Want to raise body positive kids? Let them see you naked
I grew up in a ‘naked house’. My parents weren’t naturists, far from it. But they were relaxed enough to appear in the corridor completely starkers on their way to the bathroom. Dressing gowns were optional. The sight of my mother’s boobs familiar. Nudity wasn’t a big deal.
I’d like to think that I am just as relaxed with nudity in my own home. My children often see me naked – whether it be the early morning dash to the loo, or (more frequently) because they’ve wandered into the bathroom while I shower. Nudity isn’t a big deal in our house either.
Like most parents, my aim is to bring up children who have healthy and positive attitudes to their bodies. I believe that by showing them I’m comfortable with my body I can role model the attitude I’d like them to emulate.
A recent report from British Naturism backs this belief. In ‘Children deserve better’ researchers argue that “wholesome body attitudes” lead to fewer body image disorders and more sensible attitudes to life.
“This should be done ideally by bringing up children in a naturist environment where body honesty is key,” the report says.
Our Talk up Tuesday question is a day late this week. SImply because we were trying to find questions with a positive outlook. But today it seems to be a challenge. So here goes.
Recently on several social media platforms I have come across “naturist” accounts that regularly post images of naked families including children with the expressed purpose of promoting “family” naturism. There is nothing sexual in nature about these images usually the are scenes of beeach activities. The British documentary Naked Parents looks and families where at least the adults and often the children live clothes free to some degree. The video did a really good job of promoting clothes free living and included children talking on camera, none of them clothes free. So the question “Is posting clothes free images of children online necessary to promote family naturism?”
Editor’s note: A thought-provoking opinion piece by Genesia Alves on various attitudes about nudity, male and female nudity, and public vs. private. It was interesting to see that the author didn’t make nudity the item in question when it came to public vs. private. Rather, the critical question was really about whether to open vulnerable moments to scrutiny from absolute strangers online. She also raises a probing question about consent of children when it comes to being exposed to such feedback.
A picture by Heather Whitten of her husband holding her fevered son close, under a shower was taken down by Facebook for being inappropriate, specifically with regards to nudity. Both the photograph and the censorship raked up a predictable furore. Facebook has often been accused of policing women’s bodies, specifically breasts, while ignoring more serious issues like threats of violence against women and hate speech.
But how we react to nudity, both public and private, is a combination of personal upbringing and the milieu. Traditionally, Indians really shouldn’t be bothered by nudity at all. Our tribals and ascetics are often unclothed. Only two months ago, at 8am on busy Linking Road in Mumbai, I saw two Jain men walk buck naked across the street surrounded by a small posse of chanting devotees. But in Facebook-speak, it’s complicated because for women, it is all about location. While the Slut March and the bikini are touted as signs of liberation in some big cities (okay, maybe two) in the less civilised parts of our country, nakedness is used as a tool to shame, to disempower, to punish women.
Mummy-blogger urges other mothers to get naked around their children to teach them about real bodies
Constance Hall – a parent and blogger who recently made a name for herself after her brutally honest post about ‘parent sex‘ went viral – has today started another important conversation on her Facebook page..
The blogger, who has an online following of over 491,000, shared a nude image of herself and her son, with an important message in which she urged other mothers to be more open with their bodies around their children.
She wrote: ‘I advocate nakedness around your children, homes and husbands. I don’t want my boys’ expectations of women to resemble those that they see in magazines or TV nor do I want my girls’ expectations of themselves to.’
I advocate nakedness around your children, homes and husbands.
I don’t want my boys expectations of women to resemble those that they see in magazines or TV nor do I want my girls expectations of themselves to.
I believe that with the help of Queens loving themselves the next generations definition of beauty will be radically different and no longer will we idolise the unrealistic airbrushed idea of perfection that causes so much self doubt and depression.
The truth is, growing up, I did not always respect my mother’s openness with her body, the way she kept the door open when she changed or went to the bathroom. I certainly did not approve when I noticed that she was bra-less under a T-shirt. Maybe the hateful derision crept in when I was a teenager, suddenly and keenly aware of my burgeoning sexuality. I didn’t see her openness within the context of community, or say, in the function of nursing a baby, or soaking in the waters of a centuries-old bath house. It is really only since being in Asia, and certainly since becoming a mother myself, that I have cleaned house in terms of my old beliefs about the body.
Living in Tokyo, my husband and I take our kids to the public baths sometimes but, more importantly, we have adopted its lifestyle at home. My daughter is five and a half and my son is almost three years old. It began when my girl was just an infant—after a baby’s first month, doctors and midwives encourage parents to bring her into their own bath. And this is what we did. We bathed with her, the special Japanese way, supporting her small neck, while gently folding her ears back to not let in any water. The other hand used a feathery cotton gauze to clean eyes, scalp, and all of those fatty baby folds in her impossibly soft skin. Both of my children learned to be comfortable in deep bathtubs very early on, also learning buoyancy and the weightlessness of trust. We never really used our baby tub.
I spent some time stalling at my rest point, checking and rechecking that I had everything in order, when in reality the car was fully packed and ready to go. There was nothing left to pick up, nothing left to do but drive over to Empire Haven Nudist Park. This is where I would meet people, this is where I would take part in some of the 2015 Northeast Naturist Festival activities and have my first ever camping experience (and what a way to do it: clothes free!). Read more clothes free vacation, pt. 3: arriving
Why I let my daughters see me (and my family and friends) stark naked: Bonkers? No, Jess says it’s the best way to stop them growing up hating their own bodies
English reserve, coupled with sensible caution over how these things would sound to others – blurted out in the classroom, for instance – would make most mothers mount those stairs in a flash to intervene.
But not me. I stood back and congratulated myself on a job well done. Seeing how comfortable my daughters, five-year-old Matilda and three-year old Bibi, are with nudity in all its forms – male, female, old, young, fat, thin, in-family and out – makes me proud. I see it as part of my crusade to beat the body issues blighting our children’s childhood.
My #WorldNaturismDay began with late night / early morning chats with my mom (yes, she is in town and yes I’m ridiculously ecstatic about it). I was clothes free in her presence and both of us were naked in heart.
For the last few years I’ve been indulging in nudist behavior. With my kids. In public. And it’s been wonderful. It began four years ago, when my 6-year-old daughter and I were invited to an unusual birthday party at a castle-like Korean spa. Our hostess gave me a heads-up that the first portion of the day would require some nudity, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when, after we checked in, we were directed to an enormous room with separate lockers for our shoes and clothes. It was challenging to disrobe without feeling utterly exposed, but I didn’t want to show my daughter I was fazed by it, so I stripped off and closed the locker door on my clothes. Our children make us so much braver.
Yet as I’ve returned to this spa, and as my daughters grow ever-closer to puberty, my enjoyment of the naked room is less about the frisson of public nudity, and more about the experience I’m providing for them. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I’m stunned — really, genuinely stunned — by the vast variety of women’s bodies I see there. There are women of all, and I really do mean all, sizes and shapes. The sheer range of shapes we come in is literally marvelous. I’m also surprised how much is revealed when clothes are stripped away: it’s far more intimate than the beach, where even tiny swimsuits disguise and guide the flesh in various aesthetic directions. Also, the requirement that we all be naked removes much of the judgment that accompanies beachside people-watching.