Nipples and Elbows: Don't Zucc Us For Trying to Normalize the Human Body
Ah, the human body. I mean really, the human body is just simply amazing.
I really dislike wearing clothes. I am far from a naturalist, but when I am home you will always find me in a tank top (vest top for the Brits) and underwear. As a result, my lovely children have grown up seeing their mother naked on the daily; and as a result, it’s just a non-thing for them. It’s also worth mentioning that I breastfed both of my kids until at least the age of three, so they saw a lot of my boobs as well.
I can’t really recall seeing my mother naked and I DEFINITELY didn’t see my father naked—that was just not done in my house. My mom wore these Victorian-style nightgowns that covered every inch of her body. She hated wearing a bathing suit, and she HATED her body. Those lessons were definitely ingrained into me from as far back as I can remember, and as a result I felt a lot of shame around my body. I was told that I shouldn’t show too much of it, and I should try to lose weight because I was too fat. I never felt comfortable in my own skin or on the beach. I was always covering myself up. To top it off, I have a very embarrassing skin condition called hidradenitis supperativa that has left massive scars on a lot of my body.
It has taken me a long time to be comfortable in my own skin—skin that is covered in scars, a constant reminder of every painful flare up I have ever experienced in the last 25 years. I am slowly getting there. Right now I feel the best I have ever felt about my body. I mean, this body grew and birthed my two babies and then kept them fed for a total of 5.5 years; I now have a lot more respect for it.
This is the message that I am teaching to my children. I am teaching them that bodies are bodies. They know what a normal adult female body looks like because they see one every day. I am far from the air brushed females that they are exposed to in the media, and I am teaching them that that’s okay. They see my scars and understand that every body is different and THAT’S OKAY.
My son and my daughter will grow up knowing that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. I do my best not to talk down about my body or anyone else’s in front of them, and I explain that everyone is different and that is what makes us unique. We talk openly about their bodies—including their genitals, my period, my skin condition, body hair, what’s going to happen when they are older—everything! They know that nothing is off limits to talk about, and I am really hoping that they will not grow up with the shame I did about bodies and their normal functions.
I think it’s super important that we as parents allow our children to have an open dialogue with us about their bodies. If we make it just another part of life, like learning how to read, or how to ride a bike, then they will hopefully feel more comfortable coming to us as they get older. If parents have always been the ones who give out information then we will be the ones they come to when they have questions about sex – it will just be a natural progression, and one that I value highly in my relationships with my children. I work in secondary education and believe me, you don’t want your kids learning about their bodies and sex from the wrong sources—but that’s another topic for another article!