She reaches out and touches my bare breast. She grabs my nipple.
I’m not a Naked Person but I haven’t made an effort to cover myself in front of my daughter. Bodies are bodies and there’s nothing shameful about them and there is value in her seeing a normal woman’s human form, even if she only remembers it subconsciously. She’s only two. I don’t go out of my way to cover up when I step out of the shower or to hide myself from her when I’m getting dressed.
This time, I was leaning over her toddler bed in my pajamas, wearing an oversized pair of flannel pants and a loose-fitting tank top that sagged open as I bent over to tuck her in.
“Those are mom’s boobs. Her breasts”.
She squeezed. Then she looked down at her own chest before turning her face towards mine, “But, I don’t have that”.
She doesn’t ask a question with her mouth, but she is searching me for answers with her eyes.
Different responses went through my head, each immediately followed up with reasons why the response would make me the worst mom ever, causing my child to develop body image issues at the age of two.
Dont worry, someday you will. No, no, no. That makes it seem like something to aspire to.
Someday yours will be bigger. No, no, no. That emphasizes that bigger is better and implies that what she has now isn’t good enough.
When you’re older yours will be like Mama’s. No, no, no, I have no clue what hers will be like. My family and Mr. Grouch’s family have VERY different body types. Very different boobs. I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of boobs my girls will have.
Women have bigger boobs, kids have smaller ones. No, no, no, that implies bigger boobs make one more womanly. There are a million ways to be “womanly”.
Finally something hit me. Something true.
“That’s because everyone’s are different. Yours are yours”.
And it’s true, isn’t it? I marveled at the truthful simplicity of the words that came out of my mouth. We are who we are and those of us who are happiest with ourselves are the ones who accept this.
Whether taught or innate, we compare ourselves to others. How many times have we women looked at another and had the feeling that we weren’t pretty enough, sexy enough, strong enough, good enough? How many times have we doubted our worth or our woman-ness, shrugging off compliments or praise with a “But, mine don’t look like that!”. What a waste of energy that is. Comparison about bodies serves no purpose. It doesn’t do us any good to wish to be someone we’re not, in any way, especially physically.
The fact of the matter is, we are who we are and we aren’t going to become anybody else. To be happy with ourselves we must be grateful for what we have, embrace it, and treat it right.
Having this conversation with my daughter made me reflect on why women tend to become so much happier in their thirties. Their bodies have finally stopped wildly changing. There’s been some time to become acclimated with who they are, physically and emotionally. The ones who are taught from the beginning that bodies are nothing more than the physical housing of our being, and that beauty is more than skin deep, begin the path of self-acceptance and self-appreciation. Those who are not fight a losing battle against other women, against time and gravity, and ultimately against themselves.
My daughter smiled and wrapped her arms around herself, giving her chest a split-second hug before reaching for a book and asking me to read her a bedtime story. She was satisfied with the answer. As we all should be.
10 thoughts on ““But, Mine Don’t Look Like That!” Responding to My Daughter’s Body Image Questions”
Well, I love the hell out of this. Truly. Way to answer, Mama.
That was a great answer. I never would have come up with that.
It was the perfect thing to say. This is a difficult subject for me altogether since I “over” developed at age 11 and ended up having reduction surgery by 17. Really truly a nightmare that I went through until that point. You’re helping your daughter so much!!
What a great way to respond to your daughter.
Good post, and a great answer to your daughter’s question.
Best answer ever! Sooooo, do you want to come live with me and answer my 5yo daughters CONSTANT questioning? I think you are better equipped. lol
I know nothing about 5 year olds! I’ll be using you to help guide me then!
Absolutely loved this post!
I read this post a few weeks ago and literally have thought about it almost once a day since. Just wanted to come back and tell you what a wise response you came up with, and how much I will be relying on this wisdom when my daughter is asking me the same kinds of questions. Have you thought about submitting this to one of the parenting sites like Scary Mommy? I feel like so many moms would appreciate reading this.
Thank you so much. I haven’t submitted it anywhere bit maybe I will 🙂