I've written bunches of blog posts on how negative popular opinions on the female body have affected me. Now that I have a daughter, it bothers me even more that she will have to deal with some f***ed up prejudices in her life. I want to pass along advice, wisdom, and hopefully self-esteem to the little girl I'm sending out into the big bad world, so I'm writing letters to her that convey my hopes, wisdom, and advice for her future. If you guys don't mind, I'm going to share them online because I think they are relevant to all women, not just my little girl.
Dear the Kid,
I held you the other day in front of the mirror when I was getting ready to go somewhere. You have just started to notice there is a reflection with two people, so I said to you, "You are strong, smart, and beautiful, in that order." It's vital to me that you know that being strong is the most important thing I will work to foster in you.
Personal strength allows you to be kind, have hope, and to persevere in the hard times you are bound to encounter. Strength will carry you forward in ways that intelligence and beauty never will. Be strong and when you aren't strong, let me and the people who love you be strong for you. If you are kind, have hope, and persevere, you will attract even more strong people to help hold up your burdens in life.
I hope like all parents that you will be smart because knowledge can only grow with time. You have better choices in life if you are smart, and you can understand yourself and the world around you with deep insight. Having that insight can be hard because not everyone will see and understand what you do, but it is ultimately a gift. Even if you aren't as intelligent as I think and hope, use whatever measure of this gift you've been given to recognize the difference between what is changeable and what is not. The world is a harsh place, and you can bend with it using your strength and intelligence.
Know that you are beautiful to me from top to toe. I hope you view yourself this way one day, too. As you grow up, you will be told mean things about your appearance. You will age, and your face and body will change in ways you will find difficult. And, you will confront a popular notion that your physical beauty is more important than your inner beauty. Remember that it isn't.
I dream of building you a world that views women as capable of anything and deserving of equality no matter how they look, but I know that is likely impossible. Instead, I endeavor to raise you as a young woman who can use her strength and intelligence to look beyond any differences or imperfections in her physical self. And, if you stumble into a place of negativity and self-doubt regarding your own beauty, I will help you to draw on that strength and intelligence to move beyond it.
With unending, bottomless love,