Today, you are six. SIX! Now, on the one hand, you might say you are too young for this letter, and I don’t suppose you’ll ‘get’ it all for some time. But on the other hand, there are a few things I want to share with you, because being a girl is hard. Already, I see how you study yourself in the mirror, shoulders rolled and lips full. How you layer trinkets and skirts and perfume, then check all angles before strutting away. You ask for your hair to be styled this way and that. It’s as amusing as it is terrifying. And that’s partly the reason for this letter.
Now of course, being your mother, I am sodden with bias and love. But I am also a woman, a wife, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a niece and a friend. And that is why I want to share the following things that I think are important for you to know:
- You are more than the sum of trinkets and pretty dresses. They are lovely, and you should enjoy them, but they are not the only things to aspire to.
- When we laugh at something you say, it is because you are smart and funny and that is good.
- Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. It is not determined by magazines, dress size, hair colour or weight. It is not driven by gender or race or sexual orientation.
- Ugly has nothing to do with how you look and everything to do with how you act.
- Princesses have a shit life. I know you think pretty dresses and a butler would be great…. And yes, it probably would, but that’s pretty much all it has going for it.
- Don’t body shame. Anyone. Full stop.
- Don’t judge, and when you do – because it’s hard not to – think twice before you open your mouth.
- The towels live on the rail, not on the floor. Novel, I know.
- Don’t watch/read 50 Shades of Grey – and if you do, remember that it is not an example of love or even the good sort of lust. It is an example of control and emotional abuse. This is my opinion, but it is also shared by people who have been there, and people who support those who have been there.
- Being a dance teacher is a great job, there are lots of others too. You are fortunate that because of the society you were born in to, you can do anything you want, literally anything! Just imagine that.
- Your body is yours. You can say yes or no to whatever you like. But if you say No, you have the right to be heard. Question those who try to overrule you. If they can’t give a reasonable explanation, walk away.
- Commuting to work on a horse may be an unrealistic aspiration. Unless you plan a career as an Equestrian. In which case, we should work on your fear of large animals.
- Don’t stress about who you should marry. You don’t have to make that decision yet. Marriage is not a pre-requisite to life in any case. That said, it’s nice to do with the right person at the right time.
- Your brother is the greatest brother you could have. Fact.
- You are loved. By many. Because you are smart and funny and kind and cheeky and determined and focussed and loving. That is why you are beautiful.
You have taught me much in your six years, as has your big brother in his nine. These are some pointers in return.
Happy Birthday. I love you.