Image credit <here>
DD1 asked me this last night, sitting on the toilet, waiting to take her shower.
Me: Huh, what makes you ask that, honey?
DD1: Because other girls at school are skinny. (Makes motions with her hands). Like, their tummies look different. (Slides hands over her tummy).
Me: Well, I don’t think you’re fat, and Dr. S (our pediatrician) doesn’t think you’re fat.
DD1: Oh. Okay. (Off the toilet, getting into the shower).
Me: You know, sweetie, lots of people say what girls should look like, but the most important thing is to be healthy. Like, you can dance at your dance classes today, right?
Me: And you can swim, right?
DD1: Yep! I’m a good swimmer now!
Me: And you can ride your bike?
Me: So you know, some girls in this world, they can’t swim or have never learned to ride bikes in their whole lives!
DD1: Really? (eyes wide open)
Me: Yep, it’s pretty lucky we can do the things we do. Like I think it’s great you can swim all the way to the bottom of the pool and hold your breath under water.
DD1: Me, too!
Me: So you know, it’s really important to focus on what your body can DO, rather than what you look like. Because as long as your body can do the things like swimming and riding bikes and your dance classes, then you’re doing pretty good. Because you’re healthy and beautiful just the way you are.
Me: (please god let this message take root and grow. Love our bodies for what they can do).
DD1 is in fourth grade. And I think she’s been having some questions about her body for this past year. You may have seen the conversation about S E X I posted a while back. I bought one book for her already—the American Girls series, The Care and Keeping of You, which she has read from cover to cover. I like that DD1 has the words for what is happening to her (i.e. we are stage 2 of breast development! She announced to her BFF at a sleepover, when her BFF was hesitant to take a shower together like they used to in 2nd and 3rd grade at other sleepovers. But once they had the words, her BFF was like, “oh, okay!” and off they went like they always had. Her BFF’s mom was happy to see them feel less awkward and more normal, too). Let’s hope having the words make all these body changes less mysterious and more normal. (at least, that’s the hope!)
And since she did ask me about the S E X, The Care and Keeping of You 2, is on its way as I type this.
I don’t know how to teach my baby girl to love herself, when I also struggle with body issues. Hopefully, she will always come to me when she has questions like she did last night. Hopefully, I will be patient and open to hearing her questions and help her feel like it’s okay to ask them.