COPENHAGEN — “OK, youngsters, does anybody have a query?” the TV present’s host, Jannik Schow, requested. Just a few within the viewers of 11- to 13-year-olds raised their fingers. “Keep in mind, you possibly can’t do something fallacious,” he mentioned. “There are not any unhealthy questions.”
You may’t blame the youngsters if their ideas have been elsewhere. On a stage earlier than them in a heated studio in Copenhagen stood 5 adults in bathrobes. There was a quick second of silence, as faces turned severe. Having mentioned it for days earlier than at school, the youngsters knew what was coming subsequent. Mr. Schow gave slightly nod, and the adults solid off their robes.
Going through the youngsters, and the cameras, they stood fully bare, like statues, with their fingers and arms folded behind their backs.
And so started a recording of the newest episode of an award-winning Danish youngsters’s program, “Extremely Strips Down,” which is proven on Extremely, the on-demand youngsters’s channel of the nationwide broadcaster, DR. The subject as we speak: pores and skin and hair.
The present’s producers say this system is supposed as an academic instrument to struggle physique shaming and encourage physique positivity. And so first reluctantly, later enthusiastically, the youngsters from the Orestad School in Copenhagen requested the adults questions like: “At what age did you develop hair on the decrease a part of your physique?” “Do you take into account eradicating your tattoos?” “Are you happy along with your personal components?”
One of many adults, Martin, answered that he had by no means had “unfavorable ideas” about his personal components. One other grownup, additionally named Martin, admitted that when he was younger he had fearful about measurement. “However the relationship with myself has modified over time,” he mentioned.
With severe seems on their faces, the youngsters nodded.
This system is now in its second season, and whereas maybe a shock to non-Danes, it’s extremely in style in Denmark. Lately, nonetheless, a number one member of the right-wing Danish Individuals’s Occasion, Peter Skaarup, mentioned he discovered “Extremely Strips Down” to be “depraving our youngsters.”
“It’s far too early for youngsters” to begin with female and male genitalia, he instructed B.T., a Danish tabloid. At that age, he mentioned, they “have already got many issues working round of their heads.”
“They should study it on the proper time,” he added, saying this data must be offered by mother and father or colleges “in order that it isn’t delivered on this vulgar means, as the youngsters’s channel does.”
For probably the most half, although, Danes have lengthy been comfy with nudity, at public seashores, as an illustration.
Mr. Schow, 29, who helped develop the idea of the present after a producer got here up with the concept, mentioned the purpose was additionally to counter the every day bombardment of younger folks with photos of excellent — unrealistic — our bodies. The adults aren’t actors, however volunteers.
“Maybe some persons are like, ‘Oh, my God, they’re combining nakedness and youngsters,’” Mr. Schow mentioned. “However this has nothing to do with intercourse, it’s about seeing the physique as pure, the best way youngsters do.”
Many Danes imagine youngsters shouldn’t be shielded from the realities of life, giving them plenty of unsupervised time to play and discover, even when they may harm themselves.
“We acknowledge the importance of a bruise,” mentioned Sofie Münster, a nationally recognized expert in “Nordic Parenting.” “Danish parenting typically favors exposing youngsters relatively than shielding them.”
One well-known instance of how far the Danes take this philosophy was the euthanization and dissection of a giraffe on the Copenhagen Zoo in 2014, the place youngsters noticed from the entrance row.
Overseas it was seen by many as a nightmarish spectacle, topped off by the feeding of the carcass to the lions, however in Denmark folks shrugged their shoulders. The kids within the viewers that day had requested “excellent questions,” one zoo official instructed CNN.
“Whereas some might choose to be overcareful, we might choose to be under-careful,” Ms. Münster mentioned. “It’s about being free and discovering your self.” If a toddler falls from a tree and breaks an arm, that may not be “superb,” she added, however it will probably serve a bigger goal.
A youngsters’s program that includes bare adults may be taking the Danish method to the intense, she admitted. However the Danish means of coping with easing youngsters’s anxieties over physique points is “to reveal them” to bare our bodies.
“That is how we educate our youngsters,” she mentioned. “We present them actuality as it’s.”
Requested throughout this system on pores and skin and hair why she determined to participate, one of many adults, Ule, 76, mentioned she needed to point out the youngsters that excellent our bodies are uncommon and that what they see on social media is usually deceptive.
“On Fb or Instagram, many individuals are style fashions,” she mentioned. “Us right here, we have now bizarre our bodies. I hope you’ll perceive that ordinary our bodies appear like this,” she instructed the viewers, pointing at her bare self.
Through the recording, when one of many Martins instructed the youngsters that when he was their age, girls and boys used to share the identical locker room and showers, Mr. Schow intervened, asking them if they might discover that awkward.
“Yessss,” all of them responded. “It feels extra protected to bathe with others of the identical gender,” a boy defined on digital camera.
Disgrace of being imperfect comes from social media, Mr. Schow mentioned.
“Ninety % of the our bodies you see on social media are excellent, however that isn’t how 90 % of the world seems,” he mentioned. “Now we have additional fats, or hair, or pimples. We need to present youngsters from an early age that that is positive.”
In its first season, in 2019, “Extremely Strips Down” gained an award for the very best youngsters’s program of 2019 on the Danish TV Pageant. Within the 2020 season, the present, which is produced by the Danish department of Warner Bros. International Television Production, will provide 5 new episodes on quite a lot of matters, every to an viewers from largely completely different colleges.
The kids’s security comes first, the present’s producers mentioned. Dad and mom should consent for youngsters to be on this system; the producers don’t present the youngsters and the adults in a single shot; and the youngsters are requested regularly in the event that they really feel comfy.
If a toddler does change into uncomfortable, he or she can be part of their trainer within the studio. “However we have now had over 250 youngsters in our viewers,” Mr. Schow mentioned, “and this has by no means occurred.”
Rasmus Engelhardt Gundersen, a graphic designer who’s the daddy of one of many youngsters collaborating, mentioned, “We had no reservations.”
“The notion that persons are completely different and have completely different our bodies is one thing we’d like youngsters to expertise,” he added.
The recorded episodes, now out there in censored clips of this system on YouTube, characteristic adults with completely different physique varieties — white, Black, fats, skinny, quick, tall, young and old. There was John, an individual with dwarfism, and Muffe, a person who had small horns implanted below the pores and skin of his bald head.
Full inclusiveness is among the present’s key goals, which is why the youngsters have been additionally launched to Rei, who’s transgender, had a vasectomy and testosterone therapy, and who identifies as they/them.
“I’m not a boy, not a woman, I’m a little bit of every part,” mentioned Rei, displaying a tattoo-covered chest and a shaved head. “I’ve seven hairs of beard now,” Rei mentioned.
The kids needed to know if Rei had “felt completely different at school,” what toilet they use and what swimwear they selected for the seaside.
After the present, three youngsters sat cross-legged within the grass outdoors the TV studio to debate the expertise. At first, they mentioned, they’d giggled on the concept of the present. However they’d realized one thing helpful, they mentioned.
“It was humorous,” mentioned Theodore Knightley, 11. “I favored the recommendation they gave us.”
Ida Engelhardt Gundersen, 13, mentioned she had been nervous at first. “I’m not used to seeing volunteers butt bare and asking them questions,” she mentioned. “However we realized in regards to the physique and about how different folks really feel about their our bodies.”
Sonya Chakrabarthy Geckler, 11, mentioned that she hadn’t been positive what to anticipate. However, she mentioned, she “felt extra assured about her personal physique now.”