Good Girls (Don’t) Wear Underpants

February 24, 2009

My daughter is a nudist. She is an unrepentant clothes-doffing, underwear-eschewing, bum-baring, breeze-loving, parts-showing nudist. It’s sort of awesome, but also a little disconcerting.

She doesn’t try to leave the house naked, although she has, in the heat of summer, had more than one naked spree in the yard. She just prefers, while indoors, to conduct her day without clothing. Which, you know, I sort of understand. Sort of. If I was a compact little person and did not fear knocking over coffee mugs with my pendulous boobs, I might enjoy doffing my clothing while going about my day. But I’m not a compact little person, and I might knock over coffee mugs with my pendulous boobs and, also, frighten any passers-by who might look in the windows. So it’s just not for me. But for Emilia? It’s simply the best condition in which to pass one’s time.

So it is that she watches television naked, plays the piano naked, paints pictures naked, reads stories naked, does yoga naked (seriously), dances naked, eats cookies naked, and discourses on the superiority of Diego to Dora and Grover to Elmo and DJ Lance to Barney naked. Which, as I said, is sort of awesome, in a Platonic perfection of the forms kind of way (anyone who has ever doubted the classical argument that there is such a thing as the perfect form of any actual or abstract thing need, I think, only consider the tiny perfect physical form of a very young human being to be convinced that there is some force to that argument.) But it’s also a little disconcerting. We are – I am – accustomed to moving through life clothed, for the most part. To all of sudden be accompanied, always (in the home, at least), by a tiny little naked being is a disruption of my usual way of doing things. It is to be thrust, suddenly, into a landscape that bears no small resemblance to an all-toddler performance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, full of naked sprites wearing funny hats and masks and giggling maniacally.

It’s a little strange.

I love that my daughter so exults in her physical being, that she is so unreservedly comfortable with her physical self. And yet I catch myself, sometimes, pestering her about sweaters and socks and underpants. Aren’t you cold? I ask. Would you like to put on socks? And, where are your underpants? Let’s put on underpants, shall we? You love your underpants!

And she rolls her eyes at me and says, no.

No, they’re lost.

No, they blew off.

No, because my pachina can’t breathe.

No, because my pachina gets scared in the dark.

No, because Swiper stole them.

All of which are entirely reasonable explanations for the absence of underpants, I suppose, but still: that she finds it necessary to justify her nudity to me – and that she demonstrates no end of creativity in coming up with such justifications – makes me feel, I don’t know, a little guilty? When I pester her about putting something on – sweater, socks, underpants – I worry that I am nudging the boundaries of shaming. That she feels compelled to defend her choice to be naked, that she constructs ever more elaborate explanations for shunning underwear (my pachina gets scared in the dark!) – is that evidence that she struggles under the gaze of an over-anxious, prudish mother? Am I sending the wrong message (naked is wrong, naked is bad, naked is not how we live, good girls don’t get naked, good girls wear underpants), even though I don’t intend to send that message, even though I don’t want to send that message?

I don’t worry about her becoming a lifelong nudist. I worry about her getting cold. I also worry about her peeing on the couch, which hasn’t happened yet, but still: one particularly engrossing episode of Global Grover and all the Scotchguard in the world won’t save our off-white sofa. I don’t worry about her being too fond of nudity. I don’t know that it’s possible to be over-fond of one’s own nudity. Her pleasure in her own nakedness is, I think, lovely. I love she loves her own skin, that she is most comfortable in the raw, that she curls up like a hairless cat on the sofa and tucks her feet under her bum and snuggles against her blankie and then waves one tiny hand imperiously to demand a cookie and some milk, both of which taste undeniably better when the crumbs and dribbles can roll down one’s bare chest and get caught in one’s navel. I love that she loves her little self, that she exults in her physicality, that she takes joy in feeling the heat from the fireplace warm her naked bottom, or the scratch of the wool rug against her bare belly, or the soft curve of the sofa pillows against the skin of her back. I love that she is so unabashedly, physically she. So I resolve to not worry about shame or unshame and to just let her be.

But if she pees on my couch, those underpants are going on with duct tape.

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    mothergoosemouse February 25, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Those explanations make me laugh every time.

    I do have to wonder if she gets cold now and then. But then I suppose she could put on mittens and a hat, leaving her pachina unencumbered by underwear.

    Katie February 25, 2009 at 4:20 am

    Haha this reminds me of my childhood neighbour who had a really young daughter who once ran outside in the nude. Completely nude. And there were a handful of kids out in the street that were probably not the best kids to be nude in front of.

    I had no idea what to do – I mean, I couldn’t grab her because, well, she was NUDE, so I ended up getting the hose and chasing her back to her house. Was definitely an interesting experience!

    bird1427 February 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Aah….I don’t have kids and I am 47. Life without pants is very good and life without underpants is even better sometimes. My boyfriend is 63 and there is an occasional odd Saturday or two where he hasn’t bothered to get dressed for the whole day. No, we are not nudists. As long as your daughter is comfortable, let her go naked. It is a nice way to be. I wish more women could be so comfortable with their grown-up bodies.

    Anonymous February 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Loved the blog and the comments! Our 3 children were all raised in a “clothing optional” home environment. They are all grown now, college grads, professionals in their careers and parents of our 7 grandkids. (one of ours ended up a chaplin in the military and still enjoys his nude recreation … he says there is no shame in a human body, after all it is as God created it)

    Children raised in an atmosphere where they are taught their bodies are shameful and something they have to hide all the time, are the ones that mostly have body issues in their teen and adult years.

    Good for you! … and good for the other’s comments … you will find your children will be well adjusted as they grow. And if you go one step further and drop your clothes, take them to nude beaches or resorts, they will not have to find out what other peoples bodies look like behind the shed, or in the back seat of a car. They won’t have to “play doctor” or “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” because they’ll already know what other bodies look like. Finally, they will understand that there are a hundred different body types and none are ugly.

    Nudie Grammy (and Poppy)

    Michelle Kemper Brownlow February 25, 2009 at 10:44 am

    This is the sweetest post I have read in a VERY long time! How precious!
    Thanks for sharing!!
    Still chuckling about “my pachina is scared of the dark!” LOL! Mine is, too!

    Just Another Hofeling February 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

    that’s hilarious, my son is more of a half time nudist. Half the clothes half the naked.

    LAVANDULA February 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    being naked is fun! mine have all gone through the nudity thing 8 year old loves to run around in just her panties and 4 year old when its hot takes it all husband and i still occasionally wander around in the buff if the teenagers aren’t home.oh who am i kidding clothing is optional at all times around here….as for emilia if she is comfortable then i wouldn’t worry about her HBM.

    Dawn - Room 704 February 25, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Personally, I don’t like or understand underwear. I mean, wtf – something to ride up the crack of my ass and just create more laundry. Forget it. I own some for special days during the month, otherwise I’m all commando all the time.

    Alex has never liked clothes too much. Or, I should say he’s always preferred naked. I have pix of him running around, hand on penis, wearing nothing but Mardi Gras beads and a GIANT smile.

    The cold thing? well yeah. But he’ll cuddle under a blanket and watch tv when I get too concerned that he’s going to turn into an ice cube.

    And the couch? well it’s hubs’ bachelor furniture so pee away little one, pee away.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Nudie Grammy: I’m not quite ready to get my naked on all the time (these puppies need support), but yeah, we do embrace (or try to embrace) the principle of ‘bodies are beautiful.’ The trick is balancing that with ‘privacy is nice, too’ – which my husband has been keen on every since the girl complimented him on his nice penis (spotted in bathroom).

    PhenomenalMama February 25, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    The summer my youngest turned 3 she had (mostly) outgrown her nudist ways. However, she was at the point where she would dress herself in the morning, and would consistently forget underpants. This wouldn’t be a problem if she didn’t love skirts as much as she did. I ended up having to travel with a spare pair of panties in my purse for those times when I forgot to do an underwear check and didn’t discover her naked butt until we were out somewhere in public.


    hschinske February 25, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    If she pees on the couch, underwear will stop NOTHING, anyway. In fact it will probably if anything cause the stain to spread to a larger area.

    I’m amazed no one on this thread has yet pulled a pedantic on you and pointed out that pachinas are ALWAYS in the dark, and she must mean her pulva. Or would that be pulpa? I don’t speak Three as well as I used to.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    hschinske – we’ve tried to explain about the pulva (would probably be PULBA), but she’s stuck on pachina.

    And the thing about the underwear is, she doesn’t have accidents in underwear – only when she’s freestylin’…

    Annie February 25, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Kids love to be nekkid! I relish in their enjoyment of it like you do and wish I could be free like that or remember what it’s like.

    You are a great writer, really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks

    Meg February 26, 2009 at 9:56 am

    My 3 year old has been going through this for so long now. I don’t really have an issue with it (less laundry to do!), but “people” seem to find a problem with it. I let her do it unless we have people coming over to the house. She knows she has to don panties if we are having company. But as soon as they leave, she’s stark naked again.

    Your daughter at least has creative reasons. I ask mine why she likes to be naked and she says “because I do”.

    red pen mama February 26, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I <3 pachina! Those excuses just prove is brilliant.

    My girls have not discovered the love of the nude, although we do have all pajama mornings, sockless nights, and the occasional pantless mealtimes.

    I doubt I need to say this (haven't read the comments) but I don't think shame is part of her world view, or your world view of her nudity. I think she knows that you're worried about her being cold or peeing on the couch.


    kittenpie February 26, 2009 at 10:20 am

    My sister was a total nudist, and Pumpkinpie sometimes like to doff her clothes, but much as I wonder if it’s a problem, we have an underwear rule because, simply put, she doesn’t always wipe as well as one would like before her bum is put on the surniture. Which, you know, yuck.

    Anonymous February 26, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Oh my gosh – I usually don’t comment, but I had to say how adorable and sweet I thought this post was. She is such a little sprite! My daughter likes to be naked too and I have to say there is nothing cuter than toddler bum!

    Paula February 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Cute post! But, a pachina…? Awesome!
    Good luck and hope there aren’t any accidents on the couch…or anywhere else in the house!

    Ally B February 26, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Take pictures… they could come in handy when she brings home her first crush.

    Natasha February 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Lulu is three and strips all the time, too. And shakes her bum around and asks us to look at her pretty bum. It’s only because she’s three and not 23 that we don’t ground her. Because that’s not socially appropriate, you know.

    Christina February 27, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Cordy has never given thought to clothing. We picked out her clothes, put them on her, and there they stayed until we removed them. She still doesn’t care what she wears, and only recently has she started to remove her own clothing when prompted.

    Mira, on the other hand, is at 21 months a complete nudist. She spends her days half-naked or more. I would happily let her run naked, but she’s not even 2 and certainly not potty trained. I’m already tired of washing crib sheets each morning when I come in to find her diaper off and a wet crib.

    Once she’s potty trained – she can run naked as much as she wants, lol.

    Tubo Family February 28, 2009 at 1:35 am

    For myself, I'm with Mimi.

    For my husband, he is ok with nudity but extremely squeamish about body fluids so he wants bums of young children covered when he's home. And although I'd like to think that I'm all about celebrating the human body, I made a no naked nursing/eating policy when my first born son was a young toddler and one sensual pleasure was always accompanied by another and the hands switching back & forth–eww! Guess I'm squeamish too.

    Jill March 1, 2009 at 12:07 am

    My eldest is 4.5 and still enjoys being naked at home, although it is with less and less frequency as he gets older. Between about 1.5 to 3.5, you couldn’t keep clothes on this kid for anything. Visitors got used to seeing a naked toddler scampering about. Soon, though, it became more creepy than cute, and we started instilling a “underwear for company” rule. He is starting to become more naturally conscious of his body now, which saddens me a little. But I have another little nudist who at six months old is already following in his brother’s footsteps!

    'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why! March 5, 2009 at 3:38 am

    I have an almost 8 year old that spend as much time as possible in his tighty-whiteys. He’d probably go buff but for the fear that the dogs would “bite his ding-dong off”. The almost 3 year old spent all of last summer nekkid in the yard, riding his car, swimming in his pool, visiting the neighbor kids (same age group). Curious to see how that goes this year, he’s become a fan of changing clothes 20 times a day now.

    As for me and DH, we both sleep nude.

    Anonymous March 10, 2009 at 10:24 am

    My daughter (4) is right there with your daughter, LOL!!!

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