The girls and I were on the way to a park and two men jogged past us, one shirtless and one not which Luna, my 5-year-old, noticed. Tulip, my 7-year-old explained that when some men get sweaty, they take off their shirts.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to engage my girls in some gender equality discussion.
I asked Tulip why sweaty men take off their shirts when running but sweaty women don't. She said that a woman's chest is a private part so she keeps it covered. I asked her what she thinks about how a woman's chest is private but a man's chest is not. And she said, "I know. That's crazy. Who made that up? The gods?!" (It's been a summer full of Greek mythology and creation myths)
Then Luna chimed in, in response to my question, "That's not...nice." She hesitated before saying the word "nice" because she was thinking some big thoughts and maybe meant to say, "That's not fair" but perhaps I'm projecting. What she did say was the following and it took her some effort to find the right words.
Luna said, "That's not...good (new word this time) because when a man is sweaty and can take his shirt off he can look down at his chest but a woman can't look down at her chest."
This blew my mind. She's 5. She thinks her body is her most amazing possession and she looks at it all the time. Of. Course.
Luna also said, "It's also not good because when a man gets sweaty he can take off his shirt and then the air can blow on his stomach and that will feel nice because he's sweaty but a woman can't take off her shirt so she won't ever have any air blow on her stomach when she's sweaty. When I get sweaty I like to lift my shirt off my stomach so I can feel some air on it."
This also blew my mind because at her innocent age it's about two basic principals - comfort and identity. Not shame or embarrassment or anything like that. Everyone needs to think like a 5-year-old every now and then: This is my awesome body and I like how it looks because bodies are amazing and, oh, by the way I'm sweaty so I'm going to adjust my clothing to cool off.