I came across this fascinating documentary about nude swimming in schools. I have been arguing that our modern aversion to images of the naked child is very recent. This documentary reveals that in many parts of America is was common for boys to swim naked up until the 60’s and 70’s.
However, what I find even more fascinating is how quickly this piece of social history was forgotten. What this tells us is that people can choose to forget once common social customs when those customs have become sexualised, shameful or embarrassing – or deemed politically incorrect.
The documentary is on Youtube and has been split into 3 parts – part 2 is the better section. I do not claim it is a good documentary. It is in need of tighter editing and the director does tend to get sidetracked. However it does contain important documentary evidence that nude swimming was a widespread practice and even a health requirement.
I should add that modern censorship and concerns over child pornography means that contemporary film makers may never be able to depict this historical practice, thus reinforcing the idea that it never happened.