About Your Bodies: A Letter to My Daughters
Last night I was brushing my daughter's hair before bed to get the tangles out after their hair-doing adventures before dinner when she exclaimed "ouch! That hurt. We don't need to brush my hair before bed. We never have before." I tried to calmly explain to her (I was exhausted and my patience had been lost hours before) that we should really brush their hair every night before bed just like we brush their teeth because we all need to work together to take better care of their bodies. After all, it's the only body they will ever have!
After tucking them in for the night, I sat down with my iPad and checked into Facebook and was instantly struck by one of my young dancers showing off her new bathing suit. The bathing suit was cute, but it made me think of all the people on the internet that I try to protect my own children from. It made me think of her future and what that picture (and presumably many others) might portray when she is ready for college and work. It made me wonder what she was going for. Was she really just excited for her new bathing suit or what she trying to show off something else?
"Sexiness" was a hot topic in our house a few weeks ago (read about it here) and this prompted me to want to write a letter to my "future" daughters (and young women everywhere):
My Sweet Girls,
There is something really important you need to know about yourself: you're perfect in every way. Every curve, every freckle, every dimple is what makes you uniquely you and is what makes you wonderful.
You have to take care of your body, of yourself. You have to take pride in being clean and healthful but don't focus too much on what's on the outside or what you think others think of you. You don't need make-up or nail polish or fancy clothes or sparkly jewelry to be your best. Sure these things are nice, but I hope you don't ever feel you are incomplete or less than ideal without them.
What is more important is that you are neat and tidy and confident. Believe in who you are and let others seek your shining personality rather than flaunting or relying on your looks. A sincere smile, after all, is the most beautiful accessory one can put on every day.
Let people notice your smile first and hear your kind, thoughtful words. Don't allow them to focus only on how you look and don't portray yourself as less than who you are. You are a whole package, a whole person. Body, mind and soul and while you must nourish and take care of all three, the body part should be the least important to others.
Your body is for you, it is only yours. It is the only thing in the world that you alone control and should be treated as such. You are in control of how people view you and what they think of your body. Do you want them seeing you only as an object for their viewing pleasure or do you want them to respect you and cherish your whole person?
It's hard in today's world to keep your body to yourself. Our culture places a lot of value on sex appeal and believes "if you've got it, flaunt it." I'm not perfect, I got caught up in the flaunting too, when I was young. I made PLENTY of questionable choices (I'll tell you all about them some day) but back then the only person who had to know was the person who developed your film (I'll explain what that means another time!) and once you got your pictures back you'd had time to think about your choices and hide or destroy any regrets.
But now there's the internet where things can be shared without a second thought and spread like wildfire. But just like words once spoken, pictures posted online can't be taken back. So be thoughtful of what you put out there, make sure you are showing people what you want them to see and think about all the people in the world who might see it, not just your best friend or boyfriend. Think about me, your grandfather, your school principal, your future employer and every stranger that may see it unbeknownst to you.
Before I met your daddy I tried to act older and sexier. I thought people would like me better if I wore more make-up or lower cut shirts. Truthfully, I don't know if they did or didn't but I know now that's not who I am and that's not what I want people to remember about me. I want them to remember my caring spirit, my unique ideas and maybe my sarcastic humor but definitely not what color eye shadow I wore or how big my boobs were.
I'll say it again because it is so important: your body is only for you. It is yours to take care of, it is yours to carry through the world, it is yours to share with others as you want. But I hope as you wander through this big and often scary world that you will use your mind for impressing people, your soul for getting their attention and drawing them in and keep your body for hugs and handshakes.
You only get one body in life, treat it like a million dollars. Keep it safe and protected from those who might want to steal from you or be your friend just for what you have and not for what you are.
I love you with all my heart and only want the best things in the world for you,