My 4-Year-Old Is My Body-Confidence Hero

body confidence
The chase was intensifying. Two kindergarten boys (my son and a friend from school) were in pursuit of my four-year-old daughter with plastic lightsabers, while she sported a combination of Star Wars/Knight/Pirate attire and sprinted around our backyard.
Suddenly, a time-out was called: “Mom!” she yelled. “I have to poop!” “Ok sweetie, um, you do that,” I replied.
Inside she went, did her business, and then returned to the yard, where the game resumed without commentary. 
I seemed to be the only one phased by this recent scene, and I stood there thinking about it for several minutes afterward. When, I wondered, does that matter-of-fact body confidence end, replaced by embarrassment or at least moderate self-consciousness about bodily functions and appearance? 
As a brilliant children’s book reminds us, everybody poops. But at some point, we learn to pretend we don’t—especially if we’re women. We also don’t fart, get boogers in our noses, or get “all sweaty”—things my kids do and will happily tell you about if they meet you in line at the grocery store. (I will say that I do have a few female friends who are pretty blasé about all this stuff, but they are in the minority.)
To be honest, it never surprised me that my son was nonchalant about his body and all its often-strange inner workings. But my daughter’s complete acceptance of herself from head to toe has been a marvel. I guess that’s because it’s been so long since I’ve felt the same way. I try to project a positive body image for my two girls, but there are many times when my mouth says one thing while my brain believes another. 
My daughter appreciates her body for the way it is and what it can do, rather than wishing just one thing (or ten things) could be different. She certainly never feels mortified if someone tells her she’s been walking around for the past hour with food on her face.
Maybe it’s the energy she saves by not being self-critical that helps explain why she is literally bouncing off the walls at 6:00 PM and I am collapsing on the couch. Whatever it is, it is beautiful to behold, and a precious quality I will fight to protect in her as long as I can. I will also try to take a page from her book, even if it’s not quite announcing my bathroom activities to houseguests. As I’m reminded time and again, I have as much to learn from my kids as they do from me.


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