How a simple moment between mother and toddler became an important body positivity lesson.

“Mummy, I hafta pee!”

My freshly potty trained two year old dashed into the bathroom where I was blow drying my hair, tugging at her pajama pants as she ran. I set the blow dryer on the counter, scooped her up, and rushed to the toilet, unwilling to test the urgency of her declaration for even a second longer than necessary.

As she settled onto the seat, she leaned over to peer into the bowl and asked, “Why my bum-bum big?” Only milliseconds passed between her question and my answer, but it was enough to consciously think of the natural rebuttal, “Your bum isn’t big!”


Instead I heard myself saying, “Everyone’s bum-bum is big.” I paused for a moment before adding, “God made them nice and soft so they’re comfy to sit on.”

As she finished her business, what I’d said suddenly dawned on me, and I realized that perhaps I had stumbled upon something important.

My daughter is two. She has not developed any body image issues yet.

To her, a body is a body is a body, regardless of how big or small, cushy or bony, light or dark.

The questions she asks and the statements she makes are out of pure observation and curiosity. She notices that her brothers don’t share her anatomy, that her mommy’s skin is red and freckled, that her bum-bum is big. She does not see these things as imperfections. They simply are and she wants to know why.

I could easily have responded to her question that morning by exclaiming, “Your bum isn’t big!” But what would it have accomplished? My little girl is smart and only a few such statements would teach her to believe that having a big bum must be undesirable.

Instead, I focused on what she was really saying. Regardless of how fat or thin we are, our butts take up a good portion of our bodies. They’re round and they stick out a little. Yes, some are bigger than others, but we all have them and to a two year old, they all look big.

Our culture loves to talk about body image.

About the problem of girls making themselves sick to try to look perfect. About the fact that photos of models are airbrushed and photoshopped almost beyond recognition.

Perhaps the conversation needs to change.

Maybe instead of reading into every comment made about our bodies, we need to take such statements at face value and realize that an observation is not necessarily an insult. Maybe instead of trying to bolster our daughters’ self-esteem by telling them, “You’re not fat!”, we need to remind them (and ourselves) that healthy people come in all shapes and sizes.

Maybe we should start looking at our bodies as amazing creations instead of as things in need of constant tweaking to meet a made up ideal.

I’m sure I’ll fall into old habits again.

But if my daughter catches me bemoaning my lost boobs, I’ll try to remember to tell her how they nourished three incredible people. And if she spots me examining my face in despair, I’ll do my best to stop and explain all the varied abilities of skin.

And when the day comes, as I’m sure it will, when she asks me if her butt is big, I may not tell her that it is, but I won’t tell her that it isn’t either. Instead I’ll tell her that it’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

More

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared