Why I Want My Sons to See Me Naked


I may live with a houseful of boys, but they're still relatively young - so there are no nudie mags stashed between mattresses, no stealthily-accessed porn sites that someone forgot to erase out of the Internet history, nothing like that. As much as I'd love to think my kids won't be curious, I'm well aware that won't be the case: those things are looming and will probably start happening much sooner than I'd like. (I mean, if I had my druthers, they wouldn't even think about sex until they're like twenty-five. Clearly, though, nature doesn't care about my opinion because the topic has already been brought up).

But before all that happens - before they're exposed to boobs that are as round and firm as cantaloupes and pictures of taut, airbrushed, dimple-less butts, I'm exposing them to a different kind of female body.

Mine.

Ours is not a modest household. I don't lounge around in the buff like my boys do (and I spend more time saying, "Put on some pants!" than anything else). But I've never refrained from changing clothes in front of them, or leaving the door open when I shower, or nursing babies without a cover. Because I want them to see what a real female body looks like. Because if I don't - and their first images of a naked woman are the impossibly perfect physiques in those magazines or those movies - what kind of expectations will they have? And what woman could ever live up to them?

It's no secret to anybody who's read my blog that I'm dismayed, big-time, by my post-baby body. But for the sake of my boys - and my future daughters-in-law - I lie through my teeth. When they ask about my stretch marks, I tell them proudly how growing a baby is hard work, and they're like badges I've earned (gaming references always hit home with dudes, no matter what you're explaining). As much as I'd like to cringe and shrink away when they touch my squishy belly, I let them squeeze my flab between their fingers. Do I hate it? Yes. I want to say, "Leave my fat alone!" and run for the nearest oversized t-shirt (or, like, the nearest liposuction clinic).

But I don't. Because for right now, for these few formative years, my flab is their one and only perception of the female body. And I want them to know that it's beautiful, even in its imperfection.

I tell them how strong my body is, and they see me work out. They see me make healthy food choices, but still indulge in my love of baked goods. And though - like most women - I might beat myself up over my jeans getting too tight or groan in frustration at the numbers on the scale, I'm never anything but proud of my body in front of my boys. Even when I feel the complete opposite inside. Instilling a positive body image is not an issue reserved for people with daughters - and for boys, it's not only making them confident about their own bodies, but letting them know that real is beautiful when it comes to the opposite sex.

I don't want to do them, or any women they might happen to see naked in the future, the disservice of telling them that saggy boobs are bad or that a little bit of flab is something to be ashamed of. I want them to know that this is the norm: not the nipped-tucked-and-digitally-enhanced images they're going to be bombarded with. Sure, they'll gawk at those bouncy boobies and flat stomachs and perky butts ... but I have hope that, deep down inside, they'll know that isn't the standard to which they should hold women's bodies. Like, ever.

There will come a time when I cover up when they're around. I'm sure at some point I'll hear, "Ugh, Mom, put some clothes on!" or that they'll learn to knock before barging into the bathroom (which sounds heavenly - I'm not gonna lie). But until then, I'll let them run their fingers along my stretch marks, and grin and bear it when they squeal with delighted laughter at the way my butt jiggles when I walk across the room to grab a towel. Because while they're young, I want to plant the seed - so that when they're older, and their wives say, "I wish my thighs were smaller," my sons can say, "They're perfect just the way they are."

And mean it.

21 comments:

  1. This is SO important......good job!

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  2. I love this. My first son is now 3 weeks old and I'm already pining for my pre pregnancy body.

    Your sons will be a credit to you and hopefully when mine is old enough I can teach him the same.

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  3. My boys (now 10 and 12) saw me naked til my oldest was about 9, and then it made him uncomfortable. Sadly (yes, I did say sadly), my boys tend to be on the prudish side, like my hubby... All that said, when my oldest was about 6, I went on a diet. When he asked why, I explained that I wanted to lose weight, and what that meant. He started to cry, and said "but Mommy, I like you fat".... Seriously, one of the best compliments I've ever received.

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  4. This is such a wonderful post. I will keep this in mind as my children grow up. Always be proud of my body and not let them see me get upset over it. I think your boys will grow up to be such wonderful men! They're lucky to have a mom like you (even if they don't consider themselves lucky to walk in on their mom naked haha!).

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  5. Love this post!!! So very, very important to be real:) You are hilarious and I look forward to reading your posts!!

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  6. I SO agree--we need to show our kids we love our imperfect bodies, so they will grow up loving theirs! I have 3 young girls and never thought about how important this is for young boys to learn too. Great post!

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  7. Beautiful, Rita! I've been practicing the same (& been meaning to do a post about it but procrastinating wins). I threw away the scale& never cringe outwardly at my new bod. Even when Lilly nudges my belly to watch it jiggle or inquires about the stretch marks.

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  8. Well said! I was just thinking about this very subject this weekend...

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  9. Love this! They'll be such great husbands their wives won't care when they miss the toilet bowl.

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  10. Love!!!! Great job!!!

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  11. I really loved this!! I always worry about what my girls think, but never what I expose my boy to.

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  12. I love this and have been doing the same in my boy-filled home too (I have three under 8). I often think of how I need to teach them how to be comfortable with girls/women whether it's in the schoolyard now (including girls in a game maybe) or later, for all the reasons you've laid out here so eloquently! Our little kiddos have the potential to change the world and this is where it starts, respect for everyone modeled at home. Maybe I'm overthinking this..ha! Obviously I really liked your post this morning as I had my coffee :)

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  13. Wonderful, wonderful. Sharing this on my social media. Thank you so much!

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  14. We are the first models on what our sons will compare there future girlfriends to.

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  15. Wonderfully written! It's nice to know there are some actual grown-ups out there. =)

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  16. Good job momma! I love this. Keep up the good work!

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  17. I love this!! I dont want my son growing up thinking that the female body is just like whats on the magazine covers. Women are NOT edited images! We arent perfect :-)

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  18. As a now grand dad, my mom allowed me to see her naked when I was younger. It taught me beauty is more than skin deep. It teaches that cosmetic beauty cannot compete with natural beauty.

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  19. I am now on my third time around with a breastfeeding baby,..... however it is our first boy. I love him! I adore him. But, I have had some severe body image complex. For the most stupid reason of all, I'm sure you can imagine, but I'll tell you anyway. I am not photoshopped. I'm not, I can't compete with these magazine and pornstar women who's only job is to pose a certain way, in specific clothing or none at all. I've had children, and it's Hard on your body, my boobs were barely a B cup and perky when my husband and I married, now I'm a DD, and not so perky ��. It's serious. And sad that for most boys I never realized their ideas of how a woman's body should be is magazines or other media options.......UNLESS we as mothers show them what is normal, what is REAL!
    Thank you for this post, though almost 3 years late to the party, just in time to teach my children. My daughters as well. Because, they are going to be bombarded by false images of women and I don't want them worried they are not good enough. Because they are. I AM!
    -Tiauna

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