There are many recognized dates on the calendar and there’s even a Nude Day. It’s today, actually. I never thought I’d be writing about Nude Day. But as a mom of two sons, conversations do sometimes revolve around us being nude or naked (they are different; “nude” implies unclothed, “naked” implies exposed and vulnerable). It seems like the kind of thing it would be easy to avoid, but avoiding it would make it seem like it should be avoided. So I’m encouraging myself to write about it in the hopes that it might encourage you to talk about it!
I don’t plan to get too specific or personal because Lord knows I don’t need everyone poking into my personal business. And there is so much sensitivity – for good reason – about nudity that I am going to keep it general.
I have a lot of different kinds of friends from a lot of different backgrounds. I have friends who were raised very religious and friends who are totally secular. I have friends who are socially conservative and friends who are super duper liberal. I have friends who have no problem going to strip clubs with boyfriends and friends who would never set foot in any sort of facility. I have friends who hate seeing unnecessary nudity in movies and on TV (i.e. on every single cable show there is pretty much!), and I have friends who have no problem with unnecessary nudity and think it’s awesome because they want to see as many naked/nude people in their lives as possible. (And, of course, I have many friends who fall in the middle: who may or may not think nudity in TV and movies is necessary, and who don’t seek out entertainment because of the nudity, but accept it as a part of today’s entertainment scene.)
As my friends and I became parents over the past decade or so, we have had to decide how we feel about all sorts of issues as parents. We’ve had to decide if we wanted to breastfeed or not, what kinds of diapers to use, what kind of food to feed our children, and what kinds of toys we wanted in our homes (I never allowed battery-operated toys in my house for the first years of my kids’ lives and I was happy with the quiet that decision brought forth!).
And as our kids have grown, we’ve had to decide how we feel about and deal with nudity. Should we be naked in front of them? What if we have children of the opposite sex as us; does that make a difference? (Meaning, can only moms be naked in front of girls and only dads be naked in front of boys past a certain age?) Should we let our kids be naked as much as they want? Is there an age where they shouldn’t be naked in front of other kids anymore? Does their sex versus the sex of the other kids matter?
Ask any 100 people how they feel about nudity around their kids and you’ll get somewhere close to 100 different opinions.
Some people believe in making nudity totally not a big deal and demystifying the notion of nudity or nakedness as ‘bad’ or inappropriate.
Some people think the only way to teach children to be modest is to teach them early on that there are “private parts” and that those parts need always be covered. Modeling that by not letting them see those parts of you is likely consistent with that message.
Some people think kids should be able to see you without clothes on when you are in the process of getting dressed, but not at any other time.
Here’s my thing: I don’t want my kids to grow up afraid of their bodies. I don’t want them to think of their body as something that is shameful or needs unnecessary protecting. The notion of “private parts” introduces an implication of secrecy surrounding bodies that I fear may not be entirely healthy in a liberal secular world.
Being naked – or nude I suppose – is freeing and awesome. Your body’s natural state is without clothing! And while I don’t understand the notion of people who live in nudist colonies – to me it would always feel sexual; I just can’t imagine it not being so! – I respect and understand the appeal of returning your body to its nude natural liberated state. If you’ve ever seen a two- or three-year-old run around naked while screaming joyfully (this used to happen in my house a lot when my boys were that age), you can see the beauty of not having clothes on and just loving life.
I talk to my boys a lot about their bodies being theirs and theirs alone. It’s also important to talk about our family’s notions of nudity while acknowledging that not everyone does what we do and that that’s okay too.
As for me, I plan to spend most of this Nude Day in clothing but some of it not in clothing. I’ll keep private what I do with the nude part of the day, but suffice it to say: it will be liberating and awesome.
Grok With Us:
- Did you grow up in a house where your parents allowed you to see them naked? How do you think that impacted your views on nudity?
- Would you or do you let your kids see you naked? In what context?
- How do you distinguish between nakedness and nudity in your own life?
- What are the things we can do to both make young people feel comfortable in their nude skin while also teaching them to respect the sacredness of their bodies?