To My Daughter from the Time of 'Me Too'
Photographer Sara Weir shared with us, ”This beautiful take on friendship between women celebrates the support and unique relationship found there.” I found this editorial such a powerful reflection of the current times—both culturally and personally. These images landed in my inbox during the season of Me Too and it's publish date, just after my daughter's second birthday. The idea and imagery drew some things from my heart that I hope to instill in my daughter—ideas about becoming a woman who supports other women, and, I decided to share with you a personal essay, a letter, to my daughter from the time of Me Too.
Dear, sweet girl,
I am typing this the very hour you were born two years ago. My dear January baby, just like the month—after a long winter of waiting for a child, you were as exciting and full of hope as that magical stroke of a New Year's Eve midnight.
Unlike the exhausting 26th hour to finally deliver you, this hour in my office with tea is quiet. These times, after just two short years, are different. And as I think about the world I'm raising you in, what it's becoming, there are some very deep-hearted hopes I have for who you are becoming.
I have hope for this world we've welcomed you in, don't get me wrong. There's a new moon right now, and the moon, the stars, the seasons always remind me that time is fleeting and things are always changing. And they can change for good.
But, my darling girl, I have more hope for you and what good you can bring into this world if you so choose to stay true to your own beautiful magic.
You see, right now there is a conversation going on about respecting women. And it's good. It's good that truth is being shared. It's very good that women are taking back their respect and finding courage and hope from each other to talk about things that can be very difficult to share.
And, I think about you, precious baby, how can I give you the clarity and strength to take that responsibility so you can always feel confident to be honest, forthcoming and demand to be treated with decency, always. How can I teach you that sooner rather than later?
Something I've noticed in these conversations, very subtly, is not only the lack of respect between men and women but something that I feel much more often—it's the lack of respect between women and other women.
I'm sure you'll study about this in school, I hope, but there has for too long been a climate amongst women stimulated by things like advertising, media, etc. to pit women against each other.
It's been designed that womanhood is like one big beauty pageant of sorts—there's only one crown and we have to compete against one another to be the prettiest, the thinnest, the smartest, the most successful. I know men feel competition, but there's something very odd, disturbing, about how common it is for women to be emotionally and anxiously competitive against one another.
By the time you read this, I'm sure you'll recognize this feeling. And, unfortunately, I think it's one of the reasons women may not feel safe to share very difficult things. Having an 'incident' could make them seem weak, attention-seeking, or the worst, accused of “asking for it.”
I do not care how, when or what—know that you can always share difficult things with me and your dad no matter what. You can always come home.
However, I have so much hope for you and what you can bring to this world so these conversations become less hidden in the shadows and these 'incidents' become less frequent. What can you bring? A new vision.
My hope is that one day, you learn to compare—looking for the beauty in others to admire and not to measure up.
My hope is that one day, you learn to compete—looking to lift the level of excellence in yourself, not to beat someone else.
I just feel like if we truly, honestly, made ourselves, us women, rise above the cliques and cattiness, the gossip and the, really, the jealous plight to the non-existent crown; if we looked at the big picture instead of little pictures on our phone; if we followed truth instead of anxieties...we could create a safer space.
Bad men will always be bad men. But, they can't get away with bad behavior for very long if we feel confident or have that support of confidence, to demand justice. And I feel like we can start that, you my daughter, can start that by simply not falling for the lie that it is natural for women to be against one another. That is not natural.
I have to tell you a story. The other day, I watched you dance to Beauty and the Beast playing on our TV. And, all I could think about was Emma Watson's skin. She has freckles like mine, but hers looked so good. I don't always like mine. And she doesn't have a double-chin like me. And she doesn't have baby weight like me.
Anyways, I'm sitting there in jeans and dry shampooed hair watching you dance thinking about how Emma Watson has better skin than me and how frumpy of mom I must look to you compared to this Disney Princess...so on and so forth. I was falling into the comparison trap and starting to feel bitter about Belle.
You stop dancing and ask me to dance, so I dance with you. We start laughing. I start to forget my insecurities comparing my skin routine to a celebrity. Then you stop in the middle of your twirling and say, “Pretty.”
I replied, “I know, Belle is so pretty.”
You look at Belle, point to her and say “Pretty!”
You then hold my face and say, “Mama pretty.”
I then said tearfully, “And Hadley pretty.”
It was such a powerful moment of seeing that yes, we are all pretty. We are all good. The Disney Princess is pretty. The joyful mom is pretty. The dancing baby is pretty.
And I just wanted so bad to bottle this moment for you on the days when you, like me, start discounting your worth because of some other woman's shininess. Everyone gets their own crown.
Once we realize that, when you realize that, that's when we'll really be unstoppable at creating more light in this world—together.