|Image: Ebony Magazine|
Dear baby girl,
When I look at you, I am almost bursting with joy! Wow! I am thankful for you and I cannot help but bask in the awesomeness of having someone like me spring forth from me. To have the opportunity to influence you means the world to me. I love you baby girl!
I have to let you into some of the drama you might face as you chart your way in the world.
First, I am not going to start you off with such nonsense like, ‘girls should or shouldn’t…’ There is absolutely nothingthat you can’t do! So if you want to play football (though dad and I will prefer basketball), go to military school, be an astronaut, engineer or play with dolls and make-up, we will support you. The only thing we demand of you (and your brother) is that you study and research every single day! Be assured that I will start reading to you from the womb and from age 1, you will probably start reading yourself.
As you grow older, people will tell you that it is your place to do house chores; to clean, cook, do the laundry and whatnot. Well, they are wrong! It is not your place to do that! In our home, we will alldo chores; dad, you, your brothers and me. Chores will not be something we do out of duty but out of love for one another. I will not have you cooking while your brother is playing games. You will both be with me or dad in the kitchen whenever we are cooking until you are old enough to be on the family cooking schedule.
You need to know that you are beautiful just the way you are and no one could have put it better than Bruno Mars. No matter where your skin color falls on the human skin chart, YOU ROCK! Don’t let anyone tell you that you are ugly because you are African. Trust me, they will try! You need to know that your skin, be it anywhere from albino to dark-skinned, is glorious, beautiful and blessed! You don’t need a lighter skin to be beautiful. Hence, it will really disappoint me if you decide to bleach your skin to fit into the warped views of people who know no better.
If you come out carrying my kind of hair, hair that has been called ‘nappy’, ‘unprofessional’, ‘unattractive’, ‘unappealing’ and in some cases, ‘disgusting’, I will like you to embrace your it just the way it is. Almost everyone will tell you to relax it, cover it with a weave or wig or just keep it under a scarf. They will want you to do anything but rock your natural hair. Pay no mind to them! You can wear your hair in an afro, braids, Bantu knots, twists, twist-outs, dreads or even low cut. Thankfully, there is a natural hair movement sweeping across the globe and even cultural appropriative people are jumping on it. What I am not sure of is how long this will last. In spite of whether it is trending or not, I want you to always know that your skin, hair and look is a beauty ideal.
If you want to wear makeup, that is fine by me. If you want the whole nine beauty yards – nails, lashes, skin, makeup and hair – then be sure that we will provide them for you as is reasonable. I just don’t want you to spend two hours doing makeup when you can be doing so much more. I want you to know that no matter how beautiful you look with makeup, if you are not comfortable in your own skin and natural self, then it is all for naught. In my view, beauty companies thrive on the lack of self-confidence of women and in many cases, perpetuate that lack of self-confidence. Beauty, baby girl, is transient. Knowing this will make you more accepting of the person you were created to be.
I will teach you about modesty in dressing because personally, I like conservative wears. I am very self-conscious about my look and easily get uncomfortable when people are staring at me. That is why I dress modestly. That doesn’t mean that if you wear revealing clothes, you are a whore. Every woman has the right to wear whatever she wants. I want you to know this however; there are many sick people who think that your cloth is an invitation for them to harm you. You have to realize that they are wrong! However, there are appropriate clothes for different occasions and I will teach you to be able to decipher what to wear when.
Some women believe in trading sex for what they want in life. The world has a name for them; I don’t. It is their choice to be whomever they decide to be. I would however not want you to do that. I want you to know that you can be whomever you destine yourself to be, have whatever you want and achieve anything without doing so on your back. Sometimes – heck whom I am deceiving! MOST TIMES – you will have to work harder than men in the same position as you but guess what? You are equipped for it! I want you to look at the likes of Oprah, Beyonce, Debra Lee, Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes, President Hillary Clinton (she will always be President to me regardless of that travesty of an election), Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Aisha Mohammed, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Omobola Johnson, Madam Marie Curie, and other women who have done well in their chosen fields. They worked hard at being the women they wanted to be and the world celebrated their genius. I won’t lie to you that women who have lived on the backs are not celebrated too. It takes a great deal of sexual appeal to be a Marilyn Monroe or a Cleopatra but I would prefer that you walk a different path. This is because many men have relegated our gender to nothing more than ornaments for their pleasure. I want you to break that mold and prove – for yourself – that though you are a sexual being, you are way more than perky breasts and a vagina that can kegel.
Still talking sex, I want you to know that you a sexual being. Your body is not formed just for reproductive purposes. You can enjoy sex as any man would. You will be told that men need sex and you need love. Scratch all of that! Men and women both need sex and love! It is just as simple as that. Don’t let anyone tell you that if you enjoy sex, you must be a whore. If they do, refer them to me darling! I will ensure they are brought to their senses!
And when you decide to have sex, I want you to make all the necessary dissection of the ‘why’. Don’t do it because your friends are doing it or because you don’t want to lose a boy you love. Darling, I will not lie to you and say pressure isn’t hard; because it is! I also wouldn’t tell you that a boy whom you have sex will stay or leave. See how I said ‘whom you have sex with’? This is because you do not ‘give’ a man sex. Sex should be a mutually beneficial experience for the parties involved. So don’t say you are using sex to make a man do something for you. Girl, that is foolish! Sex is not a bargaining chip and you should never cheapen yourself by making it one.
In my letter to your father, I told him my most valuable quality was not my hymen. It is not yours too. Your mind is your most valuable quality and you need to improve it daily! This is where I will reiterate that you can be whoever you want to be. The only thing I will add to that is that your choice of a life path should be bordered around trying to improve the quality of human life on earth. I will not allow you be a mass murderer because you can be anything you want to be. But nothing is off the table. No matter what you want to be, your father and I will support you. I will not ask you to be a doctor when your passion is in the arts. I will also not force you to marry or have kids if that is not in your plans.
This is the one most people will hate me for. You do not need to marry or have children to be a complete woman! Those things are choices you should make if and when you so decide. Don’t get into marriage because somehow, that makes you a ‘true woman’; it doesn’t! Having children will also not make you a ‘real woman’. You are real just the way you are! I wouldn’t pester your life to give me grandchildren because I will be too busy raising the children I adopt. If you want to go down that route, then I have your back!
I will write you subsequent letters but for now, digest this one. Keep at the back of your mind that I always have your back; even when it doesn’t seem like it. I will discipline you when necessary but like I promised your brother, I will not abuse you. There is a clear difference and I hope you also get to know that.
You are my pride and joy and your father and I love you!
Go out and shine brightly baby!
Ecstatic with love,
21st Century Strong Black Mum