Tackling how to discuss vaginas with your daughter, can be a real test of feminist parenting. In the same way little girls often delight in sticking fingers up their noses, the vulva, once discovered, can become a place of interest and fascination for a short time. This is the perfect opportunity to find inspiring and impactful ways to explain vaginas to your daughter and also dispel any myths that others may be keen to pass onto her as she grows.
Discussing what a vagina is to your child does not automatically mean you have to discuss sex. Yes, you are laying the groundwork for that conversation later on, but it is simple a way to teach your daughter about her body and all it can do.
Deciding in advance ways to explain vaginas to your daughter, makes it far more relaxed and natural. It also encourages conversations which can be built on as your child matures.
Yes, you may dread talking about vaginas to your daughters, but it’s so important to start the conversation before someone else does and, as a result, tried to feed her a bunch of BS. Still, there's the awkward factor to overcome. To help you navigate your way through the tough topic, here are some tips to help explain vaginas to your daughter.
1. Use The Proper Terms
Early on in my parenting journey, I decided that anatomy would rule. When my daughter asked what to call the part of her body that she peed from, I told her that it's called a vulva and most people refer to it as a vagina. Using the proper terms for your daughter’s body, instills in her that it is normal and not embarrassing. Crucially, it also gives her correct terminology to flag up any pain or problems in that area.
3. Emphasize The Importance
Throughout history, vaginas and fertility have been worshiped, and its important to carry on that school of thought today. As soon as the vagina conversation started, I showed my daughter pictures of Sheela na Gigs, eleventh century carvings that show women pulling on their vulva's in a very entertaining fashion. Not only did this make her giggle, but it introduced the concept that vaginas are to be worshiped and that she shouldn't let anyone tell her otherwise.
2. Remind Them The Vagina Deserves Respect
Once the vagina monologues begin with your child, you can instill a real sense of respect about how impressive this body part is. By explaining all the amazing things your vagina can do, You're empowering and educating your child.
4. Explain That You Don’t Need A Vagina To Be A Woman
The amazing thing about kids is that they are so frigging open minded. It’s us adults who have a hard time with concepts like gender fluidity. Discussions around vaginas are the perfect place to introduce the idea that not all women are born with vaginas (or men with penis for that matter.) I was really adamant on keeping any conversations about genitals from turning into a cis-normative one. I want my child to know that self-identity does not have to conform to specific notions of male or female gender. It's a lesson in acceptance which can be applied to so many aspects of her life view.
5. Eliminate The Connection Between Vaginas and Babies
While it's important to tell your child that the reproduction system is amazing, it's also important to teach girl's that vaginas aren't solely for reproduction. I don't want my daughter to feel that having children is inevitable or that not having them would make her any less of a woman.
6. Tell Them Vaginas Aren’t Dirty
I’m aware that, as my daughter grows up, she will be bombarded with adverts for products that offer to sanitize her vulva. This plays into the idea that vaginas are potentially dirty, dark things to be ashamed of. As a mother, I play my part in combating this notion. No feminine hygiene products will ever grace my bathroom shelves, because guess what? Vaginas don’t need deodorant.
7. Reiterate That Vaginas Are Hairy
It’s unlikely my daughter will ever see media images of female genitalia that show more than a light dusting of pubic hair. I have explained that women get hair on their bodies-including their vaginas-and that some women leave it there while others get rid of it. Furthermore, it's important to explain that waxing your bikini line makes anyone less of a feminist, because you don't want your daughter to feel ashamed for doing something that makes her more comfortable.
8. Take The Fear Out Of Periods
I remember sneaking a look at my mom’s box of tampons when I was younger. They seemed slightly mysterious and scary, and I dreaded ever needing them myself. Had she explained their purpose, maybe I wouldn't have been so scared. So the first time your daughter discovers your tampons, seize this teachable moment to talk about periods. Keep it quick and to the point, and reiterate that it’s totally normal.
9. Emphasize That Their Vagina Is Their Own
It’s not a subject any parent wants to dwell on, but talking to your daughter about inappropriate physical contact is important. There is no need to labour the point, but when discussing vaginas its wise to remind your daughter that no one should ever touch that part of her body except her. Teaching this, is a powerful tool in ensuring any inappropriate behavior is flagged.
It’s easy to feel awkward about discussing vaginas with your daughter but there is absolutely no need. As soon as you separate the idea of genitals, automatically being about sexuality, it simply becomes another body positive conversation. Speaking honestly to your daughter about her body, will pave the way for her to have a better relationship with it, and that is such a good foundation for emotional security.