I Should’ve Had Sons

My daughter’s 6th grade dance is tonight.  She is really looking forward to it.  It’s in a fancy restaurant. There will be music, and good food.   She’ll dance with her friends, she’ll laugh and sing, and she’ll feel a little more grown up tonight.

When I dropped her off at school this morning, I noticed that a lot of the 6th grade girls are absent today.  Where are they?  They took the day off to get their hair done; streaked, straightened, curled, colored.  They’re going to get their nails done-, fingers and toes.  They’re going to get their faces made up.  They’re going to get waxed.  And some of them are going tanning, so they will look even better in their pictures.

And all of this just fires me up.  It really fires me up!

Now, I believe in to each his own.  And I have no issue with people doing what they feel is right for themselves.  What you choose to do, has nothing to do with me and my personal choices.  We all do things to make ourselves feel better; our hairstyles, our choice of clothes, our make-up, our shoes.  I color my grays, and I hate to leave the house without eyeliner on.  I know we all have our lines that we draw when it comes to our personal appearance.

So why does this fire me up? Why do I care what they are doing?  Why should it bother me?

Because I have daughters.  Beautiful, amazing, strong, smart, and perfect daughters.  And they are growing up in this world that places so much value on physical appearance.   All of this crap that they have been hearing all their lives, from teachers, from Nickelodeon, from Lady Gaga and Pink.  Be Yourself…You’re on the right track, baby, you were born this way…Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever feel less than perfect.   What happened to all of that?

What messages are we really sending to these girls?   Oh, sure, you’re perfect just the way you are. But you could be better.  You would look so much prettier with blonde streaks in your hair.  You will feel so much better about yourself if your nails are done.  You will look healthier with a sprayed on tan.   Just accept it, girls. These are things that we have to do as women.  We have always done these things, and it is time for you to learn to do it now, too.  Because you will be doing it your whole life.  Looking at yourself in the mirror, finding things that could be better, and focusing on them.  Fixing yourself, so that you conform to society’s idea of beauty.  Trying to make yourself more attractive to the world, and especially, to the boys.

And what about the boys?  What are they doing today?  Well, they are all in school.  They will go home later, put on pants and a dress shirt, and comb their hair. Maybe they will remember to put on deodorant and brush their teeth, and then they are off to the dance.

Have we learned nothing from our own lives? Don’t we know, that it is easier to just be happy in our own skin, and accept ourselves the way we are.  Aren’t we the most comfortable when we are home, with the people who really know and love us, shoeless, braless, in old pajama pants, wearing no makeup?

Isn’t it a lot of work, trying to be something we are not?  Isn’t it a burden, always having to live up to the standards of a society that objectifies women?   Aren’t these the very ideals that have been bringing us down, chipping away at our self-esteem day after day, making us feel like we should be thinner, younger, toner, smoother?   Aren’t these the very ideals that keep women just a few steps below men on that ladder, year after year?  Aren’t we feeding into that misogynistic machine? Isn’t it just another way for the patriarchy to keep us down?  What, exactly, are we teaching our daughters?

Holy Rant, Batman! How am I ever going to deal with prom?!

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