In a box called "Celebrity Nudity Exposed!" in the July 19 issue of Us Weekly, singer Christina Aguilera says she and her husband "do everything naked" on Sundays in their home, and supermodel Heidi Klum says she even bares all in front of her mom and dad. ("I grew up in a very easygoing family," she says. "My parents were always naked.") And last November the actress Hilary Swank told Marie Claire she was in the all together around her boyfriend's 6-year-old son ("every morning he comes into the bedroom, and you're just nude"), and a few years ago, Britney Spears' bodyguard said she was unclothed at home, too.
Should you and your family follow in these celebrities' very bare footsteps? A few issues to consider before propagating nudity at home:
Research. Studies are few and far between. Bare-all proponents can cite a 1998 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that looked at 200 kids exposed to parental nudity at an early age. Researchers then assessed these kids at ages 17 or 18 for levels of self-acceptance, relations with others, antisocial and criminal behavior, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, quality of sexual relations and problems associated with sexual relations—and found no apparent harmful effects.
Culture. You don't live in a nudist colony. Even if your family believes in letting it all hang out, most others may find it inappropriate.
Misunderstandings. Remember Sue Miller's novel, The Good Mother? In the bestseller, mom Anna Dunlap gets into hot water after her beau lets her 3-year-old daughter see him take a shower.
Sexual overtones. In U.S. culture, even innocent nudity can raise questions. Historically, psychiatrists have written about whether kids exposed to parental nudity are victims of subtle sexual abuse. The theory, as noted in the 1998 study: it's traumatic because it leaves kids feeling powerless, because children may unfavorably compare their anatomy to their parents, and because it may intensify Oedipal desires.
Unexpected visitors. What if your neighbor knocks to borrow a cup of sugar, or the mailman needs you to sign for a package? Of course, you could always keep a robe by the front door. (Maybe the mailman factor is the reason Christina Aguilera has chosen Sundays to be her nude day?)
Age. As Slate noted during the Britney Spears bruhaha, a Stanford University study from the 1980s found U.S. kids develop a sense of modesty between the ages of 4 and 8.
Comfort. In the same "Celebrity Nudity Exposed!" box in Us Weekly, actor Alexander Skarsgard calls being naked "liberating." Of course, loose clothes and pajamas can feel liberating, too.
Golden rule. Would you want your kids to see another family nude? For obvious reasons, don't bare all around others. And remind your kids that even if they're sometimes clothes-free at home, they should cover up at friends' houses.
Sanitation. Don't forget the "ewww" factor. Would you want to sit on a couch where anyone else had a naked bottom?
Energy use. In the winter, you need to turn up the thermostat if you're bare. Layering up with sweaters is a greener, less expensive way to go.
Windows. Do you want to keep your blinds closed 24/7? If you plan to be in your birthday suit, you're going to need to. Otherwise, you can't blame peeping Toms.
Gossip. Your kids talk about you. Do you want it getting around the neighborhood that you're the nude family?
Kids' questions. Be prepared for awkward queries from kids and grandkids. "Why is your stomach so flabby?"
The fashion factor. Clothes cover up the flab—and they can be fun, too.