Well…actually the parts I’m referring to are collectively called a Vulva, but you know what I mean.
**trigger warning** This post mentions sexual abuse. Be kind to yourself and take heed before proceeding.
Baby Chick is a girl and I couldn’t be happier. All I can think is, “Exactly how many headbands is too many headbands?” Hair or not, she WILL have a headband or bow to match every outfit.
There’s a lot that comes along with raising a little girl into a strong, confident and kind woman. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a girl and a woman and what lessons I want to pass along to my little one.
One of the topics I’ve been thinking about is body awareness and positivity. Beyond being a beautiful little black girl, I want her to know what it means to keep her body safe. The Social Worker in me has strong opinions about kids not referring to their private parts by their exact names: penis and vagina/vulva. Here’s why…
If a child is ever sexually abused or molested and they want to tell a trusted adult, the confession may go unnoticed if they are using code words that only they know to describe their private parts. A child telling a teacher, “Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So ate/touched my cookie” may not get the same response as other child sexual abuse confessions if the adult doesn’t know that “cookie” is a metaphor for vagina.
On the other hand, I understand why parents use “kid friendly” words for genitalia. Once kids hit a certain age they have this obsession with learning and talking about their body. Oftentimes, they don’t understand that there is a time and a place to discuss these things. It’s not uncommon for kids to randomly start asking questions and making up songs about their body. It’s hilarious to me, but I’m sure it’s embarrassing for the parent at the park whose kid is going on and on about their sex organs.
So, what does (or did) your little girl call her vagina? I remember my mother referring to mine as my “Cooda-Cat”. I have a co worker whose daughter, despite being taught the proper name, has decided to call her vagina her “nachos” (I laughed until I cried when I heard that one).
You know another popular nickname for a vagina? A purse.
In grad school my child welfare professor was adamant about teaching children the proper name for their private areas after having a, what is now, a funny experience with her daughter and her “purse”.
One day while in the grocery story, my professor’s daughter was showing off about how much she knew about child/body safety by singing about her vagina and how no one can see or touch it besides her, her parents and her dentist…
…she meant her doctor. Her mother quickly cleared up the confusion surrounding this fact.
At the end of her rant, my professor’s daughter loudly proclaimed that she wanted her mother to take a look at her vagina as it had been giving her some problems. Once they got in the car, my professor stated her daughter flung her legs over her head and she noticed her vaginal area was slightly red and irritated.
Upon further inspection at home, my professor noticed her daughter had tiny splinters around her inner thighs. After what I’m sure was a weird line of questioning, my professor’s daughter confessed that she had been putting mulch from the playground at school in her panties because her vagina was a purse. I don’t know where she learned the terminology, but she definitely understand the concept of a purse. You put stuff in it, of course!
Protect your child’s vagina health. Please, call it a vagina.