The bodies in this life-affirming picturebook come in every shape and size, and all of them are naked. But as Rosie Haines points out, being nude is most decidedly not rude – everyone has a bum, and we should celebrate our bodies in all their wonderful diversity.
Exuberant, inclusive and kind, It Isn’t Rude to be Nude draws on centuries of artistic tradition and breathes new life into the ‘body book.’ With the clear and respectful eye of an artist in a life class, Haines depicts skin tones and markings as they really are. Some characters have scars or wrinkles, others have tattoos, and differences of many kinds are visible.
It Isn’t Rude to be Nude has the feel of a rather gorgeous sketchbook. Characters are captured in motion and at rest, as if we had happened upon them as they were busy with their daily lives, but the text that guides us doesn’t always seem quite sure what voice to take. Willies get away with some silliness, while those with vulvas are instructed to be proud, and the dynamic between straight-talking didacticism and cheerful jollity leads to a slightly inconsistent tone. But discussions about terminology are necessary, and it’s the artwork that takes the starring role – these pictures really do say a thousand words, and this book will initiate conversations that can be developed as children mature and gain insight.
With popular culture saturated in sexualized imagery, the ready accessibility of pornography and a rise in body dysmorphia and eating disorders, we appear as a society to be confused about our bodies and how we feel about them. Attitudes to nudity within children’s homes will vary, but whatever cultural views prevail, this exuberant, affectionate and deeply inclusive book has something important to contribute.