Having a daughter teetering on the brink of puberty has brought up a plethora of issues for me. First and foremost, I want to make sure she has a strong sense of who she is, and hopefully, she will be less likely to abandon herself than I was. There seems to be no dearth of opportunities for me to model self-love and acceptance. It turns out that practicing self-acceptance is a win for both of us.
If I want my daughter to feel good about her body in all of its awkward phases, and to celebrate every step of the way, I have to be equally vigilant about how I talk/think about my own body. We are all bodies in process, all metamorphosing. Then, that in turn, puts in bold relief how many times a day I can be critical of myself.
I took Stella on a mommy/daughter day trip to a Korean bathhouse last weekend. When I told her we’d be leaving our clothes in the locker, she looked at me with wide eyes, “Even our underwear? Well, this is gonna be awkward.” The next thing I knew, she and I were buck ass naked in the hot tub surrounded by women and children of every ethnicity, ranging in age from 4 to…must have been an easy 85? Stella got a front row seat of what real women’s bodies look like at every stage of life: a veritable “31 Flavors” of nipples and body fuzz differing in shape, size and hue. It was so cool to see her settle into a beautiful level of ease, and of course, curiosity in checking out the vast array of womanhood slipping in and out of hot and cold tubs, saunas and steam rooms. And of course, the coup de gras, the meticulous (if not overzealous) self-scrubbing routine that is de rigueur for Korean women.
We left, hours later, having eaten our fill of bimbimbap and bulgogi tacos, having been scoured within an inch of our lives, clean as whistles, smooth as alabaster, feeling that much closer to each other, and part of a gorgeous circle of life.