I have spent a lifetime being judged by how I look. Not just from others, but from myself as well. I have spent time, money, and energy on perfecting me. I have battled anorexia, binge eating, and spent nights crying when I feel I don’t measure up. It has taken me until recently to jump in and chase after the things I feel passionate about inside. It has taken until the past few years for me to be okay with leaving my house without dressing up, putting on make-up or donning high heels.
Because of my own struggles, I have raised my girls to be fierce. Starting when my oldest was young, I knew I wanted more for my daughters. For every time I wanted to tell them how adorable, or cute, or pretty they were, I held back. Instead, I told them how brave, smart, and strong they were. Because everywhere we went people told them they were pretty.
I don’t want them to battle the mirror their entire lives, constantly trying to live up to the title others bestowed on them. I want them to live out their passions, chase their dreams, and be brave and strong throughout their lives, regardless of what their features grow into.
But, I cannot control how others greet my children. I cannot control other peoples words pushed onto them.
So, I beg you, the next time you are introduced to someone’s daughter, and you are about to spit out those words “You are beautiful” or “What a beautiful little girl” STOP! I can’t help but cringe every time I hear those words, every time they are uttered by another mother, or middle aged man, or distant relative. Those words say nothing, except tell her the standard by which she will be judged for her entire life. They tell her, that this thing that she can’t control is what matter most. They say nothing of her accomplishments, personality, kindness, or love. They say nothing about who she is.
Instead I challenge you to ask her something else. And not simply, “Do you like school?” or “Do you have a boyfriend” But rather something that tells you about who she is, something that shows her that she matters more than what her appearance holds.
“What book are you reading right now?”
“Do you know the names of any constellations?”
“What are writing about in school?”
“Have you been on any adventures this summer?”
“Have you built anything lately?”
“Do you have a favorite musician?”
“What do you do when you are bored?”
“What is your favorite thing to do at home?”
“What kind of math are you working on right now?”
“What are you passionate about?”
Let us give our daughters the opportunity to be more than beautiful, to be more than a pretty face. Let us tell them “WE SEE YOU!” Because our girls matter: their brains, their thoughts, their stories, their everything.
They matter beyond what their beauty holds. Please, don’t spend the beginning of their lives defining them, and making them believe that beauty is worth a lifetime of chasing, but rather show them that life holds knowledge and interest and is worth chasing because of who they are on the inside.
Do it for the you that didn’t get the opportunity.
Do it for me.
Do it for your daughters.
Do it for the generation of women to come who need to know they are more.