Because I don’t have a daughter but would really love one, I want to have a series of posts for an imaginary daughter. Here’s the first one, a letter to her.
Dear Imaginary Daughter,
I don’t know if I’ll ever have you for real, but in case I do, I want to make you a few promises:
I promise to give you the rainbow. Pink and purple are beautiful, but so are gold and grey and forest green and summer sky blue and deep red and flaming orange. Your room, your clothes, your toys, your life will be open to all colours, because colours are for everyone.
I promise to give you the same range of toys your brothers currently have. The dolls, the play food, the puzzles and the car wash and the basketball net and the Playmobil family, the art supplies and the buckets and shovels, the magnifying glass and the globe and the stuffed toys. I’ll let you be free to like the ones you like as you grow and learn and change.
I promise to teach your brothers to relate to you and the rest of your gender as people, not as stereotypes. To not call each other “girl” as an insult, to include you in their activities, to speak up if those around them belittle or dismiss you. I promise to read them stories and show them movies with girls as main characters because it would do both you and them a disservice to teach them to overlook the ideas, input, and value of half the people on earth.
I promise to teach you math and science and sports and to never let you think you are somehow disqualified from learning these fascinating subjects or using your body to it’s full potential because you are a girl.
I promise to dress you practically. There’s nothing wrong with being fancy sometimes, but for everyday: when you’re a little tender baby I’ll dress you simply and comfortably in cosy sleepers; no floral elastic headbands, baby tutus, or unnecessary ruffles to fold up under you. When you’re an active one-year-old I promise you won’t have to wear dresses that catch under your feet as you try to learn to stand up or crawl. When you’re a hard-going toddler I promise your clothes will be sturdy enough to take whatever activities you can throw at them and I promise not to be precious about dirt and grime with you any more than I am about your brothers’ clothes. I promise to never teach you that looking pretty is more important than learning, being kind, or being strong and healthy and active.
I promise to love my body and to love yours. I promise to be proud of what my body is capable of, to own my weight (160, right now), to use food for nourishment and for enjoyment and not connect it to punishment or shame, and I promise to do everything in my power to keep the world’s toxic messages about what beauty is (skinny and sexualised and expensive) and how much energy you should give it (the lion’s share) drowned out by messages about inner beauty, my unconditional love and God’s unconditional love, and how much energy you should devote to loving and helping others and using your potential.
And if I never get to meet you, maybe this will find its way to some real-life daughters and their real-life mamas. Here’s hoping!