Clothing Optional

I just finished reading a funny blog post about trying to explain appropriate public clothing options to four year olds. It reminded me of a conversation Matthew and I had about a month ago, at a playground in Dumbo. It was early in the summer, and the sprinklers had just come on. Having not properly prepared for this, we had not packed a bathing suit or a change of clothes for Maya, but we told her that if she wanted to get wet it was fine. She would just have to go home in wet clothes and could of course change when she got there. She elected to stay dry but it prompted this discussion:

Me: I suppose she could just go in her underwear.
Matthew: (looking thoughtful and slightly troubled) I don't know. She's probably too old for that now.
Me: (looking thoughtful and slightly annoyed) I guess so. But why? Who cares?
Matthew: Society cares.

And he's right. They probably do. I have never seen the official rule book but I am betting that the cutoff age for half naked sprinkler time for a girl is probably around 3 years old. After that, you are gonna get funny looks from all the Dumbo mamas. (All except for the nice European ones whose kids are naked in the playground until puberty.) Which, when you think about it, is ridiculous. Anatomically there is absolutely no difference between a topless five year old girl and a topless five year old boy. Maya does not have breasts. There is no logical reason why she needs to cover up her chest, just like there is no logical reason why Beta Dad's four year old girls can't run around naked at the pool. It is just "frowned upon". Just like it is frowned upon for grown women to parade around with their see-you-next-Tuesday poking out of their skirts. (Except on Halloween, when for some reason all social decency flies out the window, and anything goes.)

Also, during a heat wave.

Don't be alarmed. My sun fried brain understands that going topless while running a summer camp for young children is still not appropriate. But when it is 98 degrees outside, with a heat index of 110, certain things no longer matter in the slightest.
  1. What my hair looks like. It is much more important that it is up in some elaborate ponytail, bun, braid-like thingy and that every strand is off of my damn neck! And that it is always, always wet, with icy cold droplets continuously falling all over my back and shoulders. Oh, and my hair is curly. And it is 95% humidity in this city. Ya'll ladies know. It is a losing battle. 
  2. Makeup. Seriously??? Putting stuff on your face?? My face is melting. No thank you.
  3. Likewise with heels. No thank you.
  4. Men without shirts. I normally am not a shirts versus skins kind of gal but in this heat, go ahead and take it off. I don't care what you look like. Six hundred pounds, whatever, go for it dude. Believe me, I would if I could. 
  5. Women in skimpy anything. No judgement here. It's 100 degrees outside! Wear whatever the hell you want. (Yeah I know all you guys are cheering. Everybody loves a heat wave!) Hell, I am currently sitting here in a tank top that is meant to be pajamas. I spent half of camp with a wet towel draped around my neck. Yup, that's high fashion. America's Next Top Model, here I come! 
  6. Adults in the sprinkler. That dude in the trench coat sitting creepily on the playground bench is still not welcome. But if you want to take a quick dash through the sprinkler, go ahead! Also those nice open fire hydrants that are a staple of NYC summers? Please jump in. Or at least dunk your head. Trust me, it is wonderful! 
And by the way, if you find yourself suddenly in a playground today with your kid and no bathing suit, and you want to let him or her splash around naked, go right ahead! You won't be getting anything from me except for a smile and a nod of pure understanding.

It's f**king hot out there!


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