Why are boys innately more body-confident? Why are they so proud of their penises and girls have a hard time with the word vagina? We need to teach our girls body confidence.
Humor Parenting

Maybe He’s Born With It

Why are boys innately more body-confident? Why are they so proud of their penises and girls have a hard time with the word vagina? We need to teach our girls body confidence.

By Melanie Lemoine of Is It Just Me? Stories of Love, Life, and Mothering

After recently reading an article about women’s body confidence, I wasn’t at all surprised at the complexity of this issue. There is a ton of shame, and we have to be really careful not to shame. Confidence is good, but it can also be problematic.  Be wary, those who are thin and attractive, because there if often limited space within the conversation to have any self-doubt or insecurities. It’s tricky and truthfully, it sucks.

As pointed out in the article, men, in general, don’t seem to be having similar issues.


I speak to both my son and my daughter, when asked, about their bodies and my body in the same way. The conversation often goes something like this:

“Mommy, why does your (insert your favorite ridiculously inappropriate question here)?”

My answer to either child is basically the same: “Well, that’s because…and hey, Mommy looks great! I’m 42 years old and my body housed and fed two beautiful babies!”

Both kids see me half-dressed regularly, I express no body shame, and I tell them both the same things:

  • Our bodies are beautiful things
  • Not all bodies look the same and that’s okay
  • The important thing is that we are healthy and strong
  • Yes, it’s okay to touch your own body
  • Yes, some parts tickle and that’s totally fine, too

Despite my best efforts, a huge disparity exists. Boys and girls don’t see their bodies in the same way.

When my son was around 4 years old, he was old enough to dress himself, but I couldn’t leave him to the task for too long. If I didn’t follow up, he would ultimately remain naked for longer than humanly necessary. Once, after a bath, while he was supposed to be getting dressed, I checked in on him to find that he had dug out a plastic baton from his toy chest. It was a clear baton, filled with sparkly green ribbons and had long, multi-colored streamers dangling from each end. He was slamming the baton down on his bed as if he was chopping wood. Naked chopping, of course.

I gently reminded him that it was time to get dressed.

I could hear more chopping. Then it stopped. Then he yelled for me, “Mommy! Mooom-may! Come see!”

I walked into his room to find him on the floor with the baton across his naked lap. Streamers draped all across his nether region. I’ve never seen him look quite so proud.

Holy shit. My son just decorated his penis.

Yep. That’s exactly what he did, and he was very happy about it. In that moment I wondered, how is it that he is expressing such pelvic pride, yet I have a hard time getting my daughter to utter the word v-a-g-i-n-a? Where does this male genital entitlement come from?

It’s never crossed to my mind to decorate my vagina. I doubt most women I know consider it either. Sure, several years ago there was that weirdo fad where women were bedazzling it with gems and glitter, but let’s be honest, no one really was happy about that. There was zero empowerment; it was just plain stupid.

I have realized, raising both a son and a daughter, that it’s probably genetic. I think men in general are born with a sense of body confidence that is embedded in their DNA. I’m sure there is an anthropologist out there who can tell me the historical significance of why men have been decorating their dicks since the dawn of time.

Frankly, I don’t care.

Men may be born with it, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t still claim it. Just because they have it doesn’t mean that I can’t. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. The truth is, when I tell my children that their mommy looks great, I actually mean it.

Look, nothing is perfect, nobody is perfect, and I have zero expectation to be perfect, but I wake up every day, healthy and strong. I have two legs that are strong enough to walk to the ends of the earth if my children needed me to. I have two arms that can wrap around my family and show love and strength like nobody’s business. I have a brain that (usually) works and I’m smart enough to know when I should apologize to my children. I can’t ask for much more than that.

Sure, it would be nice if my breasts looked like they did when I was 21. I could live without the weird stretch marks on my inner thighs. Frankly, I would be happy just having an understanding as to why I have them there in the first place. None of it matters because this is the body I have and nothing is changing. So instead of staring at the problem, I focus on the good and claim my confidence.

And look, if you ever feel like you need a few sparkly streamers to give your confidence a boost, I have a baton you can borrow. Apparently, it works wonders.


About the Author

Melanie Forstall is a full-time mother, full-time wife, full-time teacher, and never-enough-time blogger at Melanie Forstall: Stories of Love, Life, and Mothering . She lives by two simple rules: 1) No t-shirts, and 2) No mini-skirts. Ever. Her work has been published on Scary Mommy, Red Tricycle, Parent.Co, and Sammiches & Psych Meds. She lives in Baton Rouge and makes herself laugh on  Facebook and Instagram.