Dear Little Girl,
You were born into a world that other little girls were not. Girls who were aborted on the basis of gender, abandoned at birth because they weren’t the boy their parents dreamt of, ignored because their father didn’t understand them. Your mother waited 41 long years for you and didn’t care whether you were male or female – just as long as you came into the world breathing. She cherished you enough to bring you into this world. Your mother chose life. Your life.
At 18 months you had your cheeks pinched and your hair ruffled while the adults congratulated your mother on having a pretty baby. Already you were taught that not conforming to standards of beauty was unacceptable. But instead of pristine dresses and flowers in your hair, before you even had hair to put them in, you were dressed in dungarees and leggings and allowed to play in the dirt if you wanted. You learned that you were perfectly capable .
At three years old you were handed a Barbie doll at playschool and expected to know what to do with it. At home there were no Barbies. There were colours and words and textures and happy songs and bright lights and animal noises and fresh air. You wanted to be just like your big sister because she knew everything there was to know. You learned that you had your own mind and an unbridled thirst for learning.
At 10 you were told to follow the crowd, go to the same high school, wear the same clothes and watch the same trashy TV shows as everyone else. But instead you chose your own school and went there without knowing anyone. It didn’t bother you, you made new friends quickly because you had no qualms about introducing yourself and no fear of being rejected. Your smart uniform confirmed your place in the world. You learned that you were somebody.
At 13 the world told you that you weren’t good enough for it, that you were too short and too fat and didn’t have flawless skin, and for the first time you heard it. Gone were the days when your mother could protect you. She didn’t stand a chance against the stampede of other girls your age trampling her to the ground and crushing her message in their wake. Girls who experienced the onslaught themselves and found that the only way to survive was to join in and be swept along. You learned that you were nobody.
At 16 the sea of oppression threatened to swallow you up. The constant criticism and judgement merged with your own thoughts. But then… the hand reached down and grasped yours. You were pulled up from the murky depths. The voice spoke loud and clear: “You are my child, and I am pleased with you.” You learned that, actually, you had value.
At 18 the world pushed you to settle for a life of mediocrity because you could never succeed. But for once you found strength within to block it out. You went to university and rediscovered the world of knowledge your mother unveiled all those years ago. You learned that you had a voice. Like your mother before you, you chose life.
At 21 you’ll be pushed towards the high-flying graduate career. You’ll be warned that because you’re a woman you have to fight for every last ounce of acceptance. Don’t listen. Forge your own path. You still have a lot to learn, and a whole life to learn it in. Embrace it.
Don’t let the world hold you back. You were put here for such a time as this. Be a woman. Be an individual. Be yourself.
Dear Little Girl, run free.
All my love,