I’m a rather quiet person. I’m more comfortable behind my computer talking to people than being out front. I’ve always been that way and although I’m making efforts to step away from the machine, to meet people in the real world, I’ll never really be that comfortable putting myself out there.
It’s the same thing about my body. I feel completely comfortable in my skin, as long as it’s covered up. I know I have nothing to be ashamed about but secretly I think all those images of ‘the ideal woman’ float around in the back of my head. You know the ones: flawless, perfectly smooth skin; no puckering or extra bulges; everything curving out or in where they’re suppose to. I just don’t feel comfortable getting naked and hanging around sans clothing.
My kids are a completely different story. The only reason they wear clothes is because they need to go out in public. They would prefer to hang out naked. Sometimes it’s hard to keep clothes on them at home. I’m forever finding socks and pants and undershirts lying around the house. I think that’s great. Not the picking up laundry part but that they’re comfortable with themselves.
I know what you’re thinking; all young kids feel that way. All kids go through that stage of taking their clothes off but like all childhood stages, this will pass. And yes, that’s part of it but I think our attitudes to nudity affect our kids perception and behaviour as they get older.
The other night, as I was putting my son’s laundry away, he was getting ready for bed, doing his naked dance and enjoying that stage between getting out of day clothes and into night-clothes (though I should point out, his night-clothes usually don’t last that long on him most nights). While he was getting ready for bed I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. I know one day he and all my kids won’t feel so free about their clothing optional status. I’ve already noticed this with oldest daughter, especially in public places like swimming pool change rooms.
I can’t help but think my personal attitude about getting naked and my own self-esteem issues are starting to affect my kids. I’ve always thought that my naked issue was just that, my issue, but when you’re living in a family nothing is every just your issue. Just like kids learn and see how you handle stress and sadness and anger, they also pick-up on other messages, no matter how subtle you may think they are. Dr. Trina shared a great piece on women and their attitudes about body image and getting naked.
As my kids get older, they will probably spend less time hanging out naked. That could be construed as a sign they’re growing up; however, I think it’s partly to do with what we impose on them as being the norm. I don’t want to be responsible for changing the way they view themselves because of my own insecurities. I worry that my daughter’s new shy stage may be from witnessing my own behaviour and that bothers me. I’m trying now to be conscious of how I behave when it comes to my own body. I’m trying to bite my tongue at the kids desire to strip off as soon as they get home. I may not be running around the upstairs hall naked, but hopefully allowing my kids that freedom will show them that they should be proud of who they are and all their bits. Hopefully it will be a lesson they will carry forward into their adult life and pass down to their own kids.
And who knows, maybe along the way I’ll discover my inner child, free of inhibitions (and clothing) … probably not.