If I’m lucky enough to have you, I have only one lesson to teach. Two simple words that run very deep: Look within.
The first time someone who doesn’t love you will talk about you; they will say, “It’s a girl.” They will never know who you will grow up to be, how smart and funny you will be or what your favourite food or lip colour will be. They will always only know that you are a girl.
That doctor will not be the only person that sees you as nothing more than a girl. You will meet hundreds of people in your lifetime and many more will ever only catch a glimpse of you and they will see a girl, a female, or a woman. Of course they will; that is what everyone can see that you are. But in this mad world that you will one day live in, a lot is attached to being a girl. Being a girl is not a weakness or defect but for some reason being a girl gets you special treatment.
For example, being a girl means that you have to call yourself a female boss, female president or female cop. However, you will never have to call yourself a female socialite, a female whore or a female model. The beauty industry generates billions in revenue and even more in insecurities. You will one day notice that there is a unique pressure on women to be beautiful.
Before you know it, your friends will stop calling you “funny” and start calling you “hot.” You’ll be advised to wear your hair down because, you didn’t notice it before but you do look really gorgeous and grown up with your hair like that. Plucking your eyebrows will be strongly recommended. You will be asked why you don’t wear tight jeans like the other girls. Before you even experience sex, you will know that you are sexy because somebody said you are. And you will be the sexiest of them all. You see how all these guys clamber about your blonde friend and learn quickly the alluring effect of changing your hair and bras that feel like scatter cushions – like all the heroines in teenage rom-coms do before finding true love with the impossibly perfect guy.
I remember one day complaining that I seemed to get no compliments on Instagram for my picture in a boardroom before a business meeting but my selfies always seem to get the people talking. I ranted on Twitter about how men complain about women who pride themselves on superficial attention but are the very patrons of these women’s vanity. I was promptly told, “Sadie come on, this is the Internet – we’re here for hot chicks.”
My love, before you accept that you are beautiful someone is going to tell you you’re one of the #TopTenHottiesOnTwitter. Your sexuality is going to be imposed on you before you have even figured it out and it’s going to be the thing people use to measure you. When you make a mistake, fail or say something wayward they will attribute it to what you look like. Your beauty will become a beacon with which others will measure your character and your intelligence. It’s absurd, I know, but I told you women have privileges. My best friend was asked in high school “Kristen you’re so beautiful, why do you play hockey?” You will start to hear things like “you don’t look like a medical student.” (Not that I’m telling you to go to medical school, but if you want to that’s GREAT!)
I’m not telling you that you can’t enjoy being beautiful, I’m telling you that beauty is not only subjective but luck of the draw and to pride yourself on something you have not earned will lead you astray. Let them enjoy your beauty, let them fight for it, speculate about it and drive themselves insane with it. Let them obsess about this little thing you put no effort into. All the while my love, remember to look within. What is your source of strength? Where does your confidence come from? Who are you when you are not beautiful?
Before you had your mother’s curly hair you had a heartbeat. Before you had your father’s eyes you had a soul. Before we knew you were a girl, we loved you simply for being our child.