Note to my girls
I have two step daughters and three nieces and there are a few things I want them to know.
The first thing: you are not here to be decorative. People will comment on your looks. They will compliment your figure, and tell you that you’re pretty. You will hear other women complaining and comparing, fretting and fighting with their bodies, trying to make them thinner, younger, firmer, fitter.
Your body is your strength and your greatest ally. Treasure it, fill out its corners, and expand its capabilities. Love it and never let anyone tell you that it needs to be different.
Beauty is helpful because society rewards it. But it is a distraction from the real work of becoming who and what you’re meant to be.
So be beautiful (you are) but know that this is not your purpose. You are not a painting or a statue. Your face and your body are not here for other people’s viewing pleasure. It is an all-terrain vehicle that you get to steer. I hope you go far.
Secondly, you can touch and be touched if you want to, but you can also tell people to stop touching you. Your body is yours. You are the queen of its territories and you control the armies of words and physicality. Say yes if you want to. Say no if you want to.
People will tell you that both responses are wrong.
Your body is entirely yours. Defend it, love it, play with it and delight in the things it can do. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that what you want is wrong.
Thirdly, find good female role models and follow their lead. Ask them for guidance and help.
Your search criteria: strength, intelligence, independence, kindness, resilience and a sense of humour.
They are everywhere. Your family and friends. Your teachers. Your friend’s mums and grandmothers.
There are lousy role models everywhere too – on TV, YouTube, in the playground. They will make you feel small and weak.
Know this, my beloved girls: the world is changing and it us who will change it. Never again will your gender define your destiny. Stand up, be proud and focus on being strong, kind and smart because this is the currency of success.
What do you want the girls in your life to know?