Calling It Like It Is: Anatomy Edition


Penis. Vagina. Anus. Testicles. Breasts.

Uncomfortable yet? Maybe a little nervous? Don’t be!

In my household, we call it like it is. This also applies to body parts.

The first time I referred to my daughter’s vagina (quite appropriately on the changing table) in front of my mom she looked like I had just told a kid Santa wasn’t real. She had a shocked look across her face mixed with disgust and confusion.

“What did you just call it?”
“A vagina, Mom. It’s a vagina.”
“It’s called a woo. Please don’t use that other nasty word around me.”

As you can tell from that conversation, I was not raised in an environment where body parts were called their clinical names. Every time I heard them, I would cringe. I remember my first time at the gynecologist’s office feeling so uncomfortable when she was naming things off. It made the experience so much more stressful than it needed to be.

I don’t blame my mom at all for this. She comes from a generation where you didn’t talk about body parts this way. Nicknames were made up so no one was uncomfortable, or to make sure a child didn’t repeat words that would mortify a parent when around company. But part of being an adult is when you know better, you do better. By calling body parts exactly what they are, you are actually helping your child. Let me explain why.

body parts

Taking Control of Your Body

By using clinic names, it allows a child to take control of their body. They can feel empowered, and in return, have a enhances positive body image with more confidence. By using cutesy names older kids can easily become embarrassed when the clinical names are said (cue awkward snickering in health class). Also by not using the clinical names, it makes it feel like a child can’t talk about it. Correct terms can allow kids to be more comfortable asking questions because it eliminates the embarrassment of using made-up names for their body parts.

A Tool to Protect Against Sexual Abuse

This isn’t a pleasant subject no matter how you look at it, and I’m not going to pretend like it is. It is an awful situation that no person should ever be in, especially a child.

Most molesters won’t use clinical terms with their victims. They will almost always use a nickname for the child’s body part. If my child comes home saying something that is not the word vagina, I will know right away that something is really wrong and can further investigate.

It is also helpful for situations where a child is being abused. Again, not something us parents want to think about. If a child can use clinical terms to identify where they are being touched, it will be easier to get to the bottom of the situation. If the child is using terms that are nicknames, it might also make abuse go unnoticed because no one will know what they are talking about.

We don’t call a hand a “touchy” or a nose a “sniffy.” That just sounds silly! We use the names they have been assigned by the English language. By following the same principle, shouldn’t all of our body parts follow suit?

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Kristin Latchaw
I am a born and raised Cincinnatian, and I love this city and everything it has to offer. I'm married to my wonderful husband, Joe, and our daughter is a spunky, opinionated toddler named Rozlyn. I was raised a West Sider, but moved northeast shortly before marriage. My husband teases that West Side roots run deep, and I cannot go anywhere without seeing someone I know! I love exploring the city with my little family. Some of the most fun we have had together is when we just get up and see where the day takes us. I am embracing my current role as a SAHM and constantly learning as I go!


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