Tuesday, May 26, 2009

girls in the world

I hear them chattering, M and her friend.  Her friend is talking about M and telling her how pretty she is.  I always wanted white skin like yours she says.  M, in a moment that I'll remember forever says but I like your skin, it's so pretty and brown. I wish I had browner skin like you.  It's not the first time this has come up with M, being here she's generally one of the lightest skinned kids around and she's asked me more than once when will her skin be darker. And in this moment I was so grateful for that, she made her friend feel good instead of bad, a spontaneous peacekeeping mission but one that also splinters my heart because it reminds me of what is just around the curve.

So in that moment both girls seemed happy, it's the easy open chatter of 4 and year olds but it's not lost on me that just around the corner comes the more difficult stuff, the times when these games of compare and contrast will linger, that wounds will be caused, that defining others by what is different will be hard to resist and will matter so much.  

We as mothers no matter where we raise our kids or what our faith we is face these issues, these issues of raising our little girls into young women in a world full of differences while trying desperately to show them how to celebrate them instead of losing a piece of themselves in the exchange.  And we face our own demons in the balance, our own multiple dissatisfactions whether quiet or loud do not go unnoticed, our girls see us worry about our weight and our hair how we look and a multitude of other things that more often than not were simply how we came out but never able to accept.

And I feel this is the beginning of our journey, of my chance to do whatever I can to normalize M's experiences of this in her world and to be there with her when she struggles but I am also unsure, afraid that my own earlier woundings will get in our way as they have for generations before.  And it also strikes me that no matter where you go in the world we women share this and that both saddens me and binds us, me to you and us to them and we together have to work to strengthen our collective lineage and do what we can to make sure our girls know their radiance, their unique badassedness, every single day of the rest of their lives.

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15 comments:

Janet said...

Badassedness, indeed.

My husband's parents both have the kind of skin that tans easily so they are a beautiful butterscotch by end of summer. Only my middle girl inherited this trait, the other two destined to a life of pasty English-Finnish near-translucency passed down by yours truly. I always wished my skin was browner, too.

Capital Mom said...

If I stop to think about it I get scared about what is coming with my daughter. When I go to pick her up at pre-school I see the older girls, and by older I mean 4 and 5, already excluding each other, picking sides. Ganging up on each other and hurting each other. I stood and watched one day and I was sad.

Madge said...

i worry about this every single day -- even though i am raising boys

krista said...

the scariest part of all is that there is nowhere our baby girls are safe from turning into young women. and all that entails. the good, the badassedness and the so ugly it hurts to look them directly in the eye when they behave that way. children possess the uncanny ability to look at difference without judgment and somewhere along the line it changes and i don't know how to prevent that.

mamatulip said...

Yes.

YES.

Amber said...

This is my constant struggle with my own 4-year-old daughter. She is becoming so much more aware of the world, and people, and their differences and similarities. I fear for her, and myself. I hope I can get it right, so that she isn't broken into pieces by her growing up.

meno said...

Both my daughter and i are very pale. It sucks. Which is beside the point of your post, because the world tells us that lighter is better. Sometimes i wish the world would shut up.

Anonymous said...

I know this may sound odd, but I have this compelling feeling that this post and your last one, about art teaching, are linked in some way. And that my part in it is to simply say so, and let what may come out of that, if anything, happen.

And also I enjoyed the posts!

with love, M

Anjali said...

You put it so beautifully -- my constant thoughts as I raise my three daughters...

painted maypole said...

"do what we can to make sure our girls know their radiance, their unique badassedness, every single day of the rest of their lives"

yes

Kyla said...

Yeah. It is work, for sure, reassuring them of their worth and beauty. It starts so early.

Kim said...

Wow.

Isn't it funny that while we try to give our children everything we never had, we seem to always end up giving them exactly WHAT we have....dissatisfaction with ourselves?

joker the lurcher said...

i needed to read this today. we are more the same than we are different

Bon said...

i loved this. and i have been watching my son lately, wondering what of my own damage i'm threading down to him, as he turns three and becomes a little mimic of all the things i don't even know i'm doing.

it makes me try harder. yet still, he will have to come to apprehend the world with all its injustice and inequity, and there will be small injustices against him and they will wound and he is a white male and i want him to understand how that privileges in all the invisible ways but do not want to attack with the knowledge...oy.

and my girl...she is still small, still safe from all this for a season or two. but i look at her beautiful fat baby thighs and hope i can still be as loving and accepting of their beauty if they stay bountiful and i hope i can sing only of radiance and badassedness.

bgirl said...

i love this post.