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A Chat with My Little Girl: Plastic Surgery

by Laura on September 30th, 2013

My daughter recently saw an ad for plastic surgery on TV.  Did you know I live in Europe? It was graphic by American standards, with only certain naked parts blurred out.

Emphasis on “certain.”

NOT a “selfie.” Photo credit: “Sexy Breast” by adamr

The next day, I figured out what she’d seen based on the following conversation. Remember, Danica is five-and-a-half years old.

Danica: How big will my tsi-tse get?

Me: Baby girl, they are called “breasts.” [The word she used in Serbian is a common term, similar to “tits.” It’s not 100% okay for kids to say this word, but as far as I can figure, it’s not considered as bad as a real cuss word.]

Danica: When will I get breasts?

Me: Well, remember what we talked about? You won’t get breasts until puberty*, when your body starts changing into an adult, into a body that can get pregnant and have children.

Danica: I know. I’m not going to become a momma until after I finish all of my school. Ohhhh yes! The brain-washing has woooorked!

Me: Right. You’ll finish your school and have a job. But in the meantime, you’ll get breasts. Probably around when you’re 15.

Danica: Momma, did you know that there’s a surgery if you need to take some of the blood out of your veins?

Me [Trying to remain calm, and wanting to say WTF, but realizing that she saw this commercial for a plastic surgery clinic in Belgrade]: What do you mean, baby girl?

Danica [Gesturing to her calves, because she doesn’t know the English word for “vein”]: You know, your blood. If it’s too big in your legs, you can go to a surgery, and the doctors fix it.

Me: Veins. People have surgery on the veins in their calves. It’s a common surgery for older women who don’t like when their veins get too big.

Danica: And if you think your breasts are too big, you can have a surgery for that, to make them smaller.

S-I-L-E-N-C-E.

Danica [Motions her hands stuffing imaginary padding into her shirt]: Or if they’re too small, you can get them bigger with a surgery, too.

[Repeating to myself … This is a teaching moment, this is a teaching moment. It is not a time to make jokes about “Silicon Valley,” the popular street so nicknamed in the Belgrade city centre, where surgically enhanced young women hang out, looking for a rich boyfriend enjoying the night life.]

Me [Taking a deep breath]: You’re right. There are surgeries for that.

Danica: How big will my breasts be?

Me: Well, Danica, I don’t really know. But based on the women in your family, I think you are going to be happy with the size of your breasts.

Danica: If not, I can just have a surgery.

Me: That’s true, but surgery is kind of serious. I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. I think you’re going to like the breasts you will have. Perhaps you should just wait and see.

With that, my little girl skipped off to catch up with her little brother who, for whatever unknown reason, was totally uninterested in this girl-talk.

Truly, our chats are fascinating to me because, while she doesn’t have the knowledge-base, her logic is impeccable. She knows that I won’t lie to her … if I try to hide something, I can see from the look on her face that she knows it. I’ve learned I must communicate my values to her, providing the information she wants in age-appropriate language.

There’s no need to demonize someone for a personal decision. Just like any cosmetic surgery–whether it’s braces, teeth whitening, or, yes, even breast enhancement–it’s not okay to judge someone based solely on these decisions. In another ten years, breast enhancement surgery may be just as “accepted” a decision as braces. Then again, maybe not.

Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. Nearly all kids in the U.S. these days have, will have, or already had braces. Here in Serbia, braces for kids is very uncommon (although that’s changing), while 8,000 women/year have boob jobs.

At Dancia’s age, it’s important to me that she understand that women–with or without plastic surgery, are still humans, and they deserve to be treated that way.

*  *  *

* We’ve already discussed what menstruation is. Why? Because she asked and would not be deterred. It’s okay, it’s a normal process for a healthy teenage girl, and my daughter will be well-informed. When the time comes, she definitely won’t be the young woman using tampons with the cardboard applicator, uncomfortably inserted all of it in one fell swoop. Yes, it happens.

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From → Expat Mommy

34 Comments
  1. I’m so glad my mom had these sorts of conversation with me when I was very young. I “became a woman” when I was only ten in the 4th grade. I knew some girls who didn’t know before it happened and thought they were dying. Yikes! You, Laura, are a great mom for addressing questions when they come up. At any age. If young girls aren’t told at the time of curiosity who knows where they will get their (probably not factual) information from. I’m so thankful my mom addressed my questions as I’m sure when your little lady gets older will too.

  2. P.S. how wonderful for telling her that you think she will be very happy with her breasts when she is older. How wonderful to teach/guide her to loving the body she has while she is so young and impresnable.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Becky,
      Thanks! It's so amazing how she appreciates the truth. When she receives the truth, she feels confident just to skip away and not think about it. That's so cool that your mom was open with you about "women stuff."
      Laura

  3. MamaB permalink

    I think that your openness and desire for truth and facts in regards to adoption has manifested itself beautifully in your parenting :)
    Your perspective has really opened my eyes to other aspects of adoption I had never before considered. Thank you

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      WOW! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you making the connection between truth-telling in adoption and my parenting-style. I do think that it has a lot to do with it, and it's so cool that you picked up on it!
      Laura

  4. Great teachable moment…but how sad. I had to ask my son's question, "Mama, what's erectile dysfunction?" when he was in kindergarten. He saw E.D. drugs advertised during baseball games. Try to answer that one for a 5 yo. Zoiks.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Betsy!
      ED — awesome. I could just imagine discussing this with my three-year old son. "Some people can't get hard and big pee-pees and have to take medicine? Wow, that's very sad, Momma."
      Laura

  5. Funny and wise and so patient. You are the Mama of the year in my book. That child has no choice but to become a spectacular woman (like her mama).

  6. I think it's important to bring girls up to understand that they should't buckle to pressure and have plastic surgery. It's becoming so common, it's sad.

  7. "There’s no need to demonize someone for a personal decision." – EXACTLY!

  8. this is the personal decision.

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  13. Natalie permalink

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  19. Just a great way to talk with your children but i think instead of surgery you should go fo the sclerotherapy. The treatment is just too good.

  20. Is any plastic surgery covered by insurance?

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