Guest post by Candy Cook of Unschool Unleashed
I'm the mother of two sons. I was 22 when my oldest son was born. I was aware that my sons would grow up in the same world as young girls. The same world that would subject them to body-image doubts and self esteem issues similar to the issues girls face.
My momma raised me with some armor against the superficial expectations that would be placed upon my female body. I have worn makeup only a handful of times in my life. I have never been a slave to fashion or dieting fads, nor have I ever looked in the mirror and seen an ugly person staring back at me. I'm grateful to my momma for raising me the way she did. However, she could have gone a step further and allowed me to see what a real human female body, other than my own, looks like.
My oldest son was born in May, the onset of the summer season. We lived in a secluded home and spent a lot of time nude together. We splashed in the tub together. I held his naked little body against my own skin to breastfeed. I had never felt so comfortable in my own skin as I was being nude with my naked little baby.
This never before experienced comfort level led me to a decision. I would be somewhat of a nudist with my children. I can't remember one instance of seeing my mother or father completely nude. That was a mistake I didn't want to make with my own sons. I wanted my sons to see me (and their father) nude to allow them to have at least one image of a real, live, non-airbrushed human body.
(Hands Female Nude Baby - Kahlil Gibran)
I was aware that my sons would have plenty of opportunity to see perfect bodies of airbrushed and make-up enhanced women in magazines, on television, and plastered on big billboards or signs at the stores. There would be plenty of opportunity for that everywhere they looked.
There would be a lot less opportunity for them to see a real, regular body like the one their momma has - a body with no help from Photoshop or makeup and not enough money or time for frequent visits to the gym with a personal trainer.
My sons are almost 10 & 11, now. They have spent the first decade of their lives knowing what a real, animated human body looks like. They have a realistic image of a female human body that will help them form realistic expectations as they grow into manhood and possibly begin dating women. They also have realistic expectations for themselves. They can feel comfortable with their flaws and know that they are not the only ones with a real human body. Their momma and daddy also have real human bodies.
I have never tried to hide my body from my children. At a young age, we know what naked elephants look like, naked dogs and cats, and monkeys. Why don't we know what naked humans look like? I think it's an important, often overlooked, defense against body image & self esteem issues, for children to see and know what our bodies look like - without clothes, without Photoshop, without makeup, without fear or embarrassment. Just us, au natural.
Candy is the 33 year old mother of two sons, 9 & 10. They've been unschooling life learners for 5 years. Their husband/daddy passed away in 2011 and they have since adopted another partner in life, Pete. Life is good and they live it to the fullest, sharing their adventures in learning & life at Unschool Unleashed.