Having a daughter enter the wonderful world of womanhood gave me a front row seat to the jarring reality of how poorly our society had prepared me to prepare her. I think my husband said it best, when I was distracting my son so that my daughter could sneak maxi pads into her suitcase for an upcoming trip. He benignly noted, “How quickly we go from celebrating it to hiding it.” I’d spent years preparing her for the big moment, waylaying her fears and painting a pretty picture of this natural rite of passage. And a few short months later, I’m teaching her how to be stealthy with it at school.
My husband hit the nail on the head.
“How quickly we go from celebrating it to hiding it.”
How do we drive a different dialogue? How do we rewrite the script?
There are several areas of life where I’m a completely hypocritical mother. I speak inspirational things over my daughter about the wonders of womanhood. I tell her to hold her head high, mix her sass and snark in just the right amounts to make moxy. I assert that she shouldn’t be ashamed of what her body does naturally.
But last week I literally hid in a bathroom stall because some younger women were looking all cute and talking about things to which I could no longer relate. I felt old and ugly and lame. There I was, almost 40 years old, cowering in the ladies’ room like a middle school outcast. I try to hold my own with wit and bravado, but mostly I cry because my feelings are hurt or I realize I’ve been unintentionally rude to someone. And the body shame. I SO do not have this figured out. I hide my feminine hygiene products from my husband; I judge pudgy bellies, including my own; I’m not at all proud of or in touch with my body. It’s shame city up in here.
My mom told me I was beautiful. My husband tells me daily. There are even days that I like what I see looking back I the mirror; but most days, not so much. Most days my standard is still stuck on the Barbie channel, and the remote’s busted. From pores to posture, too-thin hair to not-thin-enough thighs, it’s a constant feeling that I’m falling short physically.
So will it work? Are our little ladies destined to the same fate? OR, if we collectively pour into our girls idealistic talk of self-acceptance and comfort in their skin, will we move the needle?