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How many gazillion posts can I start writing with no clue as to what I'm going to write about, limping solely along on the determination to post something or die trying? 1703 apparently, as of this one.

My daughter has been, for whatever reason, lamenting the fact that she is THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD with an outie bellybutton. I'm not sure exactly how this bit of information has suddenly come to the forefront of her consciousness. Comparison tests in the locker room while changing for gympa? She is the only person in our family, at least, but I hardly think that warrants wailing and despair at her extreme other-ness. To stem the angst, I promised I would conduct a poll of my friends and acquaintances online so I'm asking you: innie or outie?

Her outie is, I think, the result of a rather botched umbilical tie-off, but I think it's cute. It's a little button in the middle of her darling little tummy. She seems to be fixating more and more on her appearance lately, something I keep trying, with a rather decided lack of success, to head off at the pass. Her feet are "ugly", her hair is "bushy", she's "not cute". When I ask where she is hearing this, who she is hearing it from, her answers are evasive. She's certainly not hearing it from us, and frankly, I don't think that it can all be credited to sibling affection in the form of regular teasing from her brother.

It's weird to me, because she's so very much a tomboy in so many ways, that this very feminine affliction would be bothering her at the relatively tender age of nine and a half. Isn't that early for self-image introspection? Are they really growing up THAT fast? It's scary to think that she's already aware of the way she looks and that it CONCERNS her. I know things start young nowadays, but I was hoping we had a few more years leeway.

Her emotions swing from the wildest high to a crashing low, one moment to the next. It's never dull around her, that's for sure. Giving her a compliment can send her spiraling with joy and an off-hand, teasing comment can be completely misconstrued and agonized over to the point of tears. This tough kid of mine has paper-thin skin apparently, and she's already learning about what gets through it. She's weighing and measuring and considering every angle and aspect of her revelation of self. Comparison is just a part of that process, but it's a scarily important part that can have repercussions for years, depending upon which side she comes down on herself.

As someone who has never considered herself much of a beauty, and who frankly, hasn't given much of a hoot EVER for make-up or hairstyles (no need with Barky on the job!), I'm not at all sure I'm equipped to deal with this beyond frequent and honest applications of love and affirmation. What your MOM thinks of how you look, when you're young, has no bearing on reality. It's just your MOM and she's biased, right? Of course she's beautiful to me, she thinks, I HAVE to say that. But my lord, it's true. She's so beautiful! When beauty is blossoming in a healthy glow and crackling energy and funny faces and a boundless capacity for affection, how could I NOT think she was beautiful? How could anyone, including her, ever think otherwise?


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music: Jonatha Brooke—Glass Half Empty

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We are all innies here. That makes four more to the quota.

My son Kyle (12) also has problems with his self-image. I think this stems from comparing himself to others and teasing, which he shrugs off and claims it doesn't bother him. He has red, red hair and this has inspired the nick name "ginger". He claims he doesn't mind when the older kids say this, his sense of humor helps. But still, surly it stings a little? There is pressure, at these tender young years to have boyfriends and girlfriends, which we don't approve. Kyle and I have talked about liking a girl, but not going through the whole messy ordeal at this young age of pegging it boyf and gf. So that aspect opens all kinds of doors of self evaluation. It is different for girls though. Women wear many hats and it seems to begin from the early years onward.

Keep instilling the confidence you have (from reading your blog--you rock!) to remind her of the beauty she seems to already possess--confidence!

12 sure seems young to me, too, in regards to boyfriend/girlfriend...although both my kids have had a special boy/girl friend of the opposite sex since they were TWO. So who am I to talk? But so far, it's extremely innocent :)

Innie. A very deep, frightening, seemingly bottomless innie.

I've been self conscious from an early age because - opposite of the bias you mentioned - my mother has always been extremely critical of how I look. Not in a constructive way either. It took a boyfriend / husband to convince me of any beauty. Of course he's incredibly biased and for that, I am grateful. :)
Your daughter - and your son - are both beautiful, and moreso because they look happy, active, well fed in body, brain, and humor, and well loved.

Your boyfriend/husband CAN'T be biased! Not about that. :)

she is just beautiful. i mean, look at those big browns!

i am not looking forward to this at all myself. having dealt with horrible self esteem my entire life (and still) how to i teach my beautiful daughter to not fight that battle??

ps. innie here.

I love my kids' big browns :)

And I know what you's tough enough for ourselves...even harder to figure out how to help someone we love navigate those murky depths.

She's a beautiful girl, just look at that picture you posted! Oh, and innies here. Sorry.

Edited at 2009-03-17 05:29 pm (UTC)

No reason to be sorry, the rest of us are innies, too. :) But I'm glad to see how many outies there's not THAT unusual!


Well OF COURSE, she's cute and wonderful. All children need to hear how great they are in every way. But as for the outie, you might remind her that it will make piercing easier! :0 Love, Lizardmom

MOM!!!! >:O

Haha, your mum cracks me up :)

Your daughter is indeed stunning, I hope she manages to remember that.

For what it's worth, there's two things that helped me overcome slight body insecurities:

1. Bizarrely, going to the gym, and only because it showed me all the different shapes and sizes and types that exist, and there were people there who were envying my body which was so bizarre to me. It made me realise that all types are sexy in their own way.

2. The only thing I really used to suffer was a bit of envy. I'd sit there for ages staring at a girl's legs thinking 'oh I wish I had her legs'. And, and this will sound ridiculous, then I made a rule that if I were to have something of someone else's I'd have to take ALL of them and so I'd think silly things like 'yeah but what if she had REALLY horrible tits', or 'but what if she was really really boring' and that stopped my envy in its tracks :)

This was of course a long long long LONG time ago :)

Good principles to keep in mind! I still have envy like that sometimes, actually, and it's a good one to think well, you can't have JUST that bit, you have to take the THE WHOLE. :) We'd look awfully weird if we were made up of perfect bits from several different people, for sure! :)

9 1/2 - 10 seems right about on target for the first existential crisis. Otherness...obsessing about being so different, or not being different enough. I know I was downright obnoxious at 10.

Make sure you tell Karin that I think she is incredibly beautiful and spunky to boot!

I'm not looking forward to her teen years for some things :P And I will totally pass along your compliments :)

Innie here, but I sure became an extreme outie for a while in each of my pregnancies. I have a very vague memory of one of my chicklets having a slight outies that became an innie as she grew up.

I used to be very self conscious of my boobs! of all things... feeling different like Karin does about her outie. And then I began to study photos in National Geographic. I saw a photo once of Many African woman dressed in skirts, no tops, and man were there a lot of different types of boobs! That cured me.
And the no fuzz in an outie thing is a good point.

I had no idea that bellybuttons could migrate from outie to innie as one aged until this post! Who'da thunkit?!

She IS beautiful! And I would love to hear the ways you try to convince her of that as she grows older; it won't be too much longer before I'll be navigating that road with my own sweet girls.
For your survey: My husband and youngest are innies. I had a strange, deformed bellybutton as a child that caused me so much anguish that I literally cut it out with nail clippers in junior high. (Maybe you don't want to share that story with Karin, actually. But I can fully relate to her feeling awkward and different.) Now, my bellybutton looks like a normal innie, except when I get pregnant and it pops out to THERE. :) And Natalie doesn't have a bellybutton at all, just a 3/4-inch scar from abdominal surgery just after birth. I find it completely adorable, but she may find herself in Karin's shoes one day. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!


Oh, and other celebrities with outies include Rosario Dawson, Mena Suvari, Jenny McCarthy, Evangeline Lily, and Katie Holmes. Maybe it will help to know that so many drop-dead gorgeous women are in no way hindered by their belly buttons!

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