What’s your stand on kids running around naked?

I came across this article in the New York Times this morning and I wondered: Why is nudity, even of children, such a big deal in the US?

Let’s all remember Janet Jackson’s little “wardrobe malfunction” (or whatever it was) at the 2004 Superbowl Halftime Show and the public outcry that followed, shall we? I am thinking: RIDICULOUS. Don’t have people more important things to do and talk about than a little boob flash on TV?
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell commented following the incident “We all as a society have a responsibility as to what the images and messages our children hear when they’re likely to be watching television.”
But I seriously ask you, what harm do you think could this 9/16th of a second of breast exposure have done to a child?  I am not even sure a kid would have necessarily noticed or thought much of it, if it hadn’t been for the parents and/or media that completely freaked the *eff* out.
I honestly believe that the hype that surrounded this incident had a much bigger impact on children than the incident itself. I for one found the whole story slightly amusing and not at all “outrageous” or “a sign of decreasing morality in the national culture”. Why is nudity in public such a HUGE issue? Or was it the sexual implication that went along with the boob flash? I mean, come on. What about the suggestive moves and the very explicit lyrics? Isn’t that much worse than a little bit of extra skin?

Comparing nudity and sexuality is like comparing apples and oranges. They are two completely different things. To come full circle, I know, you might be wondering what the boob flash incident has to do with kids running around naked.
It has nothing and everything to do with it.
To kids things are only a “big deal” if adults make them a big deal.  If someone has a problem with seeing young children running around naked, it makes me think that they have a hang-up of some sort. There is nothing wrong with kids being naked and for God’s sake, please don’t make it anything sexual. It is not. Even when kids touch themselves or other kids, it’s totally natural up to a certain age (it’s called natural development)… unless adults make it out to be something else (and that’s where all the distorted sexual ideas in children and teens come from, IMHO).

In Germany, nudity is not a big issue. My parents let me run around naked at the beach, in the backyard and at home until I was maybe 4-5 years old, topless until I was maybe 10. After all, I didn’t have any breasts back then. And, at the risk of making your jaws drop, I’ve always got to see my parents naked as well. I mean, to heck with it, I still see them naked occasionally. In case you fear my family is a bunch of hippies and we all hang out naked when we get together, that is not the case :)
But when I visit home and they happen to get out of the shower in the morning – well, let’s just say they don’t wear bathing suits or shorts to shower.
Also, there is nothing “immoral” about seeing you parents naked after the age of 5 or being seen by them.
It is also very normal that women (and guys, respectively) shower in a communal shower area after working out. After all, there is nothing to see that one hasn’t seen before ;)

I know that I can only speak for myself and about how things were done in my family, but I do believe that kids that grow up accepting nudity as something natural, which you don’t have to be ashamed about, are much more relaxed and comfortable with themselves and others. And Janet Jackson’s boob flash wouldn’t raise much more than an amused eyebrow with them (as it did with most Europeans when the incident was broadcasted a day after it happened).

Most people were actually thinking “‘What’s all the fuss about over there”?

  1. I totally agree with you and subscribe your post.
    When I read/see something like this I always have “The Star-Spangled Banner” words in my mind ‘….the land of the free’ ????

  2. I totally agree with what you said. My kids run laps around our house naked and they are 5 and 7 (it’s hysterical to watch, by the way.) I just don’t see what the big deal is with nudity! It is a body, everbody has one. Get over it.

    Great post San!

  3. Thinking the same thing here…Janets boob flash amused me and the hype America made of it amused me even more.

    I ran around naked when I was a kid, my hubby grew up in Eastern Germany and spent his summers at the FKK-Strand and I still see my parents naked when we go to the Sauna. My kids see me naked all the time when I get in/out of the shower…My daughter didn’t even comment when she saw her baby brother naked…she has seen her daddy naked when we went to the pool or in the shower so nothing new there…

  4. sorry, can’t answer that question. i grew up just like you. we actually never even had a key to the bathroom door. we only had one bathroom most of the time and if one of us was in the shower and someone else had to go in the bathroom for whatever reason, they came in. i saw my parents and siblings naked all the time. no biggie. so jeah, i don’t get any of it, either.

    i remember them giving us this huge lecture about how to never photograph our kids naked in the backyard or bathtub or anything during my aupair-year because apparently you might end up with the police on your doorstep for child por**graphie or something *shakeshead*

    so jeah, i don’t get it. just like a gazillion other things about the american “culture” ;)

  5. Oh my gosh thanks Sannie for the great post! I don’t get it either! I mean afterall I was the one that changed on the beach when I first came here and it made a lot of people very uncomfortable. haha. It is so ridiculous. I still see my mom naked when she comes to visit and we share a bathroom together, I dont have the slightest problem with it.

    I know my husband does not want to see his parents naked at all. However, he grew up thinking it was wrong. While I grew up seeing tons of naked people everything. I dont get the big deal. I want my kids to grow up just like I did. Taking bath with my parents without being ashamed. But I can only imagine what will happen if they mention that in school.haha.

  6. Okay, I’m a born and bred American. Raised by two very uptight parents. And try as I might to break free I was never able to personally. In fact I never even slept naked until I entered menopause and even now I keep on my socks! lol! When I lived in Germany I did venture out to the lake and tried so hard to relax enough to enjoy the experience of sunbathing naked. Alas, I am an emotionally wrecked adult.
    However, my ex-husband and I raised our kids differently and my daughter does not have this hang-up at all.
    Hubby is totally comfortable in his skin and is always encouraging me to let go. Maybe when I am old and allow myself to go gray. lol!

  7. maribeth, i’m actually not comfortable totally nude in public either. topless is okay when maybe at a beach on vacation but that’s about it. i personally don’t “get” (or even really like) the whole FKK thing. i just think there’s a difference between seeing a nipple here or there (on TV or in your own HOME) and everyone running around naked.

    i think those tiny bikini-tops for little girls are simply ridiculous. what are they even supposed to cover? and i think it’s normal in a family that kids see their parents naked in their house when they grow up. taking a bath with mom or dad or my siblings was the greatest thing. just like running around naked in the backyard under the sprinklers.

    i honestly think it’s much healthier for kids to grow up knowing what a naked body looks like. what different naked bodies look like. naked is not = sex which is what i think is kind of how the US culture sees it (correct me if i’m wrong…). it’s pretty strange to be honest if you grew up like we did in germany.

  8. @ all: Thank you for your comments on this. I really appreciate your input. Special thanks to you, Kim, because you cleared some things up so nicely for Maribeth. I am totally with you on the FKK thing. I am not necessarily comfortable with that and I don’t even know if I would go topless at the beach, but I definitely don’t mind if others take of their tops and I do think little kids are “supposed” to be naked ;)

  9. San and Kim, What a great topic! I’ve enjoyed everyone’s views on this.
    When my girls were little the only thing they wore at the beach was nothing. Perhaps a diaper if I suspected a poop was on the way. My daughter now has a very healthy feeling about nudity and I am glad.
    I wish that my parents had been different and I’d been allowed such freedom. In fact I wanted to tell you a little story.
    When I was about four years old I was playing outside with my friends, who were all boys, and we were in the sandbox with our trucks. The boys all took off their shirts because they were hot and I started to take mine off too. My mother ran over and scolded me like crazy telling me that only bad girls took their clothes off like that!
    Yep, here I am 50 years old and I still remember that.
    Have a great weekend!

  10. When I was reading the post I had so much to say, but you and Kim took the words out of my mouth.

    It was exactly the same in my family. Even when I was over 18 it happened hat I was in the tube enjoying a hot, bubbly bath with my book to read and my Dad knocked and came in to bring me a cup of tea. ;-)
    He always made his “Special” Tea-mix and he knew I would be angry when I come out of the bath and there is no tea left for me – so he brought me some.

    I ran around naked in the garden so many times and I am still running around in the house and garden in only a Bikini.
    Yesterday I had to mow the backyard and I did it in my Bikini (and my (not) very sexy Garden-shoes) as it was just too hot! ;-)

    And no, I am not totally naked in public but I took my Bikini-Top off a few times on the beach.

    Great post San!!

  11. “Comparing nudity and sexuality is like comparing apples and oranges.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    My parents couldn’t keep clothes on me for the first few years of my life. I would go swimming naked, hang out in the backyard naked and sometimes run down the street. OK, that one might have been a bit of a problem… but only because OTHER people made it a problem.

    I have seen my parents naked my entire life and like Kim, for many years we lived without a door on the bathroom. AND, the only time I had a door on my bedroom was when I decided to sand and paint a door and hang it!

    The only problem with kids being naked is that other people sexualize it, and make it a problem. Kids are kids and why not let them be free?

  12. Thanks! this is EXACTLY what I’m thinking!!!!

  13. it always cracks me up how much this still is a big deal in a so called “open minded” country. me, being german, of course grew up the same way like u girls. i still see my mom naked. i always saw my bro naked. not anymore of course. lol

    i don’t think (at all) that a nipple on tv would bother any child. i mean in showergel ad’s on tv over here u always see a nipple or a whole breast and if you grow up like that i don’t think it bothers you at all. and i mean think of the kids in east germany, who grew up with complete nudity on the beaches. i am sure they experienced it as completely normal. and they thought we in the west were sooo conservative.
    that reminds me of a very interesting conversation i had during my last trip to see my bf, where we went out with a friend and his girlfriend or whatsoever;-) and she was shocked that we even have mixed sauna’s over here, or would show breasts or even everything on the beach. i seriously think, she thought i was freak when i told her how much people laughed about that whole nipplegate thingie in europe.

    people, get a life there are definitely a lot serious topics in this world to discuss about. not that i want to offend your topic, san. just saying that i still think it’s no big deal at all.

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