How growing up in an almost always naked home made me (eventually) love my body.
In 6th grade, a new friend came over and saw both of my parents lounging naked in the backyard. This is when I found out my family was a little different than most.
My friend screamed. I thought another rabbit had fallen into the pool so I screamed, too.
My mother leisurely laid a towel over my father’s bare butt (he was asleep, face down, thankfully) and slipped on her baggy London Calling t-shirt. It almost covered everything.
My friend admitted this was the first time she’d seen a naked man.
“Not even your dad?” I asked. In the moment, I was kind of proud; for once I wasn’t the prudish, flat-chested teenager I was becoming. She looked even more appalled at my question than she had after seeing my dad’s ass. She left and I was mortified.
When I asked my mom to wear clothes next time I brought a friend over, she refused. “It’s my house!” she said, t-shirt free once again. “I’ll wear pants when you pay the mortgage!”
At home, my parents were almost always naked. I was used to it because I was pretty much always naked, too. Photos showed my family happily bathing suit-free in our hot tub and my twin and I running bare through the sand with naked parents in tow. Apparently, this was not the case for most kids my age. Apparently, most kids wear clothes while participating in family activities, even in California.
My parents are both Boomers. They grew up in a time of strict parents with tight neckties and merciless girdles and sympathized with Sally Draper when we all used to watch Mad Men in our underwear on visits home. They became teenagers, burned bras, took acid in the Woodstock mud, deemed themselves hippies and never turned back. They actually met each other naked, during a business meeting held in a hot tub (again, this is California). However, my parents would not call themselves nudists. They would call themselves comfortable.
And that’s what growing up with my parents was: comfortable. My parents’ nakedness was never a political point, never something they forced on others, and it was definitely never sexualized. I remember walking in on my parents having sex once when I was home from college; they both screamed and covered their parts in awkward body contortions as if I had never seen them in anything less than Downton Abbey-style dressing gowns.
My parents’ nudie ways seemed pretty normal until I reached middle school and started seeing bodies, especially my own, as something to be embarrassed about. As I entered the inescapable body-hating stage of puberty, I took to wearing as many clothes as possible. It was awkward–-and aggravating at times–-coming home to two people so comfortable with their bodies while all I wanted to do was escape the fact that I existed underneath my Limited Too built-in-bra spaghetti strap camisole. Looking at my parents, I wondered if I would ever be able to be that open in front of anyone if anyone would be that comfortable in front of me.
Original publication 5 February, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 21st January 2021
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