The Parent Trap: Is Being Nude in Front of Your Kids Free Expression or Overexposure?

Illustration for article titled The Parent Trap: Is Being Nude in Front of Your Kids Free Expression or Overexposure?
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Every mother does motherhood differently. There isn’t one way to do it right, but in the internet-run world in which we now live, apparently there are many ways to do it wrong. You know, because the internet is filled with judges and juries.


Those ladies and gentlemen of the jury recently gathered in order to pass judgment on the motherhood of Love & Hip Hop: New York star (and ex-member of an explosive love triangle with soon-to-be ex-husband Peter Gunz) Amina Buddafly. The crime? On Mother’s Day, the musician took to Instagram to post a picture of her very hot-mommy self doing a little naked yoga as her youngest daughter looked on. You know, no big deal:

But Instagram had decidedly mixed emotions about the “Mommy and Me” moment: One commenter suggested that child-protective services needed to be called, while another called Amina “just another Love and Hip Hop THOT.” Others asked where her children’s father was (Amina filed for divorce from Peter Gunz earlier this year).

Full disclosure (from Maiysha): I remember, when I was a small child, each of my parents being relatively casual about their own nudity around me, likely because a) it was the ’70s and b) they were each acting as a single parent when I was in their care, meaning that if there was a choice between being naked and leaving a pint-sized me unsupervised, nakedness generally won. (Sidenote: My mother just confirmed it was mostly the latter.)

There was no abuse taking place, and as we all matured, doors were closed and discretion used. And while a more-conservatively-brought-up friend or two has occasionally balked at the concept of my “naked upbringing” (hardly), it’s rarely even worth the shrug to me.

This is probably why I’m not here for mommy-shaming Amina or calling her conduct, while perhaps exhibitionist, abusive. I firmly believe that body positivity should extend to everyone—and can even understand Amina’s desire to show off a body she clearly puts work into. Frankly, a naked headstand doesn’t seem tantamount to child abuse. Is nudity itself something to be ashamed of?


I think not. But that said, we’re living in the age of Instagram, where oversharing is the norm and where what we’re seeing often inspires the question of why we’re seeing it. And while plenty of contemporary media-savvy moms incorporate their kids into their branding—and plenty of others promote nudity as a form of freedom on- and offline, at this stage in the game, I think we all know the difference between a mom teaching her kids to love their bodies, and kids being adjacent to Mom’s self-promotion.


This is the part where I’m forced to mention that Amina Buddafly just dropped her latest album, aptly titled, Mother. Obviously, this throws more than a little shade onto Amina’s claims of simply “loving to be naked.” But just to be sure I wasn’t tripping, I consulted with our resident Judge of Characters, Danielle Young, who said:

It’s worth mentioning that Amina, while a reality-TV star, is the level of artist who needs to generate a buzz for herself before putting anything out. Whether she posted the photo to share her body, her love of being a healthy mother, or to cause conversations about her so that she can slip her album into said convos, I have no idea. But what I do know is that Amina isn’t ignorant to the stir the photo would cause once posted.


Aye, there’s the rub: Does it teach your child body positivity to do it for the ’gram? Let’s ask Kim and North:


OK, maybe not Kim. But as Danielle diplomatically noted:

Beyond her questionable marketing tactics, I’m left wondering: Why are people so bothered by the idea of a mother showing off her sexuality? A toddler in a room with her naked mother isn’t sexual.


But is it normal? Unsurprisingly, what little we could find online to support the idea that nudity promotes body positivity were from nonblack outlets, and if the two black parents interviewed in this video by Scary Mommy are any indication, it may simply be that black families tend to be a bit more traditional in that regard.

However, we also weren’t able to find any evidence that, absent any abusive behavior, there is any danger in being nude in front of your children. In fact, a pediatrician asked to comment on the subject by Rachael Ray had this to say: “It’s bad if it makes you or your child uncomfortable, and if it makes neither of you uncomfortable, not so bad.”


So, there you have it: When it comes to nudity in your family, do you. But most of all, let your children’s comfort be your guide. Judges gon’ judge, and the internet has made everyone a critic. But in a world where black bodies—and black women’s bodies, in particular—are still continuously and oppressively policed, are these really the hills we should be dying on?

And as Danielle reminds us, there are far bigger mommy issues to be concerned about—like who raised Bhad Bhabie or Lil Tay!

Pretty. Witty. Girly. Worldly. One who likes to party, but comes home early. I got stories to tell. Prince (yes, that Prince) called me excellence. Achievement unlocked.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?


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i guess it all boils down to being intentional? one can promote and teach body positivity without nudity? like what’s wrong with kids seeing mommy’s post-baby body (no “snapback”) in a swimsuit at the beach or in shorts or a midriff top w/out concern for stretch marks, cellulite or whatever?

i guess my real hope is that people take their kids’ comfort into consideration after reading this... i know too many parents who are like “i’m grown. this my house. if you don’t like me being naked, get out!”

in a bit of research about adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, i have read about people who experienced a lot of shame and confusion (especially during puberty & beyond) because their mothers or parents walked around the house naked. yeah, sometimes it was deliberate and incestuous or abusive/manipulative.

but maybe in better parenting situations it’s different? or when parents dialogue about bodies? idk.