Published by PaintingChef on 13 Nov 2013 at 05:02 pm
So… I have a daughter. I have a daughter until at least February and then, who knows. She is three. But at some point, she will be thirteen. And sixteen. And eighteen and twenty-three and on and on and on. At all those ages, barring some significant event, she will be the owner of a vagina and it has become clear to me that someone early on has put some crazy in her head.
Here is what is weighing heavily on me right now. At no point in time did it ever occur to me that she was already forming opinions and impressions about her own body. But the other night during her bath, she referred to her vagina as a “cushy” and said it was ugly and yucky. I was speechless. Heartbroken. FURIOUS! Who told her that?? How do I address that? Where do I start? It never occurred to me to call it anything other than a vagina but as I jogged my memory, I recalled my mother using the word “tutu” as some point very early on. It was quickly replaced by the proper name once I was able to form the word.
My three year old is unable to pronounce vagina. I know. I tried. But calling it a “cushy” brings to mind the word “coochie” which I find incredibly crass and so I nipped that shit in the bud (bad pun) immediately. We agreed on tutu for the time being however I also introduced her to the word vagina, told her that was the proper name and that it was not a bad word at all and when she felt comfortable saying it, she should.
Next step? It is ugly. And yucky. I corrected that too. It is not ugly. Or dirty or anything to be ashamed of. It is part of who you are and it is a special and beautiful part of your body, my dear. Love it, care for it and keep it happy and healthy. (But the reason it hurts sometimes is because it is tired. Let her sleep honey. Hands out of your pants please.)**
But this sent me down a thought spiral. Why do we even insist on cute little names? Or worse, vulgar, disgusting ones? Why are we teaching our daughters that their vagina is something ugly or shameful? It’s no wonder that so many girls grow up with body image problems. We are drilling into their heads from an early age that they carry with them something we can’t even name. That one of the parts of their body that makes them a girl (and eventually, a woman) is something so shameful that we can’t even talk about it.
Why have we made vaginas so terrifying? They are beautiful and neat in their perfect little packages. And when we take care of them, they take care of us right back. They bring life into the world. They give us pleasure. Those are both GOOD things! And yes. She’s three. Obviously we aren’t talking about “where do babies come from” and bath time isn’t a lecture on the beauty of the female orgasm. But it is a chance to plant the seed that her body isn’t something to be ashamed of.
So I propose we bring back the vagina! Let’s get rid of nicknames, slang and degrading terms. Let’s teach our daughters to love their bodies, to be proud of them and to care for and respect them. Yes. I’ve been a mother for all of 2 ½ months. But this one? I never saw this one coming. It never occurred to me. And I think I’m probably guilty as well. I know for a fact that I’ve used the terms “lady business” and “lady garden” more times than I can possibly count and I’m sure I thought I was being cute or clever.
Thoughts? What say you, dear internet? Am I crazy or is perhaps the Vagina Embargo the root of more problems/issues than we imagined?
** And yes. I know this for sure. She has been to the doctor. She does not have a UTI or anything that requires medical attention. She has good old run of the mill irritation. Chafing, if you will. From… exploration. Which I am all in favor of at some point. Just maybe… not at the dinner table?