I was intrigued to read an article in the New York Times this past week about summer camps that have a “no body talk” rule, which requires campers to “take a break from mentioning physical appearance, including clothing.” The rule disallows “body talk,” no matter whether it is positive, negative, or neutral, about oneself or others.
I had never heard of such a rule, and it really struck me.
At one camp in particular, Eden Village, signs are posted on the mirrors saying, “Don’t check your appearance, check your soul.” And when campers there are gussied up for Sabbath services where they wear all white, they don’t comment on each other’s appearances, but rather say things like, “Your soul shines” or “I feel so happy to be around you” or “Your smile lights up the world.”
As someone who cares about both the inner and outer world, this concept really gave me pause. I often comment on both my children’s appearances (both my son and daughter) and frequently compliment them on some aspect of how they look or what they’re wearing. Of course, I comment on the type of people they are, like how kind they are or whether they have done a good job sharing, but I assumed that positive focus on their appearance would also help lead to self esteem.
It was interesting to read that many families who send their children to these camps end up adopting the “no body talk” rule at home and that one camper felt that her friends at camp love her for who she is, presumably in part because of this rule. There were a few people in the article who argued against such a rule, but the whole thing really made me stop and think.
I’m still working through my feelings about all of this, and I’d love to hear what you think. What do you think of a “no body talk” rule? Is it something you’d use in your own family?
Photo via We Heart It