrupting children which is just a bit weird and potentially says more about you than nudity, sexuality or art.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    If you treat the naked human body as taboo in your household then sexuality will play the role of teacher when your children get older. Sex will only hold a negative connotation if it’s being taught by other kids/teens who don’t know much either.
    The parent is the only one here who can combat this vicious cycle by giving the gift of knowledge!! Nudity,Sexuality & Art aren’t the enemy, People and their strange beliefs are…

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    mmmyatt,

    On the limited info available, this is my guess:

    It seems that the picture that stands out for you is the single one where all the men are staring at the woman. I’d wager that you are not an uptight person (based on your perusal of this book with your daughter, in the first place).

    I don’t think we are discussing nudity, per se, here. Art makes statements. Some of those statements may not be appropriate for a particular child at a particular age.

    All nude pictures/artworks are not equal. It’s not just a matter of nudity. Some nude pictures celebrate the body, some express beauty, promote self-(and other)acceptance, etc. Some make statements that are for more experienced eyes. Some treat the body as a commodity.

    The piece with the woman being stared at by the men might have been making a statement that a 5 year old would not have enough experience to benefit from. (I say, might, I’m just making guesses from partial info.)

    That said, children will see a lot of things whether they are prepared for them or not. Discussion is really important, imo. They can be very philosophical very young.