I don’t have daughters, but I like to think that I play an integral role in the lives of women around me – friends, family, daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, and more.
So when I had the opportunity to accompany my niece to find a homecoming dress this weekend, what I saw from our daughters – society’s daughters – broke my heart.
And here we are.
To the girl who tried on every dress and tugged, pulled, and prodded, to cover every inch of her sixteen-year-old body – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the insecurity we passed on to your generation. I’m sorry for the invisible shame you feel about your own body – so much so that selecting a dress is a painful reminder of the areas you feel so self conscious about.
To the girl who always seemed to be looking for the approval of her friends – and who even changed her mind on a dress because of their disapproval – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that we’ve shown you that what others think about you means so much. That our value in culture seems to be dependent on the opinions of others. I’m sorry that instead of marching proudly out of the dressing room with your selection – that instead you sheepishly put back your choice because the court of public opinion told you so.
To the girl who struggled to find a dress that fit her frame – knowing full well that your choices were limited in this dress shop – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that we’ve built a fashion culture around the ideal woman. That because of that, your dress options are limited and that you are relegated to the leftovers rather than your first choice.
To the girl who struggles to find the perfect dress in an effort to attract a boy she likes – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that we have not worked harder to help our boys look beyond outward appearances. I’m sorry that we have made you feel like you have to be something you’re not just to steal a glance from the campus favorite.
Your insecurity is our own. It is one we carry every day – the one that makes us look in the mirror and pull down a shirt. It is the one when we survey a room to see if everyone nods their head yes in approval. It is the one that makes us feel like the outcast and the outsider. It is the one that causes us to seek the approval of others and men – encouraging us to find our value in someone else.
I am sorry we carry the weight of insecurity and that in doing so, we pass that down to you.
But that stops here.
Because for all the times we could not do it for ourselves, we have an opportunity to help you do it for you and in doing so, perhaps we could learn a thing or two ourselves.
You are valuable – your worth is inherent.
The only approval you need is from yourself – love yourself first and the rest will follow.
You are not a number on a scale – you are not an appearance in a mirror. You are uniquely and wonderfully made and you are YOU – a true one of a kind – as you are – who you are – and in the true form you were meant to be.
You owe no man or woman anything. You owe yourself the world. Your value does not increase because of your connection to someone. You are inherently valuable – to this life, to this world, in existence.
And I am sorry we have not worked harder to make sure you know that, but it is my life’s quest to make sure you always know – to know that we will never let you down again.
You are beautifully, wonderfully YOU.
And the world is beautifully better because you are in it – just as you are.
Well done, my friend.
I wish people were around to tell us this as kids and teens.
Kathleen Buckley says
This brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful and (unfortunately) necessary.