My almost three year old came into the bathroom. “What are you doing?” “I’m straightening my hair.” Naturally, she asked, “Why?” The words were on the tip of my tongue but I caught them before they left my lips. “Because it makes me feel better about myself.” Do I really want to tell her, my beautiful little girl, that a person’s hair should impact the way they see themselves? Instead I answered her, “Because sometimes I like it when my hair is straight. And sometimes I like it curly. And sometimes I like it when I don’t do it at all.” That last part is a lie. I don’t like it. It doesn’t make me feel good. But the thought of her looking into a mirror with disgust makes my heart ache. This three year old, who knows how great and smart and funny she is, will someday be a fifteen year old. What will she know about herself then? Will she know that if she doesn’t do her hair she is ugly? Will she know that if she eats a cookie she should feel guilty? Will she know that if you don’t look perfect you are not good enough?
Not on my watch. Because I plan on fighting for her. I will fight long and hard. And I’ll do it by telling her that I like my hair straight, curly, or not done at all. I’ll tell her that I don’t mind leaving the house without make up. I’ll tell her that I love to go hiking and swimming and jogging, but that I also love to eat cake. A lot of cake. I’ll tell her that I’m heavier than I was when I got married but I don’t mind. I’ll tell her that sometimes I go swimming without shaving. I’ll tell her that I love my skin. I’ll tell her I know I’m beautiful. And some of these things will be completely true while others I’m working on. But maybe if I tell her these things now she will know them about herself someday. And she will know she is great and smart and funny. And she will know that she is beautiful. Because beautiful is so much more than how you did your hair.