5 Things About Me That I Let My Daughter See

I hope she sees a woman unafraid of the shadows

Savala Nolan
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readNov 29, 2022

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A young girl holding a sparkler at night
Photo by Zara Walker on Unsplash

I believe in the adage you can’t be what you can’t see. So I make a point to let my daughter see these five things:

  1. My Body Unadorned

Getting dressed, thin, wintry morning light slanting through the window and illuminating my freckles, stretch marks, a long scar, shapely unshaved legs, the generous swoop of my belly and the wide strength of my back. Emerging from the shower, drops of water on my calves and neck, arm reaching for the towel, the soft underside of my bicep cutting through the steam. At the pool, in a swimsuit, in a wave, in a splash, warmed by the sun.

Unplucked eyebrows, monthly zits, half-moons of lavender under sleepy eyes. Mauve mouth, broad nose, big cheeks. Teeth that never had braces, a forehead that’s never had Botox. This is me. As far as she’s concerned, my face is a lily and needs no gilding; I feel the same about her.

I let my daughter see my physical being, unadorned and unaltered, un-dieted and un-young, because this is who I really am, and because this body was her first home, and this face her first mirror. It is all her genetic inheritance and I want her to know it is good. I want her to see a woman comfortable in her flesh.

2. My Period

It wasn’t on purpose. She opened the door one day while I was going to the bathroom and saw a pad on my underwear, and on the pad was blood. Maybe she was two years old? An age where kids storm into the bathroom when their mothers are trying to pee or poop or shower or do anything private. She looked alarmed and said, “Did you hurt yourself?” And I said, “No, sweetie. This is my period. It’s like blood but not the kind that comes when you have a cut or an owie.” She accepted this answer. Eventually it happened again (the lock on the bathroom door is broken; but even if it weren’t, some motherly acceptance within me understands that bathroom time just isn’t my own anymore). She said, “Is that mama’s period?” I answered, “Yes. Every month most mamas get their period for a few days and this is what it looks like.” Now, at the age of seven, she doesn’t bat an eyelash at the mention of a period and its accoutrement. She knows what they’re for, what they’re…

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Savala Nolan
Human Parts

uc berkeley law professor and essayist @ vogue, time, harper’s, NYT, NPR, and more | Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins | she/her | IG @notquitebeyonce