parenting advice

My Naked Body Isn’t Perfect, Which Is Why I Won’t Hide It From My Kids

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To be naked, or not to be naked: that is the question. When do I start locking the door when I’m getting changed? Or do I even have to? Is it up to my child or is it up to me to decide when nudity in our home is private? Well, that is all up to the individual family, of course, but one thing I would not do is let my kid make a rude remark about my body, and instead of challenging it, start hiding my body from them in shame.

That is what one mother’s reaction was after her ten-year-old daughter walked in on her while she was taking a bath, looked at her mother’s body, and called her “floppy.” The mother, Angela Epstein, started out with laudable motivations — she was nude around her daughter for years, wanting her to accept different kinds of bodies and see that her mommy wasn’t ashamed of hers. That was all well and good until her daughter got old enough to start forming opinions about bodies, and once she did, Epstein decided her daughter was right in her judgments and has stopped being nude around her. She even wrote an article titled, “Why Wobbly Middle-Aged Mums Should Never Let Their Daughters See Them Naked.”

That devastates me.

I am naked around my kids all the time. Well, I mean, not when I’m baking chicken or anything, but when I am changing or taking a shower I am. I grew up with horrible body issues, partly brought on by my mother’s judgments about my appearance. When I learned I was going to have a daughter, I swore that I was going to do things differently for her. So we never talk about appearance in my house, not ours or anybody else’s. I tell my kids that everybody’s body is different, and that’s just fine. I have never, ever appraised my body in front of my children, whether for good or for bad. And when I’m naked, I’m naked.

Deal with it.

One day, my daughter will make some kind of an assessment of my body. And when she does, we will have a conversation about it. As a plus-sized gal, I am given all too many reasons in this life why I should hate my body and want to hide it away. I refuse to let my daughter agree with those opinions unchallenged. I will not look down at myself and say to her, “You know what? You’re right. This shit is terrible.” No. This is my body. It is what it is. And it doesn’t look like her body or anybody else’s body because it’s mine. And no ten-year-old — especially not my ten-year-old — will make me feel ashamed of myself. Floppy? Yeah, I guess there are parts of me that are floppy. So what?

Bodies are a big deal, especially when you’re the mother of a daughter. Let’s teach our daughters to love themselves and love others just the way they are. Let’s teach kindness and acceptance. And then later, let’s go fart on their pillows. They deserve at least that much.

(photo: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock)