While getting Emma dressed for the day this morning, a funny thing happened that I cannot resist sharing here. I should preface this little story by saying that I breastfed both of my children until they were each 9 mos. old. With Emma's blossoming curiousity about the world coinciding with Nicholas' peak in feeding (at least 5-7 times a day), I knew it would be impossible to be discreet around my toddler's investigative stare. And frankly, I didn't see a reason to be. I'm a strong supporter of breastfeeding babies and found it to be one of the most natural things in the world. Why then would I invoke the ever-present taboo about breasts with my 2 year old daughter long before she will inevitably succumb to it through social pressure. Breastfeeding is natural. And what an absolutely amazing thing that a woman's body is capable of not only growing and giving birth to another human being, but can then nourish it for months on end as well. And if anything, I want my daughter to feel proud of her body and every magical thing it can do. So, I never felt bashful or ashamed of breastfeeding in the privacy of my home in front of my daughter. And as a result of so much exposure to adult breasts coupled with her ever-expanding fierce sense of independence, she naturally started to want some of her own.
So, this morning, as we were getting her dressed for the day, Emma stood in her room half dressed and proudly exclaimed, "Look at my boobies, mommy!" Now two things strike me about this exclamation. First of all, where did she learn the word, "boobies?" And second, why is she so anxious to show them off?!? After quelling any fears about her one day living at the Playboy mansion, proudly displaying her saline injected double D's and swinging around a steel pole in the "Grotto," I regained my composure and said, "Emma, you have a beautiful body. And you should be very proud of all that it can do. And someday, you will have 'boobies' like mommy when you get a little older." We then continued our morning routine, putting on a shirt, socks and shoes, and combing her hair. All the while, we chatted about needing to walk to the Wal-Mart nearby to buy some milk for breakfast (I know, the irony of needing milk in this situation). And again, I should preface my next comment by saying that my 2 year old, in her limited exposure with the world, already has a PROFOUND understanding of consumerism. She knows all about the "store" and how you "pay for it" when you take things to the register, etc.etc.etc. So it should have come as no surprise when she proudly exclaimed, "Mommy, we go get boobies at the store and pay for it!"
I swear, I almost peed myself laughing at the thought of buying breasts at the store, and at Wal-Mart no less. It almost came across as a cheap solution to plastic surgery. For those of us who can't afford the skill of surgeons featured on, "Dr. 90210," there is Wal-Mart, where you too can purchase a set of ta ta's for the low, low price of 119.98. Hey...does anyone feel a tv show coming on?
For now, Emma will have to be satisfied with what she has. But I can't help but wonder, is this the beginning of a lifetime riddled with societally imposed insecurity that women's bodies are never quite good enough? And is it so insideously ingrained in our culture that it sets in as early as basic consciousness about one's anatomy?!? Good God, I hope not. I hope she'll always know how amazing, how blessed, how capable, and how miraculous her body really is, whatever form it takes.