In 2009, Jean-Julien Chervier wrote and directed La Fonte des neiges (“The melting of the snows”), a two-reeler in which a horrified 12-year-old boy is dragged to a naturist camp by his cheerfully naked mom; in a spectacularly passive-aggressive move, he wears about twice as much as might be appropriate for the season, plus blackout glasses.
I don’t remember my mom ever being cheerful, let alone naked, but I did sympathize with the overdressed lad. Things happen when you’re twelve:
Hormones start rushing through our veins and we become very insecure. Add to that a lot of important decisions that suddenly have to be made and a group of friends of whom some are slightly further in the process and others slightly behind.
You need to think about what you want to study, you need to decide which music you like, you need to find a girlfriend or a boyfriend, you need to have sex for the first time and most importantly: you need to belong. At that age, you can’t afford to make a mistake. You’re a skater and you wear baggy pants and grow your hear and listen to some kind of punk music. You’re a nerd and have to know everything about the latest games and star wars and Stephen Hawking. Being a naturist isn’t often seen as the best choice at this age. It has very little visual aspects which make it easy to become one. Except the nudity of course, but let that be the one thing you’re currently completely uncomfortable with.
I had a sister who, at twelve, declared herself a nudist, but I don’t remember anyone in her peer group who ever followed her example, and after she died (early forties), friends of hers descended upon me and asked why she was That Way. I had no answer for them. The happy few friends of mine who go unclad when they can — the operative word is “few” — all seem to have started experimenting with it during adolescence.
And that French kid eventually got talked out of his clothing by (quelle surprise) a girl visiting the camp, with the help of an odd-looking plant she’d found on the premises.