We’ve been spending a lot of time at home. We’re kind of on top of each other, maybe even in each other’s space when bathing or dressing. You might be comfortable with nudity – yours, your partner’s, your kids’ – or maybe not. I received a question from a parent recently about who should be naked around who, until what age, and so on, and I already wrote a blog post about that (find it here).
That email got me thinking though. Nudity, it turns out, is a super interesting topic and it has been studied quite a bit. The benefits are far reaching, both of being nude and seeing other people’s nude bodies, and it’s highly connected to body image, self-esteem, and mental health.
Unhealthy body image is common
Whether we’re seeing family members naked or not, we see a lot of skin in advertising and in pornography, but those videos and images are not showing normal bodies. In fact, the images are highly modified, like this one.
Those images do us harm, decreasing self-esteem, leading to unhealthy body image, and higher rates of depression. They promote unhealthy relationships with food and eating disorders, which are the most fatal of all mental health challenges.
The remedy is seeing real bodies
Research has found that nudist activities lead to increased life satisfaction, body image, and self-esteem.
Now, I’m not saying you have to be naked with your kids or them with you. Even though the benefits have been established, it might not match your values, your family, or your culture. And it’s perfectly understandable if you’re not inclined to visit a nude beach or public bath during a global pandemic.
You and your family don’t have to get naked if you don’t want to! Turns out, there’s lots of nude art, and it’s accessible online.
Why show kids videos of naked people?
As we spend more time at home and online, there’s potential for increased exposure to unrealistic bodies. Music videos, movies, video games and online catalogs show us a very narrow ideal. Let’s counteract the influence of media messaging.
Another reason is to disconnect nudity and sex, two ideas which are often conflated. It turns out that being naked is not the same thing as being sexual, and seeing naked bodies isn’t necessarily arousing. These are revelations for some.
Plus, I can almost guarantee they’re curious. Most people are curious! We cover up with clothes and it’s rare to see imperfect skin, hair, and bellies. Least common of all is seeing people’s private parts, breasts and genitals.
That curiosity is healthy and should be satisfied by real bodies, not porn. Viewing real bodies leads to better acceptance of our own traits. Viewing manicured bodies leads to dissatisfaction.
Plus, a video posted to the internet on an artist’s site is ethically done. The artist has obtained the consent of everyone involved – this isn’t voyeurism or invasion of privacy. No one watching these videos has to feel guilty or like a peeping tom.
Best of all, this can prompt some interesting discussions.
Ready to give it a go?
I’ll save you the trouble of googling for images of naked people and weeding out the pornography. (Ye-gads, that would be awful! And just imagine the links that would be showing up in your sidebar for the next 6 months. Ugh.)
Here’s the site I recommend to clients when they tell me their kids are curious, turning to porn for lack of anything else. You get to preempt that, offering this before your kids try entering anatomical terms into the search bar and the monitoring software starts sending you alerts. (Yep, kids do that. And you’ll thank goodness that you got around to adding parental controls beforehand, because it’ll filter out all the hard core stuff.)
As with any resource, check it out yourself before sharing with your kids. I thought these were great, and I hope you do, too. You’ll see differing body types, different ages and stages, various grooming practices, body art and piercings. Not very racially diverse, I have to admit, but that could lead to an interesting discussion, too.
Now, remember, this is an invitation, not a requirement. Consent!! If your partner or child does not want to partake, please respect their wishes. If you offer and they decline, that’s fine. You’ve planted the seed for another time.
Enjoy!! Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
In support of you,
P.S. Here’s my favorite of Spencer Tunick’s art. How beautiful it is to have bodies of every shape and size and color!