Friday, January 30, 2009

Comfy in Your Own Skin

I think it's fairly universal that young children LOVE to run around naked. Whether it's zipping around the house while still wet after a bath, or just stripping off your clothes at the dinner table right when it's time to eat (hence my motto #2)--both of which have happened at our house on more than one occasion--kids must feel free and have fun when they're in the buff. What makes it even more entertaining is that the probability of the doorbell or phone ringing, given that a child is naked in the house, is better than 50-50. All I can do is laugh (and then try to catch the child as they fly by); we'll blame it on Adam & Eve.

I've said before that parents are a child's most important teacher. No, I'm not accusing you of being a nudist or encouraging your children to be nudists. Rather, all good teachers learn from their "students." If we look at this behavior a little more closely, I think there's an important lesson here.

(Ableit in a slightly twisted sort of way,) the fact that children like to run around the house naked teaches us that we should be more comfortable with who we are as individuals. I'd bet that if you surveyed 100 adults for reasons why they don't cruise around naked, "I don't like the way I look" would be in the top 5, if not the top 3. Even more generally speaking, if you surveyed the same 100 people about what they don't like about themselves, "my appearance" would be a contender for the top spot.

Feeling self-conscious about our appearance is a learned behavior. Young children aren't preoccupied and burdened with the way they look--if they were, they wouldn't run around naked, they'd comb their hair before going outside, and we'd see advertising for children's makeup, skincare products, etc. In fact, (most) children must like the way they look--that's why babies smile and coo at themselves in the mirror.

The issue of appearance transcends the individual, and has important implications on cultural, racial, and gender issues. Young children are proof that racism (or sexism or whatever -ism you can think of), just like feeling self-conscious, is also a learned behavior. My boys love to play and interact with other children, whether they are boys or girls, tall or short, white or black, orange or purple. I've never heard a young child say, "I'm not going to play with Johnny because his skin is striped, he has a funny-looking birth mark, and he wears glasses." Any child who makes such comments has heard it from SOMEWHERE (their parents, tv, etc). Kids don't perceive other children as being any "different" from them. Kids are kids, and that's the only common bond they need.

And so, I challenge you to be more "comfy in your own skin." We all have "flaws" and things we don't like about ourselves, whether that be physical features or personality traits. Be yourself (so long as that's legal and moral), and strive to enact positive change for the habits that could make you a better, healthier person. Anyone who would judge you for who you are isn't a true friend. Just please don't run around the house naked, or if you do, don't tell us about it.

Have a good weekend,

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1 comment:

  1. Good insight! We can always learn from our children!