Diversity on children’s television: GEWOON. BLOOT.

As someone with a deep desire to have children one day, I’m already thinking about how to teach them to be unapologetically themselves. Social media isn’t going to go away any time soon, so how would I handle that as a parent? How would I handle the insecurities that come with having an online self? Body image issues are part of puberty sure, but I will take any strategy that can prevent this, or at least make it less awful. You can imagine how happy I was finding a television show that exposes children to real, normal and different kinds of bodies!

What is GEWOON. BLOOT.?

Please don’t let this image scare you Americans (or whoever else isn’t used to seeing naked people); it’s just a picture of 4 adults wearing zero clothes, nothing weird or sexual about that. We’re all naked sometimes.

GEWOON. BLOOT. (‘just/simply naked’) is a Dutch television show for young children, based on the Danish ‘Ultra smider tøjet’. Each episode discusses a certain topic (i.e. hair, being transgender, specific genitals, weight, etc.), and kids of 11 or 12 years old are exposed to 5 naked adults. The presenter asks the children questions and they in turn can ask the adults questions about their bodies. The group discusses insecurities, change and puberty; they talk about what is normal and why people look different.

Consent in GEWOON. BLOOT.

What will probably worry most people, is whether this is harmful for children relating to sexual consent and pedophilia. Trust me, I was one of those people. However, the producers do a lot to make sure everyone is comfortable:

  • Both the adults and children are asked if they’re comfortable showing and seeing naked bodies. Also, the presenter tells children to never show their own naked body if asked by a stranger or if they don’t want to. He warns them that it’s never okay to share nudes online and tells everyone that they can leave at any time.
  • The show is broadcasted at 19:20; a time when both the children and parents are watching tv together at home. It means that parents are still able to turn the show off if necessary and talk about it with their kids.
  • Trained employees watch the episodes carefully and fill in a questionnaire made by scientists to determine whether it’s okay to show to children.
  • It is produced together with Rutgers, Kenniscentrum seksualiteit, an organization that provides help and advice to everyone about sexuality, consent and sexual health.
  • At the end of each episode they refer to the ChildLine.
  • Nothing sexual happens. Nudity in an educational and supportive context is even found to have a positive impact (Tapper et al., 2019).
  • The models are carefully casted; it is made sure that they are participating for the right reasons, and they need a Certificate of Good Conduct. The children are selected with the approval of their parents.
  • The website gives advice to parents on how to handle any negative responses of their children.

The significance of GEWOON. BLOOT.

In the Digital Age it is only a matter of time that children find sexual content or photoshopped images of peers and celebrities. Usually these visuals adhere to current beauty ideals, due to a desire to belong and to be found attractive. By photoshopping selfies and using filters, the beauty ideal is reinforced. It means that viewers are continuously exposed to one type of body. Most of the time it is an unrealistic body; a body that is unattainable (López-Guimerà et al., 2010).

Social comparisons happen. People start to compare themselves to what they see online, and as a result, feel like their appearance isn’t normal (López-Guimerà et al., 2010). Fortunately there’s the body positive movement, that celebrates all kinds of bodies. It is so important to start exposing kids to a broad range of bodies at an early age. GEWOON. BLOOT. cannot compensate for all of the thin-ideal images children find online, but it’s definitely a start! It helps them accept the way they look, and makes them see that the average human-being does in fact, not look like a supermodel or pornstar. It helps them understand the changes they will go through during puberty, and prevent a negative body image (Ogden et al., 2020).

If you want to read more, you can go to their website. You do have to use Google Translate I’m afraid.


I hope you have enjoyed reading about why tv shows like these are so important! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Lots of warm hugs,

Juppie


References

López-Guimerà, G., Levine, M. P., Sánchez-Carracedo, D., & Fauquet, J. (2010). Influence of mass media on body image and eating disordered attitudes and behaviors in females: A review of effects and processes. Media Psychology, 13, 387-416.

Ogden, J., Gosling, C., Hazelwood, M. & Atkins, E. (2020). Exposure to body diversity images as a buffer against the thin-ideal: An experimental study. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 25:10, 1165-1178.

Tapper, L., Gardner, S., Bagshaw, S. & Schroder, R. (2019). Literature Review: Impacts on Children and Young People of Exposure to Nudity on Television and Other Media. Retrieved from The Collaborative Trust website: https://www.bsa.govt.nz/research-and-reports/research/all-research/literature-review-impacts-on-children-and-young-people-of-exposure-to-nudity-on-television-and-other-media-2019/.

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