I love the answer to this query on Ukpuru, a multi-platform site that showcases ‘historical images of the Igbo, their neighbours and beyond’:
I am somewhat reminded of the stares we used to get when my daughter and I would go swimming and she would be topless. She was a baby (a few months old) and continued to swim topless until she was about two. I didn’t (don’t)think it was a big deal, but others at the pool would stare and sometimes ask why she wasn’t wearing a suit. They would laugh like it was funny, but why would anyone ask why a baby isn’t wearing a suit at the pool? If it was a matter of hygiene, well she always had bottoms on.
I used to say, ‘Why should she?’ and I can’t remember what responses that got, if any. I can’t imagine anyone ever gave me an intelligent or even interesting reason why a small child should dress ‘modestly’ at the pool. And I’m pretty sure modesty was uppermost in the minds of these morons.
I like the bit in the above response about there not being a ‘sexualised/moralistic view of the nude human body’in Igbo society before they were ‘civilised’ by the white man (ohhhh, vomit). What the white man and Christianity did do was put an end to the sensible way nudity was regarded and practised. ‘Save your souls! Put on a pair of knickers!’