Maiden Voyages: May 2023

Membership Instructions: I feel I have to remind readers about membership procedures. Please remember that this site is run by volunteers and that we cannot get to requests immediately. Also, some registered members are not realizing that logging in for the first time does not guarantee that the process will be automatic after that. You need to keep the instructions I sent you in case you have to log in again. Changes in email will not affect the log in procedure except where changed passwords are sent. You can go into your account and alter your information or I will be happy to do it upon request.

The Demise of More Image Accounts: A reader who has been in communication with Christian has reported about the demise of a couple of his Tumblr accounts. He has been active on Tumblr since 2010 and his main blog, Foxy’s Fancies, was very active over the last four years, containing over 8000 posts. A couple weeks before I received the email, he added a secondary blog called Ada’s Angels whose purpose was to follow recent developments in AI generated images and share photorealistic work that was especially beautiful. After posting the image below, the blogger was notified that his accounts were terminated. Attempts to follow up were just ignored. He’s been rather depressed ever since (been there) but grateful to have Christian to share his predicament with. Pigtails will be making some efforts to preserve some of the more interesting examples for members to view.

[The blogger generously preserved both posted and yet-to-be-posted images from the Ada’s Angels blog and readers are welcome to view and download them (or the zip files). -Ron]

Secret Dreams: It may seem strange to many of us, but sometimes young girls dream of becoming Victoria Secret models. In their naivete, they are probably not aware of the culture of misogyny before that company’s demise (this news item was in 2016), but some like Gigi and Bella Hadid followed up on their dreams and achieved their goal. Interestingly, their mother shot the girls dolled up in angel’s wings years earlier.

Art on Art: Some have posited that the human body itself is an artform and so the notion of body-painting has always struck me as a kind of double art. A reader has shared the site Projet Symbiose whose focus is to share photographs of body painting from various sources. Some of these look familiar and must have been shared on this site before. I had hoped to do a proper post on the subject, especially as a customary practice in naturist communities.

Mystery Album Cover Art: A reader just submitted an interesting album cover for something called ‘Sax Club Number 14 “Romantic”‘ by Gil Ventura (1977). There is a girl on the cover art reminiscent of Fabio Cabral’s work. We were hoping some of our readers would recognize the image and confirm the photographer’s identity.

Show Me More: A while ago, Pigtails did a post on Will McBride and Helga Fleischauer-Hardt’s famous and controversial work Show Me! (English title). What I didn’t know at the time was that a sequel was made—probably only published in German—Zeig Mal Mehr! I could not tell the reader who brought it to my attention any more about it. The question is: how different is this volume from the original, are there any digital copies and how does one get access to them? A few links have been provided to help with the research: here, here, here, here and here.

Forgotten Flattery: There was an interesting artist, Vladimir Timofeev, who created an image imitating Hajime Sawatari’s ‘Alice’ series. The site that hosted that image has been shut down because of violations of Terms of Service—big surprise, right? We don’t always archive images discussed in ‘Maiden Voyages’ so if any readers know where this image is or has a copy, would you please share? [Christian was kind enough to provide a link to this artist’s page. There are many portraits of little girls but I don’t think any of these were meant to emulate Sawatari. -Ron]

The Art of Girls Residence

I will call the artist Girls Residence because that appears to be his preferred professional name in English.  Girls Residence is Japanese, and in the far east artists commonly use pseudonyms.  His artist’s name in Japanese is 伸長に関する考察. His Japanese name can be written in the Roman alphabet as “Shinchō ni Kansuru Kōsatsu”.  Fantia, a Japanese artist’s website, translates the name into English as “Consideration on Elongation”.  I think “Study of Growth” is a more natural sounding translation.  He also uses the German name Backfischalter. He specializes in drawings of girls, usually age 7 through 16 years old.

In Japan there has long been an interest in glamor and erotica featuring young girls.  Photography, including nude photography, of young girls was popular in Japan in the last part of the 20th century.  The photography could not legally include any sexual activity, but still aroused some controversy, and when the internet made these Japanese nude photos available to people in other countries, pressure was put on Japan to outlaw nude photography of minors.  It was outlawed in 1999, but drawings and paintings remained legal.  There are many artists in Japan who draw young girls in manga (comics) and anime (animated cartoons), but no other is quite like Girls Residence.

Girls Residence does not illustrate manga stories.  His drawings usually show girls in ordinary situations; at school, celebrating holidays, playing sports, at the pool, etc.  What makes him unique is that his girls are given a name, age, height, and weight.  His drawings realistically portray how a girl of the designated age and measurements would actually appear.  For example, the first illustration is a New Year’s greeting posted on Girls Residence’s page at Fantia.  The girl is Kana Hasegawa, a fictional character created by Girls Residence.  Kana is 10 years old, 135.8 cm tall, and weighs  31.4 kg.  The height and weight are realistic for a normal 10-year old Japanese girl.  Her clothing and hairstyle are also realistic for what a Japanese girl might wear on New Year’s Day 2020.  Although this is from a Japanese site, the greeting is in English.

Girls Residence – Happy New Year 2020

Girls Residence usually draws Japanese girls, but he sometimes draws girls of other races.  The following illustration compares a typical 11-year-old Japanese girl and a 12-year-old American girl.

Girls Residence – Haruka-chan (11) and Dororu Lelou (12) who came from the United States of the 1950s-2017

Girls Residence publishes his art on the Japanese websites Fantia and Pixiv.  He also creates art books of his illustrations. The following three pictures are the front covers of some of his books.  The first is the cover of Tiddlywinks.  The girl is Yuka Fujino (11 years old, 142.7cm tall, weight 31.2kg).  The next cover, of Puberties, features the Tachibana sisters Ayano (10yo / 140cm / 31.4 kg), and Ayaka (13yo / 153cm / 44.7kg).  Kana Hasegawa, the same girl that gave the New Year’s greeting for 2020, is on the cover of Morphology.  Even though these girls have names, all of the characters drawn by Girls Residence are fictional.

Girls Residence – Tiddlywinks Cover (2017)

Girls Residence – Puberties Cover 2019

Girls Residence – Morphology Cover (2019)

Most of Girls Residence’s pictures are rendered in at least two versions; one clothed and one nude.  Often there are other versions as well, such as in underwear and with or without suntan.  Most of the nude versions are available only to those who subscribe to the Girls Residence fanclub at Fantia, or to those who purchase his books.  To be fair to the artist I have not included any of those pictures in this post, but the following two pictures with nude versions are available free on his Pixiv page.  In the first picture, News of C91,  Kana Hasegawa on the right tells you where and when to find the site at the Comic Convention where they are selling Girls Residence’s art book Chrysalis.  Yuka Fujino on the left says that she looks forward to seeing you there.  The caption on the bottom informs the reader that the girls will not really be at the convention.  The next two illustrations appear in the book Chrysalis as well as the Pixiv site.  These show, from left to right, a 6th grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade girl in swimsuits and nude.  The title, I’m Sorry, seems strange.  Also notice that unlike most of Girls Residence’s variations, the eyes are shifted between the clothed and nude versions of both illustrations.

Girls Residence – News of C91 (uniforms) (2016)

Girls Residence – News of C91 (nude) (2016)

Girls Residence – I’m Sorry (swimsuit) (2016)

Girls Residence – I’m Sorry (nude) (2016)

On Pixiv, both News of C91 and I’m Sorry are as shown here; they are not censored. However, the picture I’m Sorry is censored in the book Chrysalis.  The pubic areas of the girls are pixilated in the book.  Censorship seems to be applied inconsistently by Japanese illustrators, including Girls Residence.  The Pixiv site is hosted in Japan.  Search for nude illustrations on that site, and you will find that some artists censor their pictures while others do not.  As far as I can tell, it appears to be left up to the discretion of the individual artist.  Girls Residence does not censor his work on Pixiv or Fantia, but he does censor it in all of his books.  The books are published and sold in Japan, so why would they have different standards of censorship for books than websites that are hosted in Japan?

In addition to his own art books, Girls Residence collaborates with Yasuda Juku (also known as Yasuda Yasuhiro) in producing educational books.  Yasuda writes the text for these books, while Girls Residence illustrates them.  Girls Residence uses a clean, realistic style which is well suited for educational pictures.  All necessary detail is shown with no areas in shadow as may occur in a photograph.  On the other hand, the illustrations are not cluttered with unnecessary detail that could distract the viewer.  The next two pictures are the front and back covers of  Growth and Development in Japanese Girls, Trends and Perspectives.  The girls on the covers are Ayaka Tachibana and Kana Hasegawa.

Girls Residence – Growth and Development Front Cover (2017)

Girls Residence – Growth and Development Back Cover (2017)

This is a very interesting book.  It contains 27 pages, in addition to the covers.  Fourteen pages contain only text, or text with graphs.  Four pages have both text and illustrations.  There are nine pages of illustrations with only minimal or no text.  Therefore, the main part of the book is text, with some illustrations to support the wording.  The book includes copious references to serious scientific and medical works, most in Japanese but some in English.  Viewing the book in isolation, it would appear to be primarily educational, with some artistic illustrations added as “medical contrivances”.  However, the book is promoted and sold in venues with other works of manga and hentai.  I have not been able to find it sold by vendors of medical, scientific, or educational books.

It is hard to classify Growth and Development in Japanese Girls, Trends and Perspectives as art or educational.  It, and the other collaborations of Girls Residence and Yasuda Juku are both. Yasuda Juku makes the following description of Growth and Development in Japanese Girls, Trends and Perspectives on his Fantia page.  I have used translate Google to translate it from Japanese: “[It is a] super sex education art book & essay with pictures by Consideration about Elongation. Based on medical knowledge and physical data, what is the difference between third graders, fourth graders, fifth graders, and sixth graders? Junior high school students? Menarche? What about pubic hair? How tall are they? Bust? [This book will] answer questions visually, such as. Girl physique that I want to deliver to everyone who draws girls.”

The following are Girls Residence illustrations for books by Yasuda Juku.  The cover of Child Health and Physical Education features Lisa (10yo/144cm/36kg/B2/Ph2), Kana Hasegawa and Ayaka Tachibana.  Four girls on the cover of Child Sexual Education are Yurina Yamashina (14yo / 155.6cm / 48.1kg / B4 / Ph4), Mana Onodera (7yo / 118.6cm / 22.2kg / B1 / Ph1), Kana Hasegawa (10yo / 135.8cm / 31.4kg / B2 / Ph1), and Aoi Yoshikawa (16yo / 157.3cm / 51.6kg / B5 / Ph5).  The next illustration shows Kana Hasegawa and Rena Okazaki  (9yo/130cm/27.3kg/B1/Ph1) announcing a lecture by Yasuda Juku about his book Child Sexual Education.  Why are Kana and Rena wearing fox ears to announce a lecture?

Girls Residence – Child Health and Physical Education Cover (2018)

Girls Residence – Child Sexual Education (2017)

Girls Residence – Lecture Announcement (2017)

The next illustration is a sample page posted by the manga bookseller Toranoana from the book Sixth Grade Elementary School Picture Book by Yasuda Juku, illustrated by Girls Residence.  The girl is Nozomi Naruse (12yo / 144.9cm / 34.0kg / B2 / Ph1).  The text explains that she is often mistaken for a fifth grade student because she is smaller and less developed than most sixth graders.  The table at the bottom of the page gives her measurements.

Girls Residence – Fifth Grade Elementary School Record Sample Page (2019)

The final three pictures are  a few of Girls Residence works that I find particularly pleasing.  The first shows Haruka Inoue (11yo / 142.7cm / 34.8kg / B3 / Ph1) and Ayano Tachibana (10yo / 140cm / 31.4 kg) modeling their school uniforms.   The second shows Kana and Haruka ready for Halloween, and the last shows Girls Residence marching band with Rena Okazaki (9yo / 130cm / 27.3kg / B1 / Ph1) playing the fife, Kana Hasegawa (10yo / 135cm / 30.2kg / B2 / Ph1) as drum major, and Ayano Tachibana (10yo / 140cm / 31.4 kg / B2 / Ph1) on the drum.

Girls Residence – Classroom girls (2018)

Girls Residence – Girls Who Want Candy (2017)

Girls Residence – Extracurricular Activities Cover Drawing (2018)

Random Images: Contenido Magazine

Here is an interesting picture which appeared on the cover of the Mexican magazine Contenido (Contents) in January 1979. The photo was shot by Mexican photographer Miguel Angel Romero, of whom there is almost no information.

Miguel Angel Romero – Contenido Magazine (January 1979)

The purpose of the image was to introduce specifically the subject of sex education in contemporary Mexican schools. The photograph was taken in a domestic setting as evidenced by the closet behind the children. It seems the image was composed strategically as to not display the genitalia but, most remarkable, is the confident, care-free attitude of the children despite being naked. I am told that even at that time, this frank display of nudity in Mexico was quite unusual, even among widely-distributed sex-education texts. Today, just like in the US, cartoon portrayals of naked children are the norm in Mexico.

Random Images: K. Pedrós

Here’s an interesting example of killing two birds with one stone brought to my attention from one of our readers. It appears that in 1994, two publishing companies were publishing volumes that included pictorial information on sex education with text in Spanish. The funny thing is that photographs were used that clearly came from the same photo shoot.

The first image appeared in a sex-ed reference called Enciclopedia de la Sexualidad from the Spanish publishing house Editorial Oceano. It was published in four volumes and this picture is from the last volume.

K. Pedrós – From Enciclopedia de la Sexualidad(1994)

The second one is from a Colombian book published in 1994 as well. It is called Atlas de Sexualidad with text by Aurora Otero published by Progama Educativo Visual, S.L. The second book did not have specific credits for Pedrós but there can be no doubt about the source. Are they perhaps of his own kids? And how did the availability of these photos become known to these two publishing firms?

K. Pedrós – From Atlas de Sexualidad (1994)

Maiden Voyages: June 2017

After a brief time in exile, Pigtails in Paint is now operating normally with the correct domain names and backups.  Witch hunt is an apt way of describing the struggle that is taking place today, but I am particularly reminded of The Reformation.  The tenor of the angry comments about this site smacked of anti-elitism and using the arts as an excuse to do something sinister.  During The Reformation, many pundits had legitimate complaints about the corruption of the Catholic Church but, in the end, their actions and influence were used to wreak great destruction on fine religious art.  Luther and Erasmus were considered important leaders of this movement but were appalled at the wanton smashing of Madonna statues and destruction of Church property in the name of iconoclasm.  Luther even pled with local princes to put a stop to these demolition gangs but to no avail.  Although there is certainly corruption in the most powerful and established elite institutions, I feel it necessary to point out that truly talented people form natural aristocracies.  Unless they are made to have contempt for their society because of the bad treatment they suffered in their youth, they generally use their talent for the betterment of everyone.  Only those who act on their irrational fear of those with remarkable skill and knowledge tend to push society to its lowest functional state—what might reasonably be called a state of spiritual poverty.

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery: There is a Moldovan photographer Vladimir Timofeev who did a photo shoot imitating Hajime Sawatari’s Alice.  The simulation is remarkable even down to the expression on the girl’s face.  The blogger at Girls’ Portraiture recently featured this artist and included a number of other images from this series.

Walking a Fine Line: Christian has informed me that there is a censorship issue with Google+.  He tried to share Ilona Szwarc’s photograph Desiree, Brooklyn, NY  and it was immediately flagged as inappropriate followed by a message stating that it “may be in violation of our User Content and Conduct Policy”.  They added that “Content that depicts the exploitation or abuse of children, presents children in a sexual manner, or facilitates inappropriate contact with children is not permitted.”  After appealing the decision, a reviewer upheld the decision.  Therefore, Google+ believes that a photograph of a girl in a two-piece swimsuit and holding a doll is considered “child abuse”.  The irony is—and I have heard this complaint many times—there are many “hate” sites and profiles glorifying Nazism or promoting anti-Semitism that have not been removed, despite being reported. Christian adds that Facebook censored the Lehnert & Landrock photograph from Pip’s recent post ‘A Girl and Her Vessel’.

Interestingly, our service provider just did some research, asking a U.K. watchdog group to examine our site for any possible cases of abuse.  We got a clean bill of health on that point but were informed that they have no influence over what individual companies and organizations can censor.  These developments highlight the need for a knowledgeable organization that can make more clear and reasonable definitions that are legally-binding for law enforcement agencies and media service companies.

Little Belly Dancers: I have been informed that in The Ukraine, there are annual festivals where little girls perform this art.  Here are three fine examples on YouTube from the past few events: Anastasia Olkova (2014), Aleksandra Kutsyuk (2016) and Sofia Yavtushenko (2013).

Who’s Number One?  I recently watched Michael Moore’s film Where to Invade Next (2015).  The title is confusing at first until you understand the premise that Moore is traveling to other countries to steal their best ideas for use in the U.S.  Worth noting is his visit to a rural primary school in France.  The children are served what Americans would call gourmet food, served by chefs (no cafeteria lines), and they receive lessons on food etiquette during that time.  They were quite disgusted when Moore showed them pictures of school cafeteria food in the U.S.  Also, sex education is quite frank and without the kind scare tactics that are regular fare in the U.S.  The instructors there found it quite laughable when Moore suggested they should emphasize abstinence.

Crime Dramas: When I was little, I remember watching old television shows with my grandmother.  One show she loved was Quincy, M.E. starring Jack Klugman.  There was an episode that dealt with the topic of child prostitution.  It was interesting to see how the subject was handled in that show versus an episode of the more recent Numb3rs.  It got me to thinking that any long-running crime drama would deal with the subject sooner or later and it would be interesting to analyze changing perceptions over time and in different countries.  I am therefore requesting that any readers familiar with specific episodes that deal with this subject in a television series, please let me know.  The results of my research will be made into a future post.  Simply use the contact form to send me any leads.  -Ron

Playing Doctor: Herbert Rogge et al

A few years ago, I acquired this understated but frank sex education book published in Germany. I was told it was a cult classic in its time, but the dealer may have been buttering my bread to make a sale.

The book is called Tanja+Fabian (1974) and was published by Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn. With text written by Joachim Brauer and Gerhard Regel, it is a short picture book meant for children ages 4–8. It was groundbreaking, in a sense, because it reflected the emerging liberal attitudes of the time.

Tanja and Fabian are friends and share a lot of experiences together. In one of the first images, we see a gender role reversal. While Tanja plays with trains, Fabian is playing with dolls.

Herbert Rogge - Tanja+Fabian (1974) (1)

Herbert Rogge – Tanja+Fabian (1974) (1)

Tanja lives alone with her mother. The text explains that even though everyone has a mother and father, they don’t always live together. Tanja helps her mother with household chores and shopping so that they’ll have time for a little fun at the evening meal.

Herbert Rogge - Tanja+Fabian (1974) (2)

Herbert Rogge – Tanja+Fabian (1974) (2)

Before bath time, Tanja takes the time to examine her body and notes that she is different from her mother, most notably the lack of breasts and public hair. The book explains that when she grows up, she will look like her mom and will then be a woman.

Herbert Rogge - Tanja+Fabian (1974) (3)

Herbert Rogge – Tanja+Fabian (1974) (3)

A similar anatomical comparison is made between Fabian and his father and all relevant organs are named and described. Fabian has a baby brother named Torsten. When Fabian’s mother was pregnant, Tanja came to visit and investigate. It is also explained that men do not become pregnant or give birth.

Herbert Rogge - Tanja+Fabian (1974) (4)

Herbert Rogge – Tanja+Fabian (1974) (4)

The book is quite explicit, showing a picture of the fetus and even a picture of the birth. The pain of childbirth is also mentioned and that the father is allowed to be nearby. Nursing is shown and discussed as well as Fabian’s jealousy that he does not have his parents to himself anymore. There is even a frank explanation of the parents making love, how the penis gets erect and the use of birth control.

Tanja and Fabian play in the garden, but because it is hot that day, they take off their clothes and splash each other with water.

Herbert Rogge - Tanja+Fabian (1974) (5)

Herbert Rogge – Tanja+Fabian (1974) (5)

As you can imagine, I got a real kick out of this one. The children decide to play doctor so that the entire body can be seen and examined. Again, the traditional gender roles are reversed, with Fabian on the table and the girls as doctors.

Herbert Rogge - Tanja+Fabian (1974) (6)

Herbert Rogge – Tanja+Fabian (1974) (6)

Tanja and Fabian like each other very much and want to marry each other some day—but not until they are grown up.

Herbert Rogge - Tanja+Fabian (1974) (7)

Herbert Rogge – Tanja+Fabian (1974) (7)

The notion of playing doctor is sometimes a topic of amusement, but there is ample evidence that boys and girls, generation after generation, reinvent this game. It is also fodder for bawdy jokes as when Hawkeye Pierce played by Alan Alda (M*A*S*H, Chief Surgeon Who?,1972) remarks that he wanted to be a doctor as far back as he could remember: “Just ask any little girl I grew up with!”

Comparative Anatomy: Will McBride and Helga Fleischhauer-Hardt

Since Pigtails in Paint is an important venue for the healthy expression of child nudity, it makes sense that we should deal with the subject of sex education. This can take serious forms as in proper (and perhaps institutionalized) sex education or in a more humorous form as children explore changes and differences in sexuality in their culture. I thought it appropriate that this work should be a launching point for this topic—in this case a serious example but not oppressively so. In many sexually-repressed societies (and we have to count the modern West among them), any begrudging acknowledgement of the need to educate young people typically takes the form of dull and clinical coverage or is authoritative and fear-based and, in both cases, offers a cartoonish approach to the facts of gross surface anatomy. The legitimacy of a serious approach, though, should not exclude more humorous and light-hearted portrayals. As creatures born with instinctive sexual proclivities that develop over time and rational minds trying desperately to cope with this reality, there is plenty of fodder for humor that does not necessarily imply shame. There is an inherent awkwardness when children compare the superficial differences between boys and girls or between children and adults or watching inexperienced lovers fumble around as they figure things out. In a healthy context, these can be a source of gentle amusement for those more experienced. Therefore, readers will begin to see examples of “comparative anatomy” appear on this site.

In the West, the Sexual Revolution went hand in hand with an acceptance of nudity and it makes sense that probably the most definitive text on sex education for children should appear during this time. Will McBride courageously and sensitively provided the photographs that appeared in that book, Show Me! (German: Zeig Mal!) published in 1975. The book was a collaboration between McBride and Helga Fleischhauer-Hardt, a psychiatrist, who provided an essential context for how the book should be used. The English adaptation is by Hilary Davies.

The temptation, since we are such visual creatures, is to skim through the images and get an impression from that, but the introduction provides an important framing for the unconventional approach this book takes.

“We have made this book for children and parents. In their hands, it can be an aid to sexual enlightenment. But above all, we hope it will show parents that natural sexuality develops only when children are surrounded from birth onwards by a loving family and environment which does not repress sexuality. We don’t believe a child will have “found the answer” to sex simply by looking at the pictures in this book. A good understanding requires rather a continuing exchange between parent and child, a dialog which helps the child express his questions and problems concerning sex and resolve them. The photographic part of this book is meant as a taking-off point for parents…We hope this book will serve parents and children as a source of information and guide them toward a happy sexuality marked by love, tenderness, and responsibility.”

Will McBride - from Show Me! (1973) (1)

Will McBride – from Show Me! (1973) (1)

Will McBride - from Show Me! (1973) (2)

Will McBride – from Show Me! (1973) (2)

Traditional sex education can be clinical and dry and so Fleischhauer-Hardt urges the target reader (the parents) to use simple words in the descriptions of conception, pregnancy and anatomical facts and some suggestions are offered at the end of the book. The philosophy behind producing this book is that only an explicit and realistic presentation of sex can spare children fear and guilt related to sexuality which is why photography was chosen as the visual medium. It was also hoped that the children’s reactions to the material would be spontaneous and would give the readers a realistic idea of how their own children might react. The most obvious obstacle to this is the peculiarities of culture and I did notice the book expresses an almost blind acceptance of the validity of Freudian theory. The explanatory text offers further clues to how young children might perceive this book.

“Children who have grown up in a free and unconstrained atmosphere react positively to the photographs. They show interest and ask questions. Even children of preschool age react in this way. A child only accepts what he or she can comprehend, in any case, and this depends on the stage of development. In no way can looking at the pictures damage a child, even if he or she does not yet understand them. Children see many other things in their surroundings which they cannot understand.”

Will McBride - from Show Me! (1973) (3)

Will McBride – from Show Me! (1973) (3)

It should be understood that this book is to be used for very young children, not children already dealing with the arena of adult sexuality. The irony is that many young children using this book will have more experience with the facts of anatomy than teenagers whose parents felt it necessary to shelter them. Fleischhauer-Hardt makes the point many times that a child’s response to the book is a function of the parents’ attitudes. If a child has a healthy attitude about the human body, he will not find the pictures too strong for him; but an inhibited child may at first react with hostility. In this case, the concern is to not to introduce any new repressions but to encourage the child to express his feeling and work through them. It is best to go through the book gradually to allow the child the assimilate the images and gain confidence in the material. Sexuality is not an all-or-nothing proposition. As we develop, various aspects of our own sexuality come into play. Even a fetus in the womb is not a completely asexual being and I was pleased to see the suggestion that, “Sex education, like all education, should begin in infancy, within the family.” and be an ongoing endeavor throughout development.

I think Fleischhauer-Hardt is being somewhat diplomatic when she says that sex instruction given in many schools in extremely valuable, but she is right in pointing out that its effectiveness is overestimated. Her argument is that many children, by school age, are already encumbered with prejudices and misconceptions as a result of a repressive attitude to sex in their home and environment. Contemptuous expressions used by a six-year-old boy about the opposite sex can only have come from the adults in his life and then get reinforced by peer groups later on. A child who has never been allowed to see his parents and siblings naked will almost certainly find nudity shocking. And as far as concerns over hygiene, a child need not be instilled with the idea that bodily excretions are dirty or repulsive; psychiatrists believe a child will learn clean and hygienic habits by example without their excretory functions becoming taboo. She proposes a nurturant attitude from birth and one of the implied goals is that children will grow up able to enjoy sex more fully, a purpose indicative of the notions of the Sexual Revolution. For some reason, we all have largely forgotten a lot about our sexual experiences growing up and so the book was meant to help parents be well-informed about the sexual development of their own children which is not always intuitive.

The book has stirred controversy not merely because of its frank photographic illustrations, but in its attitudes regarding a proper sex education. In that respect, I think some of the hostile reaction has been due to an innate fear that this might be regarded as a kind of standard and Fleischhauer-Hardt seems to recognize, despite her own expert opinion, that this book may not be for everyone, but for those ready to take on the challenge of learning a better way.

“This book is aimed at open-minded people who are prepared to rethink and perhaps even question their own attitude to human sexuality. The book came about as a result of my experience that many parents are not sufficiently informed about sexual matters to understand the sexual development of their children correctly. In many cases, they are not even thoroughly informed or aware of their own sexuality, because everything to do with sex was suppressed in their own upbringing.”

It was hoped this book would do justice to the sexual needs of children and adolescents. Will McBride’s photos were meant to portray sexual behavior appropriate to each level of development from birth to adulthood. There is an obvious bias here, because the idea was to show most of the “usual forms of sexual activity”. But if, as experts say, a large portion of the population is sexually repressed, how much evidence is there for the normal range of healthy sexual expression in which to base this book? Nevertheless, children and adolescents may at least get some graphic introduction to the sights and activities they may see and practice in later life.

In addition to the introduction and explanatory text, the body of the book centers on the dialog between a little boy and a little girl with interjections from family members. As explained before, the idea was to capture the spontaneous responses of these children, but I have to wonder how much of this was natural and how much was primed by their particular upbringing. Arguments about Freudian theory aside, the book does boldly discuss basic terms like: belly button, penis, vagina (and the fact that it is an interior organ), pregnancy, breasts, nursing, circumcision, pee, poop, vulva, labia, clitoris, masturbation, erection, pubic hair, orgasm (male and female), semen and making love including the conventional adult use of the penis and vagina. On the psychological side, it deals with issues of: jealousy over a new baby, thumb sucking, the pleasures of masturbation, breast variation among girls, physical development of adult characteristics, the awkwardness of lovemaking and the odd rituals associated with it, anxieties of giving birth, the shock a baby experiences entering the world and gender roles and identity (including the Oedipus Complex). To the book’s credit, the children did not just go with the flow and sometimes declared how silly or tiresome it was to look at all these naked people and shock at how heterosexual intercourse is conducted!

Will McBride - from Show Me! (1973) (4)

Will McBride – from Show Me! (1973) (4)

Will McBride was born in St.Louis, Missouri in 1931. It had not occurred to me until now how apt the English title to the book was as Missouri is known as the “Show Me State”! His parents and teachers noticed at a very early age that he was talented at drawing. He was 11 years old when he began Saturday morning classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. He made life drawings from nude models and collected and studied anatomy books. When his family moved to Detroit, he attended the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, made detailed charcoal drawings of nude models and already knew he would be an artist at age 14. He graduated from high school in 1947 then studied at the University of Vermont when he had the opportunity to meet Norman Rockwell. After Rockwell looked at his male nude studies, he knew McBride was a real artist and was invited to learn painting and illustration under his tutelage in the summer of 1950. Rockwell remained his most important influence the rest of his life. He continued his studies at various institutions until 1953, when he joined the U.S. Army. That was when he got his first taste of Germany and after completing two years of service, he continued his studies in Berlin—taking an interest in photojournalism. He was married in 1959 and had three sons. He lived all over Germany, putting together photo essays for various publications and teaching photojournalism. He had his first one man show in 1972 in Munich and moved to Italy for a time to resume his efforts in sculpting and painting. In 1983, he returned to Germany—exhibiting his work in various media. In 1995, he began his “NO WAR!” monument—an enormous installation of sculptures and paintings. He had shows in Frankfurt and Camaiore (in Tuscany), but this is an ongoing work in progress to this day.

Will McBride - Tom Boy Girl with Apple, Munich (1966)

Will McBride – Tom Boy Girl with Apple, Munich (1966)

His philosophy illustrates the sensitivity and purposefulness of his work and even in the seemingly documentary medium of photography, his work has a strong feeling of conscious deliberation.

“A Photographer has only one thing to give to his photography. His whole being. The photographs should be the result of this involvement with the life around him…A photographer, in order to give his utmost , must be able to recognize his own being by the study of it, making constant note of the growth or regression of his being…The responsibility to the public should be even greater than the means of conveying the photograph to the public…For me, the true meaning of photography or the fundamental endeavor of the photographer is to notice, measure, relate the visual evidence of the changes of the development or the destruction (whichever you prefer) of the life and society going on…and as such is autobiographical.”

When the public hype over Show Me! began, it was not the first time McBride had sparked controversy. In 1960, Twen magazine provoked a scandal when they published portraits of his pregnant wife Barbara. Nor was Show Me! the first time he photographed nude children. He was invited to provide photographic examples to illustrate a book called The Sex Book: A Modern Pictorial Encyclopedia published by Herder and Herder, Inc. in 1971 with text by Martin Goldstein MD and Erwin J. Haeberle PhD.

Will McBride - from The Sex Book (1971)

Will McBride – from The Sex Book (1971)

While many parents appreciated Show Me! for its frank depiction of pre-adolescents discovering and exploring their sexuality, the knee-jerk response of others was heated. In 1975 and 1976, charges were brought against the publisher (St. Martin’s Press) by prosecutors in several states. Legally speaking, the book could not be banned for pornographic content but charges were leveled over the issue of obscenity and applicable laws. Starting in 1977, some states began to criminalize the distribution of even non-obscene material arguing that such “images of abuse” were not protected by the First Amendment. Despite the passing of a law in the publisher’s home state of New York, an injunction against the State was successful because the courts believed the First Amendment could only apply to obscene material. The 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision, New York v. Ferber, allowed the government to constitutionally ban the knowing distribution of even non-obscene “child pornography”. St. Martin’s Press rightly argued that even though Show Me! was demonstrably not pornographic, they could not afford the legal expense to defend it, their own personnel or vendors who distributed the book and so no further editions were produced.

During the media debate, the 13-year-old daughter of a Chicago Tribune reviewer Carol Kleiman commented, “…The book is good for little kids because they don’t know what society terms ‘dirty’ yet. You know, Mom, it’s parents I’m worried about. They’re not ready yet.”  It would be fascinating to learn what the children who participated in this book think today.

I was surprised to find there was an attempt to make a documentary about the history and controversy over the book. It has been five years since this trailer was posted and it is clear that production was canceled without a trace. Even this video gives you an idea of the range of reactions over the book even today.

I want to thank one of our readers, Michael, for painstakingly transcribing his copy of the book and carefully selecting those images that would illustrate its contents without exposing Pigtails in Paint to legal complications. I did get a pretty thorough description of the images that were included though. Naturally, as a sex education book, more detailed images of genitalia were present but even though they are appropriate in this context, it is not the purview of this site to show them to the general public. I will deal with this issue in more detail later in an essay about the intricacies of public and private displays of intimate subjects.  Exact transcriptions of key parts of the book can be found here.