Shara Trott | goldthelabel.com
Open letter to my future daughter:
My future daughter,
I love you so much. You don’t even exist yet and I’m not even sure that you ever will, but I love you. I know that I love you even though I’ve never met you. And I know that you’re beautiful even though I have never laid eyes on you. I think about you all the time. I think about you and what life will be like if/when you ever arrive. I wonder, what will your life be like? Will I be a good enough mom? Will I have prepared you enough for this, often times, cruel world that we live in? There are so many things that I want to tell you. So many things I need you to know.
“…to be born female is one of the hardest things a person can do.”
For starters, and I hate to be the one to tell you this, but to be born female is one of the hardest things a person can do. One of the most special and magical, but one of the hardest nonetheless. I have no idea what the world will be like when you get here, but if it’s anything like the one we are living in today, I feel the need to apologize to you for that. The world isn’t always kind to girls and women and for that I am so sorry. There are tons of women and men working to make the world a better place for you to live in, but that is going to take some time.
“The only thing harder than being born a woman is being born a woman of colour.”
I want the world to be a better place for you, because we live in a world where a woman can be anything she wants to be except be more successful than a man. A world that will allow you to work hard for your dream job but only pay you 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. And sweetheart, I hate to have to tell you that because you will be a black woman, that you will earn even less than that. The only thing harder than being born a woman is being born a woman of colour. Being a black woman is an amazing thing. There is a special kind of strength that comes with being a black woman. A special kind of magic. But unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the world who do not know or believe that. I hope that by the time you arrive that this has changed.
If the world you’re born into is anything like the one we live in today, the world will try to tell you that you are not enough and that you do not matter, simply because of the colour of your skin. In your life you will have to overcome obstacles reserved for people of colour, and after you jump over those hurdles, there will be obstacles to overcome simply because you are a woman. I know it isn’t fair my love, but life isn’t fair. That is a phrase that you will most definitely hear all throughout your life and the sooner you accept that fact; the better. But on the bright side, you come from a long line of black queens. My mother, and her mother and all of your aunts and cousins, are the epitome of what it means to be a black queen. All of the women in your family that precede you are extremely intelligent, strong, kind, educated, multi-talented and capable women. You will most certainly look up to them for inspiration and guidance just as I have. If you grow to love and respect me half as much as I love and respect my mother, then I will consider myself extremely lucky.
My darling sweet girl, I have no idea what you look like but I already know that you are beautiful. I know that you possess the inherent and transcendent beauty that God has placed inside every woman. Unfortunately, we are living in a world that tends to value outer beauty more than inner beauty. At times it will seem that what you look like is all that matters. There will be times when you will feel inadequate and less than because you don’t look like the women on tv and in the magazines. I know this because I have spent the majority of my life feeling these exact same things. Unfortunately, there is very little I can do to prevent you from feeling these feelings as every woman will inevitably experience these things. All I can do as your mother is make sure that you know that you are beautiful and worthy of love and happiness. I want you to know that beauty does not have a dress size. I want you to know that the total sum of a woman is more than the size of her waistline.
Now, if you’re old enough to read this, you’re probably well aware that there is no bigger diva on the planet than your mama. If you know me at all you know I love a good beat and a good glam. Makeup and glamour are fun artistic expressions of who a person is and can be, but I never want you to be so focused on your outer appearance that you forget to groom yourself internally. I couldn’t care less whether or not you know how to apply false lashes or fill in your eyebrows. I care about who you are on the inside. I want you to be kind and compassionate to other human beings. I want you to be strong and tolerant of the differences in the people surrounding you. I want you to be humble enough to know that you are better than no one. And confident enough to know that no one is better than you. The world can be cruel, and I want you to be strong and not let the world harden you. The world will tell you in many different ways that because you are a woman, you are weak. This is untrue. Do not be afraid to show your heart or emotions for fear that you will be labeled as weak. It takes strength to be your authentic self, and as your mom I will do my very best to ensure that you possess that strength.
I pray that you never know what it is like to not have control over your own body. I pray that you never know what it’s like to be afraid to talk about something that was done to you. I pray that you are never scared to say “no“. I pray that you never become someone’s “victim”. These are my prayers for you. But if those prayers fall on deaf ears, I pray that if you do experience anything of the sort, that you talk about it. Tell someone. I beg you. I know it can be hard to talk to a parent about this kind of thing, so if you don’t want to talk to me, talk to someone. A friend, a teacher, a guidance counsellor, a stranger. You are in charge of your body. You make the rules. You have every right to say “no” at ANY given time. And you also possess the right not to feel guilty for anytime you said “yes”. I know firsthand how dangerous it is to keep feelings and experiences like this bottled up. Everyday I wonder how different my life would be if I had talked to or told someone sooner. That is not a worry I wish for you to have my love, so please. Just talk. There is an unbelievable healing power in verbalizing your experiences.
” There is no greater ally in the world than another woman.”
Truth be told, the world just isn’t a safe place for an intelligent young woman who is confident in her body and sexuality. If you are the kind of woman I hope to raise you to be, you are the kind of woman that terrifies the world. You will scare the world because they won’t be able to make you feel inferior. They won’t be able to make you smaller or more quiet. They will hate you for that. They will try to break you- don’t you dare back down! Be strong in your convictions and have courageous integrity. It will be tiring, I know that firsthand but I will be there to prop you up. Lean on me. Just as I will have to lean on you at times. There is no greater ally in the world than another woman. Nobody will understand your struggle like another woman. When women come together to genuinely support each other, there is no telling and no stopping what we can accomplish. The world tried to pit women against each other. The world will encourage catty behaviour and excuse it by saying “that’s just how women are“. This is an extremely simple minded and sexist school of thought. Please don’t subscribe to this. It is far better to love the woman standing next to you than to hate her. Try to bring out the best in the next woman, even if she brings out the worst in you. Encourage your sisters and remind them of the greatness they have inside of them. If you’re lucky like your mama, you will have found yourself a tribe of women who do the same for you.
I have no idea what my life will be like or what the circumstances will be if/when you arrive. I do, however, know that if the man I am with and in love with now turns out to be your father, you are one lucky girl and I deserve a pat on the back and a glass of wine for choosing him to be your dad. He is the kindest, most generous, patient man I’ve ever met. I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve him but I’m so glad he walked into my life when he did. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will be the best father in the world to you. I know all about great fathers because your grandfather is the best dad in the world to me. He has loved and cherished me from the second I was born. He has shown me what it looks like when a man truly loves you. I see those same qualities my father possesses in your dad. Your father was raised by an amazing and strong woman and he comes from a family filled with strong and dynamic women so he respects and values women. He is my best friend and when the time comes for you to start dating, I can only hope that you will choose a partner who loves and respects you the way your father loves and respects me. I hope you look at your father as a constant reminder to never settle and to never accept less than the love you deserve.
I will do my best to equip you with the tools necessary to be a productive member of society. I hope that you will consider me your best friend just as my mother is my best friend. You can always talk to me about anything. I can’t promise that I won’t get mad. I can only promise that I won’t stay mad. I want you to know that it’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to not be okay. I won’t always get it right but I will love you always. In all ways.
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