Childrearing

You Can’t Use A Nude Beach To Teach Kids Postive Body Image

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You Can t Use A Nude Beach To Teach Kids Postive Body Image 469883149 280x186 jpgVacationing in other countries allows families to discuss how other cultures differ from their own. Experiencing new things as a family can lead to life long memories and stories that will become the stuff of family legends. But if your children aren’t used to seeing the human form without clothing, taking kids to a nude beach while on vacation to teach them about body confidence may be too big of a life lesson to squeeze into one day of family fun.

Reddit Parents poster danokablamo took to the internet for advice. He’s planning a Disney cruise with his extended family, and he and his wife want to take their three children, daughters ages 5 and eight, and a nine-year-old son, to Orient Beach, a nude beach on the French side of St. Maarten.

Despite the fact that danokablamo’s parents (who are going on the trip as well) don’t think it’s a good idea and the children’s therapist is on the fence about it, danokablamo thinks the experience will be good for his children. He plans to tell the children that he and their mother will be naked and they can come and be naked if they want to be, or they can come and wear clothes. If the children don’t want to come, he plans to leave them behind in the daycare on the cruise ship. From Reddit:

My wife is Japanese and everyone bathes together in public baths growing up and she thinks we are weird to be so obsessed and afraid of nudity and I agree with her. I’ve been to a nude beach before and there is nothing sexual about it! People who are there are real people with real bodies and it’s not a big deal at all once you get there.
I’m hoping it will give my daughters … and my son … a chance to see real normal naked bodies instead of the fake photoshopped junk you get in magazines and the silicone you get with porn.

I’m also assuming once they get there they will relax and just enjoy the sand and sea without it being a big deal. What do you all think? Am I making some kind of mistake?

Redditors seem pretty split on the issue, with the most pragmatic commentators being most concerned about all that delicate skin getting enough sunblock. But I think the advantage goes to team “Bad Idea”.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong about being naked around or with children. Teaching kids body confidence and the difference between what bodies really look like and how the media presents them are some of the hardest tasks parents face. If you are comfortable with being naked around your children from a young age, it’s possible that they will grow up seeing nudity as a non issue and you can be proud of your parenting skills in that area.

But in the case of danokablamo’s children, they haven’t grown up around adult nudity. And especially for the older children, who are ages eight and nine, they may already have feelings of embarrassment over seeing adults, including their parents, naked. They may feel pressured to remove their own clothes like their parents, when they would rather remain dressed. The fact that the children’s therapist isn’t convinced that this will be a useful life lesson and dad’s assertion that he and the mom will be naked suggests this experience is more about the parents crossing something off their bucket list rather than teaching their children a lesson in body confidence.

Even if the children are willing to go to the beach, just because other people are naked doesn’t mean they should become specimens for this family’s experiment. Children may react to seeing naked people for the first time by pointing and laughing or making rude comments about other people– hardly an ideal family beach day experience.

Wanting to teach your children to be comfortable in their bodies is a noble goal that would align with the attitude of many other cultures around the world. But trying to accomplish that goal with a single trip to a nude beach is a bad idea. Body image issues are complex and can’t be addressed in a single day. Vacationing should be a time for trying new foods and meeting new people, not seeing adult nipples for the first time.

(image: 3sbworld/GettyImages.com)

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