A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who has a daughter the same age as Waylon about toddlers and nudity. I told her I still let Waylon, nearly two, run around naked outside and she confessed she does not allow her daughter do the same.
It was an interesting conversation. She explained that she feels a responsibility to protect her daughter’s privacy and guard against creepers and their creepy thoughts. Family naked time is okay, but any public space is not. We wondered if it was because she was a girl. We wondered at what age is it not okay to be naked.
From the beginning, Austin and I have been very unashamed of our son’s body. We let him roam our house and backyard (and other’s backyards) free as a bird. It makes him happy and it makes us happy to let his diapered parts breathe. There’s also nothing cuter than a tiny baby butt.
Of course I have rules. I never post pictures of frontal baby or toddler nudity on the Internet and I stopped posting bottom pictures soon after he turned one. But in real life? Sitting around our house or out in a backyard? There are no rules there as long as no one is pooping on anyone else.
It is strange, though, to hear the very different opinions on toddler and infant nudity. My mama friend from California believes the anti-naked toddler movement is only specific to this (more conservative) area. She said as soon as she moved here, she noticed a difference in how people treat their (and their children’s) bodies, almost with shame or a sense of extreme modesty. When I pressed further, she said she completely understands the safety issue, but the modesty issue just makes her uncomfortable. Why does a two year old need to be modest?
It is an interesting discussion, and the idea that my opinion might change if Waylon was a girl has me scratching my head. Why is a toddler vagina different than a toddler penis? Why are we so fearful of pedophilia? Does some of it have to do with teaching modesty? When should children learn to be modest? What does that look like?
After some deliberation, I decided to email my cousin-in-law Jennifer to get her take on the subject. Four kids later, she’s a wise one when it comes to bodies and babies and how to avoid being overprotective. This is what she said:
2) In our house, after age 2 or so, nudity only happens in the house or among close friends and family.
4) We follow the children’s example. Once they start covering up, then we do too.
What do you think? When is it okay to be naked?