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The Day My 5-Year-Old Told Me He Had Watched Topless Women on YouTube

March 6, 2018

This is my son, Monroe. He is warm, dramatic, funny, and always full of questions! From wondering why God made tornadoes if they can hurt people (good one, buddy!), to how images arrive on TV, and too many questions about science and dinosaurs that I have no clue about, I always find myself scrambling to figure out what to say. Of course, if I say that I don’t know he just tells me to “Google it up, mom!”. I love his inquisitive mind, and his questions about humanity, his feelings, and God become beautiful moments where we talk and explore different ideas together. However, today’s post is not about one of those questions.

The other day, Monroe asked me a question, and I had never been so stuck on how I should answer it.

“Mom, why do some girls wrestle with their shirts off?”


My mind was racing, and then I realized that he could just be thinking of little girls his age playing at home without their shirts on. Ok, that’s probably it I thought.

“Well, when girls are little they sometimes like to run around and play at home with their shirts off like you Monroe.”

“No, no mom, not that. I mean grown-up girls. Why do they wrestle with their shirts off?”

So, I was wrong. He was talking about grown women wrestling with their shirts off. What in the world! Where had he seen this?! I had never sat my son down to watch a movie with topless women wrestling! How the heck do I handle this?!

I try to be careful of my reactions when I first hear him repeat or share things that concern me. Like the time he was running around screaming “D-mn it! D-mn it! D-mn it!” at a family Christmas party. Oops! I want him always to be comfortable asking me questions and telling me what is going on in his life. That means being considerate of him and taking the time to talk through situations instead of shaming him. In regards to the wrestling, I also wanted to be sure I didn’t shame the women he had seen. So I started as naturally as I could when answering his question about topless wrestlers without going into women’s liberation or sex in the entertainment industry. Or explaining that naked breasts are more than just for mommy’s milk. You know, trying to keep on topic for a 5-year-old.

“Well, um, sometimes women choose to do that because they think its fun, but it’s not something a lot of women do. ”

“And mom, their underwear went all the way up their bottom! It was so funny!”

My goodness.

He is cracking up and dancing, imitating the wrestlers and trying to hike up his underwear.

“Oh, ok. That’s interesting. Actually, its something that’s only for adults to see. Plus, it’s not something we watch in our family. And it’s not something I do. Where did you see this Monroe?”

“On YouTube!”

“You mean, just a little bit ago when you were downstairs with Daddy?”


Argh!!!! Earlier the three of us had been watching different Super Bowl commercials together, and I had gone upstairs to get some work done. After more probing, I found out that Monroe was continuing to watch YouTube videos, sitting right next to my husband, Peter, as he worked on his iPad. How did this happen? Didn’t Peter know that letting your 5-year-old browse YouTube on his own was asking for trouble! What was he thinking?!

Monroe and I finished talking about the videos, and by the end, he understood that the videos were inappropriate for him to watch. He also knew he wasn’t in trouble and I was glad he told me about them. Monroe quickly transitioned back to playing and was happily running around the house again, just not hiking up his underwear anymore. Peter had already left for the day, so I knew we would need to discuss this when he got back. I still couldn’t believe he had let Monroe explore YouTube all by himself! Didn’t Peter know what a bad idea it was?! Who was I kidding, of course he didn’t! I am the one who reads all the articles about kid safety, who knows to talk about “tricky people” instead of just strangers, who made him buy wall straps for all our furniture, and knows that even YouTube Kids could be dangerous without supervision! I mean, without me, there is no telling what would happen to my child! We would have to talk when he got home.

That night, after Monroe was in bed, I brought his poor parenting to his attention. With a kind and gentle voice, of course.

“Hey, were you letting Monroe watch Youtube by himself after I left today?”

“Yes, but I was right next to him, so I knew what he was watching.”


“So you knew that he was watching topless women wrestle?!!!” I was not happy.

“What?! He didn’t watch that!”

“Well, he said he did! He described their thongs and everything! I had no idea what to say so hopefully I did ok talking to him about it! I can’t believe you let him watch it!”

A look of realization spread across Peter’s face. He started laughing.

“What? What’s so funny?”

“He was watching a commercial with sumo wrestlers. That’s what he saw. I was not letting him watch topless women wrestle.”

The lightbulb went off in my head. Sumo wrestlers. Sumo wrestlers!!! It all made sense now! Peter continued,

“He must have thought they were women because of their large chests! And long hair. And the thongs are those things the sumo wrestlers wear. You had a talk with him about real women topless wrestlers?”

“Uh. Yes. Oh boy. I guess Monroe knows that’s a thing now.”

We both laughed so hard! Poor kid! He wouldn’t even have known that topless women wrestling was a thing if it weren’t for me!!!! We realized he didn’t even think to talk about how large the wrestlers were (which might have been a clue for me!) because we’ve talked to him about how we don’t discuss peoples body sizes. How was he to know that the wrestlers with the large chests weren’t women? The next day I showed him a photo of sumo wrestlers and asked if that was who he was watching yesterday. He said “Yes. Mom, I don’t want to see that! Why are you showing them to me!” He was so uncomfortable after the conversation we had! I scarred him for life from sumo wrestling. I explained to him that they weren’t women but men, and told him about sumo wrestling. I let him know it was ok for him to watch. He was still hesitant, so we just moved on, and he started acting like a dinosaur again.

The moral of the story? Who knows! I’m sure there’s a deep one somewhere in there. For me though, it’s not to assume that my minister husband, someone who has proven to be trustworthy for the more than 12 years we’ve been together, is not showing my 5-year-old videos of naked women. Thank goodness.


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Why We Must Learn To Love Ourselves-Original

September 28, 2017

*This is the original version of the post Why We Must Learn To Love Ourselves that includes a reference to the current politics at the time of posting. While I still completely stand by this post and what I shared, and the conversation in the comments, I re-wrote it to exclude this reference. My original intent in sharing this was that women (and men) can be reminded of their true value in this world and that we learn to see the value in ALL people no matter their belief system. In including the political reference I can see how this message can turn into a debate that wasn’t intended when I wrote it. I stand by my beliefs and observations here, but also believe a lot of the hate I stand against in this world can change when we learn to love ourselves and others fully. I also encourage you to read the comments here, I believe they are an example of how good conversation from polarizing views can begin.*


I created this self-portrait several months ago and have been hesitant to share it for many reasons. I had been contemplating the idea of Imago Dei, or The Image of God for weeks. Imago Dei is a theological term that states that we are all made in the image of God. The implications of knowing this and genuinely believing it can be staggering and life-changing. To look into the eyes of someone who is different than you in every way possible, from beliefs and morals to appearance and class, and know that they reflect the image of God can turn how you see someone upside down.

As I reflected on this notion, I began to realize that for so long there was one person who I struggled with seeing God in the most. That person was me. From years of being raised and participating in a spiritual environment that considered sharing the love of God akin to convincing someone they were shameful, how I viewed myself was from an incredibly distorted lens. Rather than acknowledging, accepting, or moving forward from mistakes, or imperfections in my life, deep down I believed I was a mistake. My makeup was a mistake, my personality, my character, who I was made to be was a mistake. I was full of shame to my core.

I have spent the past 15 years slowly working my way out of this pit, through counseling, small groups, relearning what I believed about God, and a lot of self-reflection. I used to think that loving yourself was equal to self-centeredness, and often Christians bemoan the ideas of self-care or self-love and call it sinful. However, I now see these things as essential to begin to love anyone else. How can you see the worth and dignity of someone so different than you if you can’t even see it in yourself? How can you love a God and his creation if you see it as entirely flawed?

Throughout the years during my relearning, I had so many questions and doubts. I became fed up and hurt by others in a subset of Christian culture that became oppressive to me, but still held on to my faith. What ultimately kept me hanging on was seeing an open and unconditional love in the person of Jesus that I have not seen anywhere else. I also found a beautiful way to live, when taught from this base of unconditional love, through what is at the core of His teachings. What is at the core of his teachings? To love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. It rolls off the tongue so easily, but to put into practice is so hard. Loving your neighbor, loving those who are different, loving your family, loving those that have done great harm. It can be incredibly hard. But we hardly talk about that last part, for many the most difficult part, the part where you love yourself. And to love others fully, and properly, you have to be able to do that. If you can’t see that you are worthy, that you are deserving, that you are made in the image of God and loved by Him, how can you find value and worth in others, especially others you don’t understand.

So I made this image. It is me, standing strong, and facing out into the world. This is me knowing that I am full of imperfections, that I’ve made mistakes, but I am loved, lovable, and worthy. This is the same person whose culture told her that she is disobeying God by having anxiety and worry. That she is not pretty. Not smart. Incapable. That she was the last person they had expected would do anything with her life. That she is too quiet and shy. That she is too opinionated and loud. That she is not good enough, and never will be. This is the same woman that had to fight to be heard in her career as a photographer. That was shown she could never teach men about God because of her gender. That when she started to use her voice, her shakey timid voice, she received screams, letters, accusations, and worse, rejection from those she loved. Most of all, this is a woman who is learning to love herself.

For some people, loving themselves comes easy. So easy in fact that they only love themselves and no one else. However, for many of us, it takes work and patience and courage to learn to love ourselves. I see this particularly in women, this struggle to know and respect our value. Over and over again, women are told, through words, actions, and media that their bodies and voices are not respected in this world. Their bodies are too much, their words too much, their anger, their sadness, their hurt, TOO MUCH.

I looked at this photo today to remind me of who I am, and that who I am has value in the world. After Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing yesterday, I felt a sense of despair in how Dr. Christine Ford was treated. How once again, a victim was guilty until proven innocent and a woman was shown that her story and voice didn’t matter. She was treated with disdain and dismissal without the world seeing the Imago Dei in her.

I’m not here to argue or debate what happened in the Senate yesterday, only to share my sadness in what I witnessed. However, with that sadness, built in me a desire to remind the women reading this that each of you have immense value and worth. If you are afraid of being who you were created to be or feel shame for who you are, know that you are loved fully and completely. That if you are afraid of being too much, remember that you are enough. That whether you are quiet, or loud, whether you are married or single, or passionate or even-keeled, you are made to be you. You don’t have to hide who you are. Your voice is essential, your body is important, you being here and a part of this crazy life is imperative.

I still struggle to see myself through a lens of love and probably always will. But I will continue to remind myself and others of the truth of our value no matter what the world says. Women, let us remember today our worth, no matter what others may say. No matter what our government says, or our abusers say, or unfortunately for many, what our churches say. If your worth and value and dignity are questioned, please know that you are listening to a lie.

I challenge you today to take an image of yourself, just for you. Don’t be afraid to stand firm and bold and be proud while you take it. Forget the naysayers and how awkward it can feel taking a self-portrait. Don’t think about the quality, this is just for you and you are in control. Look at your photo and try to see past what you consider your flaws. Look past the parts of you that you hate, that you want to change. Look beyond memories and shame that haunt you and see that there’s love and beauty there. Look at your image and say “I am made in the Image of God.” Those curves, that hair, that skin, that nose that you may hate. It is the image of God that resides in there. You are loved fully and completely. You are valuable. You are worthy. You are not a mistake.

*Let me know if you took an image of yourself today and how it made you feel, being in control. Leave a comment here or send me a message, I would love to hear from you.


Whitney Leigh Carlson

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