Did you grow up in a nude house? Apologies if you now have an inappropriate mental picture of your parents and siblings naked. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re drawing a blank because you can’t recall ever seeing your parents without their clothes on. Nor your siblings – not since you became too big to have baths together anyway.
When assessing the nude attitude in your household, there are many nudity nuances to consider, from sleeping naked to streaking the short distance from shower to bedroom to surfing the net while sprawled on the lounge with a glass of wine. Some people garden nude. Others cook. Prepared a nude snack lately? Make sure it’s not a toastie.
Having asked the nude-house question a lot this week (I highly recommend it as an ice-breaker at your next social gathering), I’ve learned that the level of nudity you grew up with is your baseline for normal and you think everyone else is weird.
Generally, people who were raised in a nude house are perplexed by those who weren’t. “What’s the big deal?” they shrug. Meanwhile non-nudists are freaked out by the concept of Chez Naked and wince a lot when discussing it. “The idea of family nudity honestly makes me gag a little,” said one guy who grew up on a farm and told me that, “being naked in our house was like being covered in a swarm of bees; not advisable and highly uncomfortable. Never happened. I wouldn’t even take my shirt off on a hot day.”
Another emphatic response came from a 20 year old who still lives at home with her family including her grandmother. “Ever seen Nana naked?” I enquired and she nearly passed out. “In our house, public nudity is about as common as setting yourself on fire.” [bees? fires? what’s with the extreme analogies from the non-nudists?] “I’ve never seen my parents naked and I think the last time they saw me in the nuddy was age 10. Maybe that’s why I don’t ever really feel comfortable without clothes on. Who are these people that love sleeping naked? What if there’s a fire??”
“I’ve always wondered about families that ARE naked all the time around each other,” agrees Farm Boy. “You can’t do the dishes naked (hot water splashes). You can’t cook naked (oil splashes too) you definitely shouldn’t mow naked. Especially in built-up areas. And what’s stopping you from having your clothes on standby in the bathroom so you can get dressed after your shower without having to flop down the hall?”
A different view from a friend who grew up with a single-mother and insisted nudity was no big deal. “Doors didn’t have to be shut to get changed and if someone was in the shower, you could still brush your teeth at the sink. Same rules apply when I’m at home these days as an adult. But I haven’t lived with my Dad since I was 9 so it’s easier in an all-girl house.”
She insists the same principles apply with her girlfriends. “Do we walk around naked when we’re getting ready to go out? No, but being topless or in our underwear isn’t uncommon. It’s no different to being in your bathers.”
I wonder if living alone makes you more likely to be nude? Certainly, the more people in your house, the more complex it becomes.
Once when I met someone with a live-in au pair, the first thing I asked was, “but don’t you miss walking around naked?”. Sensibly, she replied, “How often do you actually walk around your house naked?”
Fair point. And interestingly, I’ve never asked that question when I meet people who live with their parents or a flatmate.
Having children can change your attitude to household nudity, especially as they grow older. At what age is it uncool for the kids to see Mum and Dad naked? And vice-versa? Is it a same-sex rule? Mothers and daughters can see each other nude and fathers and sons? Until when?
Puberty according to many.
“That’s when it just naturally felt right to start having boundaries about who sees what,” says a friend with two teenagers. I quizzed her more specifically and discovered that her kids haven’t seen her nude since they were small. “I’m not a prude but I was ready to take back some of that privacy you surrender with kids. My husband and daughter haven’t seen each other nude since she was about five and my son was comfortable being nude in front of us until puberty when it changed very suddenly. For years now we’ve all showered with the door closed and wear towels to and from the bathroom.”
Some people however, refuse to modify their nudity for others. One friend’s partner likes to be nude and he doesn’t care who sees him. Even the cleaner. “His philosophy is that it’s his house and he should be able to let it all hang out,” his wife tells me while rolling her eyes almost out of her head. Memo to self: never drop in to see friends without texting first.
Did you grow up in a nude house? How nude is your household now?