Daughter Freaks Out Over School Nudity

This is not my article but I believe it is worth a re-post.

I found it posted on several sites but I am not sure which is the original (for credit) so I will refrain from speculating.

 

By Ben Miller

 

My 12-year old daughter came home from school the other today and was clearly upset. She couldn’t wait to talk to me about something. Sensing her anxiety, I casually asked, “What’s up?”

 

She said, “Somebody at school today said that when I go to Junior High next year, I’ll have to change my clothes, shower, and be naked in front of my friends. Is that true?”

 

I raised at least one eyebrow and said, “I don’t know. It used to be true,” in a slightly disappointed tone of voice.

 

My daughter continued, “Well, I won’t do it!”

 

“Why not?” I calmly asked.

 

“Because, unlike you, I don’t like people seeing me naked!”

 

I thought to myself, Hmmm, she’s noticed. I replied simply, “Why not?”

 

She said, “Because they’ll make fun of me!”

 

“Why would they make fun of you and why would it matter if they did?” I asked.

 

“I don’t like being made fun of. And I don’t like to be seen naked,” she said.

 

“Why is that?” I calmly asked again.

 

“Because I don’t look like a supermodel!” she replied with animated hand gestures and with seeming frustration with my apparent lack of ability to be able to understand the point she was trying to get at.

 

“Well, none of us really do,” I replied. At this point it was time to eat dinner, and the conversation ended, at least for the time being.

 

It’s very sad to me that, despite whatever efforts I have tried to make, my daughter obviously feels some shame, or lack of measuring up to what she thinks would be other’s expectations of her, associated with her own body. I did try very hard not to teach that. To this very day, she has yet to close a bathroom door while showering or taking a bath. And regardless of who in the family happens to walk into the bathroom, it seems to go largely ignored. Most of the time she doesn’t even change clothes for her showers/baths in the bathroom, causing her to take the hallway trip in at most a towel. Not that many years ago, her mother was alarmed because she tended to roam the whole house nude around shower time, even when friends were visiting. How times change, and how quickly.

 

Where does this “teaching” come from? It surely is difficult to avoid. She is clearly aware that I don’t hide from her, and probably assumes (correctly) I’m not bothered in a locker room, which she knows I visit daily. In fact, we’ve talked about that quite directly before, when I’ve taken her swimming at the same place. Too bad that unless I miss my guess, there will be an expectation of no nudity when she does get to Junior High, thus reinforcing the developing attitude. No doubt the unenlightened concept of absolute “modesty in dress” will follow.

 

I’m left to conclude that my own very intentional example of common nudity around the house is insufficient to prevent my children from acquiring society’s commonplace “body shame.” I have been nude often in my own home, so much so that the other morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, not having dressed yet, I was nude and my daughter seemed to not even notice. At least around bathtime and such, my children are also openly nude around the house. Yet the body shame has developed to a clearly unhealthy degree in my daughter, despite my efforts. The messages of the world have overwhelmed the message I have tried to teach by example.

 

Those parents who think they are doing their children sufficient good by restricting the nudity their children experience to their home are deluding themselves. No matter how attractive the safety and security of this limitation may seem, we are not making sufficient progress at inoculating our children against body shame. The messages from other sources are simply too powerful and too overwhelming. All one has to do is visit a public locker room these days and see if you can find anybody at all under the age of 40 who is simply and comfortably showering nude and changing their clothes. We have sold our hearts, minds, and souls to those who would pervert and make shameful the most incredible wonder and beauty found in every single human body ever created.

 

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