I just read an article by Harmony Hobbs on Scary Mommy about self confidence, and I wasn’t at all surprised at the complexity of body confidence in women. There is a ton of shame, we have to be careful not to shame, confidence is good but it can also be tricky, God help you if you are not fat and attractive then you have zero space within the conversation to have any doubt or insecurities. It’s tricky and truthfully it sucks.
As pointed out in the article, men, in general, don’t seem to be having the same conversation. Hmmm…..
I speak to both my son and my daughter, when asked, about their bodies and my body in the same way. The conversation often goes something like this:
“Mommy, why does your _(insert your favorite ridiculously inappropriate question here)?”
My answer to either child is basically the same: “Well, that’s because…and hey, Mommy looks great! I’m 41 years old and my body housed and fed two beautiful babies!”
Both kids see me half dressed regularly, I express no body shame, and I tell them both the same body messages:
- Our bodies are beautiful things
- Not all bodies look the same and that’s okay
- The important thing is that we are healthy and strong
- Yes, it’s okay to touch your own body
- Yes, some parts tickle and that’s totally fine, too
Despite my best efforts, a huge disparity exists. Boys and girls don’t see their bodies in the same way.
This weekend after I bathed my son I left him in his room to get dressed. He’s 4, well old enough to dress himself but I can’t leave him to the task for too long. If I don’t follow-up he will ultimately remain naked for longer than humanly necessary. I checked in on him to find that he had dug out a plastic baton from his toy chest. It’s a clear baton, filled with sparkly green streamers and had long, multi-colored streamers dangling from each end. Either he or his sister had caught it from a parade and I should have thrown it out weeks ago. He was slamming the baton down on his bed as if he was chopping wood. Naked chopping, of course.
I gently reminded him, “Come on, Boogie, it’s time to get dressed.”
I could hear more chopping. Then it stopped. Then he yelled for me, “Mommy! Mooom-may! Come see!”
I walked into his room to find him on the floor with the baton across his naked lap. Streamers draped all across his nether region. I’ve never seen him look quite so proud.
Holy shit. My son just decorated his penis.
Yep. That’s exactly what he did and he was very happy about. How, in that moment I wondered, how is it that he is expressing such pelvic pride, yet I have a hard time getting my daughter to utter the word v-a-g-i-n-a? Where does this male genital entitlement come from?
It’s never crossed to my mind to decorate my vagina. I doubt most women I know consider it either. Sure, several years ago there was that weirdo fad where women were bedazzling it with gems and glitter but let’s be honest, no one really was happy about that. There was zero empowerment, it was just plain stupid.
I have realized, raising both a son and daughter, that it’s probably genetic. I think men, in general are born with a sense of body confidence that is embedded in their DNA. I’m sure there is an anthropologist out there who can tell me the historical significance of why men have been decorating their dicks since the dawn of time.
Frankly, I don’t care.
So men may be born with it, but ladies, it doesn’t mean that we can’t claim it. Just because they have it, doesn’t mean that we can’t. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. The truth is, when I tell my children that their mommy looks great, I actually mean it. Look, nothing is perfect, no body is perfect, and I have zero expectation to be perfect but, I wake up every day, healthy and strong. I have two legs that are strong enough to walk to the ends of the earth if my children needed me to. I have two arms that can wrap around my family and show love and strength like nobody’s business. I have a brain that (usually) works and I’m smart enough to know when I should apologize to my children.
So, would it be nice if my breasts looked at 41 like they did when I was 21? Sure. Would it be nice if I didn’t have weird stretch marks on my upper inner thighs? Frankly, it would be nice just have an understanding as to why I have them there in the first place. Whatever! It doesn’t matter because this is the body I have. Nothing is changing. So instead of staring at the problem I claim my confidence.
Claim it ladies! Confidence is yours to claim. Remember, what other people think of you is none of your business, anyway. And look, if you feel like you need a few sparkly streamers to give your confidence a boost, I have a baton you can borrow. Apparently it works wonders.
Don’t forget about Listen To Your Mother! The show is filled with a terrific cast of amazing women. Hope to see you there!