-By Erin Wright
It’s something about a woman and her pocketbook, a stylish compartment we carry around and hold as if our lives depend on it. Mine contains my wallet, gum, lipstick/gloss, sometimes an emergency sewing kit, and nowadays some hand sanitizer.
Grandmas always have a mint in their pocketbooks, mothers usually have some type of wipe or stain remover, and young women most likely have a spare tampon. I kid you not, ask them.
For some women, a pocketbook is a statement piece. In fact, some of them make their own statement with their vibrant color, shape, size, or even cost. (Hello, Hermes.) Others can be more conservative, low-key, and go barely noticed but are practical AF.
We judge other women on their pocketbooks, too. Come on now, I know you do it. Is it a knockoff? Is that last season? Who is the new designer for that pocketbook? How much did it cost?
The point is, we talk about pocketbooks freely. In fact, we are all up in each other’s pocketbook business, but why aren’t we that concerned with the pocketbook between our legs? Yes, ladies, I said pocketbook.
Does anyone else refer to their vagina as a pocketbook? I do sometimes. My grandmother did as well (and so do her church-going girlfriends, and now, my four-year-old daughter says it). My daughter actually refers to her sacred triangle as her private part in the front, her vagina, or her pocketbook.
At first, I was mortified to speak to my four-year-old about her special pocketbook. I mean, vagina. Well, that’s what we call it when the boys are around (her brother and dad) or when we’re in public, but when it’s just us girls, we call her by her name, Vagina.
While some may think I’m introducing her to one of her most sacred body parts too young, others think I am late to the game, but I think our timing is just right. Yes, her vagina has a nickname, but make no mistake, she understands its proper name, vagina, because nicknaming body parts leads to its own set of issues (that’s another conversation for another day).
I just want her to be as comfortable and confident as possible. I want her to know that her vagina isn’t gross or weird and doesn’t need to be hidden or shunned like some ugly stepchild you hide in the attic when the prince comes to town.
My daughter asks many questions. She wants to know why hers isn’t hairy, but mine is (I may or may not have missed a few NAIR days – judge your mother). She asks me why I wear small diapers (pads) sometimes, and even asks how she should clean it. We even talk about caring for her pocketbook and who is allowed to touch or look at her pocketbook – no one – and what she should do if anyone makes her uncomfortable regarding her body.
If you’re reading this and cringing, don’t worry, I’ve been there. But it’s important to be open to talk about it because the information is so readily available these days. I’d rather her hear it from me first than someone else or an internet source.
I haven’t talked to her about sex or explained the correlation between vaginas, ovaries, and babies, but I’d like to think I’ve made that future conversation a little easier by laying the groundwork. Let’s be honest, our children receive and process information quicker than we ever did growing up. I can only hope she continues to feel free to talk to me as she gets older, but I know it’s my responsibility to make her feel welcome to have these conversations.
For so long, young women, especially Black women, have held these conversations from their daughters out of fear of them becoming promiscuous too soon. While growing up, I never openly discussed my vagina with my mom or other women close to me.
In fact, I recently told my mother about a waxing incident and she was shocked during the entire conversation. She wasn’t disgusted, but she seemed a bit surprised that I was speaking about my experience so freely. After the conversation, she mentioned how embarrassed she felt during the convo but admitted she was happy I spoke to her about it with ease. When she learned about my conversations with my daughter, she was so proud. At that point, I knew I was doing the right thing.
So, I want to challenge all my girl moms to have confident, knowledgeable conversations with your daughters about what’s going on down south (if you haven’t already talked to them about it). If you need some help, I’ve dropped some light reading for you.