Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Eat the Apple

So, not unusually, I’m sure, my daughters LOVE to be naked. Little D2, when she manages to escape mid-diaper change, will run around slapping her hiney, gleefully chanting “bum,bum,bum!” While potty training D1, I allowed her to be naked quite a lot. She still prefers to be this way. She spends the majority of her time at home undressed, or half-dressed. I really do try to keep her clothed, especially with the colder weather. But it is a losing battle that I only half-heartedly fight. I know I have to teach her that it is not appropriate to spend your time naked. Certainly not with other children or adults, and definitely not in public, or even in the privacy of your own backyard, with others watching. I know this. I know it is our cultural ways, and this post is certainly not a pro-nudist statement on the woes of our clothed society. It is a statement on the woes of our perfectionist, beauty and body ideal obsessed society. So I apologize, my self deprecating or D2 antics are probably my better (please, be kind!) writing. This one may be a little sappy, more like a greeting card than a Jen Adventure. Consider yourself warned.

I love the absolute naturalness of their time spent without clothes. The complete lack of self consciousness. The way D2 will pause, mid play, completely naked, to stare at the TV in front of her. Holding her body in a comfortable stance. Her belly poking out, her dimply behind relaxed. Perfect. Unencumbered. Absolute beauty. D2 running around in circles, dancing, blissfully free. Before I know it, they will haven taken the bite from that apple. Self consciousness will set in. Embarrassment. The needed modesty to exist in our society. And with it, a part of their innocence. Their babyhood. Gone, forever.

What will take its place? Confidence in the capability, strength and beauty of their body, which is merely protected under clothing? Or discontent, hatred even, of the inadequacies they detect? Dimples, lack of muscles, cellulite? As someone who has battled with body image issues from a very young age, how do I raise confident, body accepting women? Will it be all my fault? Was it all my Mother’s fault for my issues? I think not. Where does it come from? Is it just a roll of the dice, a part of the way you simply are – just like a dislike of mushrooms, or a hot temper? Or is it a societal problem, starting from Disney and the Princesses, onto Hannah Montana and finally Vogue?

Is there a solution? Keep them away from all media? Please. Cinderella just seeps into them; they wake up one day, and love her. I think it’s something they put into the juice boxes of little girls. It’s simply there. Perhaps it’s up to me to introduce them to stronger women. Less physically perfect, but fierce and beautiful all the same.

I paused for a long time after that last sentence. Sad, but who are these women? Do I have to reach all the way back to Greek and Roman mythology? Do we have any present day examples? And please, not athletes. I don’t find them to be appropriate roll models, either. How upsetting, I can’t think of one.

For now, I will hold onto their little selves. Their freedom and grace. I know their perfect little bodies will carry them through amazing lives. Those bodies will be their vehicles to see, hear and feel so many amazing things. I will treasure that, for them.


Shana said...

Your story sounds real familiar. Not the whole naked thing so much. But definitely trying to promote good body image with my children. My son...boys. They don't seem to struggle too much. But my daughter, my extremely skinny and tall daughter, has been caught a few times saying, "I'm fat. I need to go on a diet." If anything, she needs to eat more! And it does not help that I am so overweight. I have too watch what I say around her very carefully. I try not to lament on my weight as a beauty thing (I must be this size) but more from a health standpoint. Size is just a number. Just be healthy.

Jiff said...

Yeah, I love the sweet innocence too. Unfortunately I'm having to curb my 6 year old stepson from running through the house naked when getting ready for his bath when we have company over. He just sees people and stands there half self conscious for just a second then he giggles. lol. It IS funny, but sad that I have to tell him to cover up.