Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hello, Bombshell!

One of the very simple things that Miss C loves to do is get the mail.  She loves standing on tiptoe, groping into the mailbox and pulling out fistfuls of envelopes.  She then likes to bring the stack inside and sort through it.  This involves looking for anything with stickers, markers, or her name on it. 

A few days ago we went to get the mail, and as she sat sorting through it, she called off the things she found: “This one is a note from Mimi.  It is very hot in Florida.” (She hands me a water utility bill.) “And this one is from Emma, she wants me to help her blow out her birthday candles.” (Hands me another bill.)  “Oh!  And here is one from the library,” she points an accusing finger at me, “You better pay those fines or NO MORE BOOKS for you.”  And with this, she hands me a credit card application.  “OH.  Mama, LOOK!”  She jumps up at and is holding a shiny pamphlet spotted with some type of leopard print.  “She's NURSING!”

I reached over to see the Victoria’s Secret advertisement, but her fingers were gripping those breasts with all her might.  She opened the small booklet and began studying its contents.  And the commentary went  like this, “She’s nursing.  And she’s nursing.  Oh, she’s nursing too!  She’s nursing and she needs a summer haircut.  And she’s nursing and her hair is in her eyes and she can’t see.”
This was the first flip through.

The second time, she moved from comments to questions:

“But how is she feeling?”

“And how is she feeling?”

“And how is she feeling?”

Her brow furrowed as she repeatedly asked this question about each underwear model.
This is a very common question for C, and she often asks it when we’re reading or when she sees pictures she’s trying to understand.  It’s led to us talking about feeling joyful, sad, angry, jealous, surprised, playful, interested, confused, and curious, among others.  But oops!  I forgot to tell her about sexy.  She knows an o-shaped mouth indicates a surprised face, but I plumb forgot to tell her about the partially opened mouth, crazed penetrating eyes, and tousled hair that covers half your face.

What was interesting was her guessing the feelings of these photos:
“Is she mad? No, well, confused?  No.  I think she is in pain.  Is she injured?  Did she get injured when she was nursing?  No, maybe she is just mad.  And cold.”

Sometimes we ask the wrong question.I get these ads from Victoria’s Secret because three years ago I ordered a bathing suit from them.  I was sitting with my then 6 month old at a beach, wearing the equivalent of Long Underwear Swim Wear, which involved something like a lycra turtleneck, and harem pants.  And another mother waltzed by in an actual bathing suit.  She was holding an infant in one arm, and the hand of a toddler in another.  And I immediately asked her where she got such a great swimsuit.  “Victoria’s Secret!” she enthused.

I should have asked her about her genetic composition.  Or how much time she spent at the gym.  But I asked about the product, and then I went and bought it.  And so for three years I’ve gotten these little, harmless ads that I send right to recycling, not even thinking about them.  Until my daughter literally has steam coming out of her head from the work her brain is doing trying to comprehend that look that is on all the women’s faces.  How are they feeling?

Before tossing the advertisement into the recycling bin, I finally called and removed myself from VS's valued customer list.

And C determined that this is how they are feeling:


Because if they are nursing the baby all night, then they want to go to sleep.
Good thing the photos show a bed in the background, because that tired, mad, cold, injured, nursing mama might need to fall in and get some rest.


  1. A reader named Lauren responded with this:

    "Wow. I'm impressed by C's thoughtfulness. And I LOVE the references to nursing. Sounds like she has a lot of empathy for mothers. Good work! :)

    Seriously, though, I feel almost physically ill that young children are looking at VS ads at all! I've never been more thankful not to be receiving those catalogs. I admire your ability to allow her to look at the ad several times and come to her own conclusion. I think that would be very hard for me."

  2. I've got a 3 year old girl and 10 month old girl. My oldest has come to very similar conclusions when she got a hold of a VS catalog (which, try as I might, I can't seem to get them to stop sending). I think she concluded that most of them had a surprised face or their tummies were hurting. I thought that was awesome. I am loving your blog.