Bare It All…


    Today I read an article that really caused me to reflect on my own individual parenting practices when it comes to teaching my children about positive self image and about the beauty of the human body. The article was written by a mother who was sharing her experiences and beliefs with regards to exposing children to nudity. Now, before you start rebuking this post and summoning the Holy Spirit, please note that the purpose of this post is to reflect upon and address this issue from a purely parental point of view so any notions that you might have about propriety or lack thereof can be checked at the door with your coat.

    Let me begin by saying that I have always felt that it was important to teach children early on that nudity is nothing to be ashamed of and that they should love their bodies.  Although I have never gone out of my way to parade in front of my kids naked, it is inevitable that they sometimes walk in on me when I am coming out of the shower, when I am using the bathroom, or when I am getting dressed in my room.  Those of you who are mothers know exactly what I am talking about…

    Obviously, this will not always be okay because, someday, my boys will be young men and I’m sure they will not want to haunted or traumatized by images of their naked mother.  Right now, though, they are still little boys and I have not run into any problems as of yet.  I’m sure that it will become apparent when it is not okay to be so carefree with my attire in the future.  Even then, however, I will see nothing wrong with running across the house in my underwear if I need to because it is my house and I don’t want my children to have hang-ups about body image or to have an excessive amount of modesty.

    Throughout my life, I saw both of my parents at various stages of undress for a variety of reasons.  In retrospect, most of these times I saw them because we kids barged into their bedroom while they were dressing or into the bathroom while they were in it.  This is probably the case in most homes where families are close and inadvertently invade each other’s private spaces.  I suspect that these experiences helped to shape my ideas about self image, confidence, and self-esteem.  Early on, I realized that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful.

    My husband also grew up with a single mother who was also pretty open in this regard.  As a matter of fact, I still recall going to her house while my husband and I were dating and seeing her standing at the stove cooking in a bra and slip after just having come home from church.  It didn’t really shock me too much because I was raised in a house where everyone pretty much walked around in their underwear some of the time.  I’m just not uncomfortable with nudity or other stages of undress, it doesn’t really faze me at all.

    Right now, I would say that I am definitely raising my boys to love their bodies and to have an appreciation for the human body.  I want them to enjoy life and not to have inhibitions about nudity due to society’s insecurities.  This being said, I am also teaching them about having modesty and about not exposing their bodies to others who might have impure intentions.  Additionally, my boys are well versed on the parts of their bodies that are “private” and not for others to touch or invade.  It is important that there is some balance and that we are realistic about the fact that there are sexual predators and pedophiles that exist to harm our children.

    All of that being said, I am extremely interested to hear your thoughts on this topic.  How do you address this issue in your home?  Is nudity something that is taboo or common place in your house and what has fueled your decisions with regards to this topic? 

© 2011, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.


  1. Great points! We should teach kids when/where nudity is inappropriate and about what is inappropriate attention from an adult. But it’s just as important not to give them hang-ups about what is a very natural thing. Our bodies are wonderful and shouldn’t be a source of shame or secrecy. They aren’t “bad”. The sooner kids know this, the healthier their outlook is. And raising kids with a healthy sense of self is the best way to help them to be in control of their own bodies and not let others misuse it.

    • Thank you, Chela. That is exactly how I feel! I want my boys to be comfortable in their own bodies and not to every be ashamed of the human body. You are right, this is empowering them to not let others invade their personal spaces.

  2. Hi Maria! Great post! I would say that while I teach acceptance and inner beauty I don’t always practice it with my own self-image. 🙁

    As far as nudity, only my 7 yo walks around in his underwear. I am pretty conservative when it comes to that around the teens especially and I don’t really see that changing.

    Hope you are well.

    • Jill, thanks for sharing your parenting preferences with regards to this topic. I think that everyone should practice what works well for their family dynamic. You should definitely practice it with your own self-image because you are a beautiful person inside and out.

  3. I think 1/2 way is perfect. Although I’m pretty out-going with other aspects of my sexuality, I want to shelter my babies, even for just a little bit. Just recently my one son (two) is starting to look at my breasts with a WTF face. but still no pointing or questions, so I’ll just leave it and see where it goes.

    I let both boys come in to the bathroom with me when I’m on the toilet, sometimes naked, sometimes not, much to my husband’s disgust… but it’s not just about openness, but also showing them that it’s natural to go on the toilet… the sooner they are comfortable and want to start potty training, the frickin’ better!!

    • Yes, it seems that the important thing is to never make a big issue about it and to somewhat in the middle of the whole issue. I like that you said that it’s important for our children to see this as something natural and not to think it is something secretive or taboo. The potty training issue is a different one altogether but, I totally agree with you, the faster they potty train the better. Thank goodness I am out of that pamper stage!

  4. I grew up with an artist, so the human body and nudity were no big deal (though I did ask my mum as a kid how my father could pee through his hands and I couldn’t). We had a marble torso my mum sculpted (named Louise) in our living room for years. I know I went to figure drawing classes with my mum when I was 8 or 9.

    We are pretty casual here, as well, though we wear lounge clothes A LOT more now than we did when we rented and heat was included. I want Piggles to grow up with the idea that nudity is normal and the human body is living art, much like I was raised. To be fair, I do draw the line at Playboys in the bathroom, even if I used the vintage one for figure drawing.

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