Mothering Girls Lesson 2: The End of Naked


I have to give my husband all the credit (mark this on the calendar). The kid was standing in just her underwear “bowling” on the Kinect with him when she asked if they could upload the video of their progress to Facebook.

His answer came before mine. “No,” he said. “You’re not wearing a shirt.”

This was the day I saw coming and dreaded because I remember my own. My mother told me I couldn’t go shirtless on a hot summer day, and I hid behind the couch, confused, scared. What had I done? My brother was running across the living room — shirtless, as usual — and here I was cowering in the dark tunnel between couch and wall.

This is something only parents of girls experience. The day you tell your daughter that — despite total and complete lack of anything even remotely resembling a boob — she has to pack it away. Because people will talk.

Remember that? People will talk? That was the excuse my parents used for me not spending too much time alone with my best guy friend. His parents spent every weekend away. We had the house to ourselves. Which we used to make tofu tacos, watch crappy movies, and paint each other’s toenails. He’s gay. But I digress.

Even in 2011, I have to care. I’m uneasy already about putting photos of my shirtless daughter on the Internet. Silly, I’d think. I’m that parent who scoffs at the moms who won’t let their kids show up AT ALL on the Internet. You do realize, don’t you that a pedophile can just as easily take a picture on a public street? Legally? They can take it home, print it out, get their jollies off, and there’s nary a thing we parents can do about it.

And yet, this is different. This isn’t about fear. This is about teaching.

That teachable moment. Gag.

I hate those in theory, but I’m practical.

The truth is, girls DO meet that moment when shirtless is no longer socially acceptable, when you’re not just a kid but a girl, and people will make you feel LESS because of your chest and how you share it with the world.

And so it breaks my heart, but we’re at that point. She’s 6. And she must wear a shirt when she goes out to scooter around our driveaway. I won’t put the video of her playing Kinect without a top on my Facebook. I will ask her to be “appropriate.”

But I will mourn that loss of innocence with her.

How about you? Do you remember when you had to stop going shirt-free?



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  1. I remember it. My parents didn't stop me though – I did. My brother & I were playing in the yard one hot summer day. As I recall, we were building a fort beneath an apple tree. The next door neighbour's kid came over to play. It was hot. The boys stripped off their shirts, but when I also went to do the same, as I always had done in the past, the next door neighbour started to laugh and makefun of me and my "boobs" (I was 6). That was completely the end of it & the exact moment I started to be worried about all that kind of thing.

  2. this is a very interesting topic. i have 2 daughters. my oldest is 3 so i don't know yet where i stand on it. i don't post pictures of them below the shoulders without a shirt on. i had a lewd comment posted on a youtube video (that i thought was set to private) of her when she was about 8 months old in the tub, laughing. getting to my point…..i wonder if this is when the sexualization begins that makes people so weird about breast feeding? i know. that's a leap. but the reason i say it is, i am living in europe currently and kids run around naked all the time. in public. they pee on things in public. they play in water parks and beaches and all types of places with no top. and i breastfed my first in america and had comments, looks, scoffs, etc. now, nursing my 4 month old here, people come up and rub her hand. which is on my breast. they tell me "good job", they talk to me like a human being, while i am nursing. and so i wonder if we put too much emphasis on sexualizing our children before they really need to be (if they need to be at all). totally just speculating. =) i appreciate that there are parents who protect their children. i am one of them, for sure. i just wonder if maybe we are doing it to their detriment?

  3. Why be happy when you can be normal, right?

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