Thursday, February 2, 2012

When The Pants Come Off

I should mention the things I'm reading more often, especially when I both like what I've read and I know the author. This morning it was an article by a college chum, Chris, on male and female body issues and a call for more nudity. Sign me up! Oh wait, as anyone who has ever had the (mis)fortune of living with or near me knows, I've already signed up.

Now, I may have an unfair advantage in that I grew up in a clothing-optional or, put a more accurate way, too-lazy-to-really-dress household. Some of this naturally arose from 4 people living in 650 square feet with one bathroom, but some of it was probably latent and subconscious hippiedom on the part of my not-that-hippie parents. We weren't full on nudists, we were just more of a "hey, is it ok if we wear our underwear to dinner?" kind of group. Other people tell me that's kind of gross.

Whatever long-lasting psychological damage I feel sure my more modest brother suffered from this, I do know that nudity and shame were never a thing we had in our house. It just wouldn't have occurred to us. Gym class? Not a problem. Those bizarre open changing rooms in some department stores? Ditto. I remember being shocked at the grown-up gym one time when I had been working out with a female coworker who went through all kinds of frightful contortions to cover herself after showering and wondering how that became her normal; similarly I may have inappropriately busted out laughing at college once upon discovering that a couple I knew slept in full-on clothing together. It's one of those things where what you grow up with really does become default normal. And just like the woman's side of the bed is the left side, the proper attire for sleep is nothing. It's just what I knew.

Now I can't claim all of the benefits Chris has discovered from an embracing of less clothing - I still weigh myself quite a bit (and can someone explain how the scale went up .2 pounds this morning from the time I woke up through the time I had finished my daily coffee and what comes after coffee?) and I still worry about how this or that part looks, but the root causes of my here-and-there body dissatisfactions don't come from a place of shame and for that I am eternally thankful to good old not-quite-dressed mom and dad.

It is, however, worth noting that the brain still edits. For example: would I be comfortable meeting up with Chris and his family at a clothing-optional mini-golf course? I honestly don't know. The stubborn, defensive part of me says, "of course! Naked mini-golf with open-minded friends is what all normal people should do!" But nudity in front of family or strangers is still far more comfortable than nudity in front of people one actually knows. However attired we were for family dinners, when we had friends for dinner, it wasn't like my dad actually showed up in his briefs, or encouraged his guests to do likewise.

So I'm going to think about this, Chris, because I like to be proven a hypocrite as often as possible (and lest anyone reading this gets the wrong idea, no naked mini-golf has been proposed). In the meantime, though, if any of you come over and want to take off your pants, we're chill with that!


  1. Interesting. I think I kind of walk the middle line on this one :)

  2. I came from a family that had no problem walking around in our underwear...we didn't always close the bathroom door..and as kids if I was in the bathtub and someone had to use the bathroom, I was cool with that even if it was my dad (we had no shower curtain either)

    I thought all families were like this until my first boyfriend was over one night and my dad went into the bathroom and didn't close the door. I thought my boyfriend was going to have a coronary. He told me it was disgusting. I can sort of understand his thinking as the bathroom in his house opened into the kitchen. That may be a bit disgusting to be eating dinner while someone was taking care of business in the other room....

    It's funny though as my parents were not very liberal in their thinking at all. Any talk of sex, wait a minute that never happened. All I learned about sex came from my friends and above mentioned first boyfriend (who later became my first husband so of course that made it all ok).

    Sadly through the years I lost the innocence of walking around in my underwear and became that person who contorts to get dressed in a public changing room. I still don't totally understand how that happened and I hate that it did.

    But oh well, I have fond memories of walking past the bathroom and seeing my father sitting in there reading the newspaper and that's ok with me.