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This Is Why Claudia Winkleman Being Naked In Front Of Her Kids Is Important

© Getty Images

As Claudia comes under fire for revealing she regularly walks around naked at home, model and body positivity activist Charli Howard explains why 'children need to see more naked bodies'...

Claudia Winkleman has come under fire after revealing that she regularly walks around naked in front of her three children. 'Under fire from who?!', I hear you scream, well, from the abundance of Twitter trolls that see nudity as inherently sexual.

The backlash began yesterday evening, when in a podcast for Sali Hughes Beauty, Claudia said 'I’m not inhibited...My parents were always naked. I’m married to a Danish man, he’s never put his clothes on.'

'Everyone is naked,' she continued, 'Let's all have lunch. Let’s take our clothes off first. I've made a fish pie. The 15-year-old is appalled but the whole point about mums is that they are meant to be embarrassing.'

Almost instantly, comments surfaced online calling her 'weird' and 'inappropriate'...

At a time when we're trying to teach young people to embrace their bodies, that nudity does not automatically indicate sexual desires and that your self-respect is not tied to how much clothing you wear, it is completely irresponsible to insinuate Claudia's choice is anything but normal.

And for model Charli Howard, 25, who believes body confidence starts with embracing nudity, it's integral to tackle the eating disorder epidemic we're currently facing as admissions have doubled in six years. Here, she explains how the nudephobic culture in the UK is damaging our children...

I grew up in Germany, where I saw more naked bodies than I’ve had hot dinners. Topless women sunbathing in the park, naked women on billboards, breastfeeding mothers in cafes. One of my German friends even had a painting in her parents’ living room of them having sex. At seven,

I was quite aware of the difference between a sexual nude image and a non-sexual one, but I didn’t cover my eyes or feel ashamed for having seen nudity. It was normal. More than that, it was glorious – women of all shapes and sizes appeared in the media, their beautiful and diverse body shapes celebrated. I didn’t realise how much I needed to see these images in my developing years.

Because when we came back to the UK for holidays (my parents are English), nudity became a problem again. It went from being everywhere in my life to nowhere; from normal to inappropriate. Adverts like Dove’s Real Women – which launched in 2004 when I was 12 – were hailed as ‘revolutionary’ for showing unretouched women of varying sizes, yet Sophie Dahl’s infamous YSL Opium advert had been banned just a few years before. Even as a child, I couldn’t help thinking: what was the fuss about?

I believe that our fear of skin is getting in the way of children developing a positive body image. There is a prudishness within British society that goes beyond our clichéd ‘no sex please’ attitude. Without more nudity in our everyday lives, it will continue to damage our children’s feelings about their bodies. Children should be exposed to nude bodies of all shapes and sizes, without the feeling of shame, confusion or instant association with sex. It’s time as a society we shed our clothes and our inhibitions to embrace bodies in all their beauty and glory –flaws and all.

I am aware that, in this climate – with high-profile fashion photographers and Hollywood producers and directors being accused of sexual assault – this statement is provocative. So why, right now, am I arguing for nudity? We all know that pressure on girls and boys starts well before teenage years. And with a teenage anxiety crisis on our hands (the UK buys 22% of the world’s Xanax online, with much of it ending up in the hands of school kids), I feel that one way to handle this is to build body confidence early. So, before their bodies develop, kids should be regularly exposed to nakedness.

I’m not talking about pornographic images or even glamour shots – just parents walking around naked at home, or advertising authorities allowing more breasts and bare skin in commercial campaigns. I don’t make this argument lightly. As a model who has battled with eating disorders and was told to lose weight as a size six, I’m aware of the need to showcase responsible body sizes. I run a campaign with my charity, the All Woman Project, to collaborate with fashion brands and produce unretouched images of women – because I believe we should be teaching young girls that real skin and real bodies are beautiful. I know that we can’t stop our children seeing pictures that are airbrushed but, following my own battle with body issues, I now stay clear of FaceTune and body-editing apps when posting on Instagram. Because real skin is inspiring.

Despite all the body positive movements celebrating ‘real beauty’, we are still scared of showing more of it. Sometimes all it takes is one negative comment from a mother, hiding her thighs on a summer holiday, to destroy a girl’s relationship with her body forever. If their mums are too scared to show their bodies because of a ‘flaw’, what kind of message does that send?

That’s not to mention the boys. They too feel body pressure, but worryingly, they’re watching porn younger and younger, growing up viewing female bodies as: big boobed, totally hairless, contoured-to- perfection – and often degraded. Are these women the only types of female bodies we want boys to see? Or should we impress on them that body hair, cellulite and stretch marks are beautiful, too?

© Rafael Clemente

Click through to see more inspirational women on Instagram changing the way we view the world...

I gained this opinion the hard way. It started with a Page 3 model – Caprice, to be precise. A visiting house guest had left a copy of the Daily Star on the kitchen table, and I became awe-struck by this beautiful, booby, smiley blonde lying in front of me. I cut this beautiful princess out, dreaming that one day, I might have boobs as great as that. I didn’t view the picture sexually, but with curiosity, like most kids do. That was until my dad found it.

According to him, it wasn’t appropriate to look at such pictures. He let me keep the photo of her face, as long as I cut her body off from the neck down. Breasts were suddenly very private things and I shouldn’t be looking at them. These British attitudes made me feel strange about my developing body, leading to anxieties towards sex. It wasn’t naked images I’d seen in Germany that made me ashamed and anxious. It was the response I had from adult Brits that left me confused – eyes being covered by adults when I saw a nude image. Why were my German friends comfortable with their bodies, but now I felt shame? It took me a long time to feel comfortable seeing my body naked – had I seen more nude, diverse bodies in the UK, I would’ve viewed my body more positively.

Seeing naked bodies is a good thing. It teaches children that bodies are beautiful, flaws and all; that women aren’t freaks because they don’t look like models. It also teaches children about boundaries, that they should respect their bodies and other people’s. I’m not saying you have to walk out of the house with your bits flapping about, or flashing your genitalia. But even outside our homes, you don’t have to hide your ‘bumpy upper arms’ underneath cardigans. Crop tops don’t need to be limited to people under 20 with flat tummies. You don’t need to wear trousers on a summer’s day because you happen to have a bit of cellulite. Showcase your body with pride – because, after all, how can you expect younger generations to love their bodies if you can’t bear to flaunt yours?