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Body Education

Posted Apr 19 2010 5:48am
I was sitting on the roof of my building with a friend, when a nine-year-old girl came up with her sitter. Her sitter wandered around and the girl approached us and began gabbing away in the hallmark style of a precocious nine-year-old girl. I forget how we arrived here, but the next thing you know, we're talking about pubic hair.

"I saw my mom naked once and she had hair down there!" she said in surprise.

"When you get older, you'll have hair down there, too," I replied.

"Ooh, that's gross. I have a little hair there now."

"It's just what happens to girls as they get older."

While I'm not sure this was the best way to handle the topic (and if the girl's mother would have even wanted me to respond), it made me consider how mothers are with their bodies and what tacit messages they send their daughters.

Truth be told, it surprised me that this girl had only seen her mother naked once. It made me think that her mother may be ashamed of her body, and that she was communicating to her daughter that a woman's body was something to be covered, not celebrated. Sure, we don't want our daughters parading naked around the block, but there's something to be said for them knowing and therefore fully accepting the female form. I can't help but wonder that if girls, from early on, witness their mothers' unabashed bodies (pubic hair and cellulite and bra-less breasts and all), they'll have fewer problems with body image later on.
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