Today I Skyped with my nieces. One laid on the floor and gave me a smile. The other one spilled water on her bow and had an outfit that I want to replicate (bigger of course) and wear. Think she would go matchies with her aunt? My sister was also looking beautiful and her teeth seemed particularly white. Can you tell my family is fabulous? Also, my oldest niece and brother-in-law went to see the Lion King in 3D. Not only is that a brilliant marketing scheme by Disney, but also the best first movie theatre experience. Good choice.
I really love my nieces. Of course, no one wants to see a stranger get hurt, but when you know and love someone, that connection makes life personal. I would never want to walk past someone crying on the street, but its different, you know? When its someone you love, someone you know, you’re involved. “You jump, I jump, remember?”
And I was feeling that for my nieces today. Fiercely protective. Not protective like a mama bear at the expense of someone else, but rather a feeling that you, of course, would protect anyone like this, but these two are the ones in my life that were given to me to protect. “True love says to everything that is near, I will take good care of you.” I can’t believe anyone would truly be interested in seeing any child in pain, but there are certain people that have come into my life that I am tied to more particularly while wishing generally for Eden.
What prompted this thought was seeing a statistic. It was accompanied by a picture of a 3-4 year old little blonde girl and said “There is a 0.003% chance she’ll be a lawyer. There is a 42% chance she’ll wish she was thinner by the time she reaches third grade.” It still hits me like punch in the gut every time I read that. 42% by 3rd grade. I never want my nieces to feel anything but beautiful and talented and enchanting. I want them to wholeheartedly believe in every part of themselves. Third grade is a time to worry about cursive (well…probably not that anymore…division?) or figuring out how to jump into a double dutch. There is never an age when a girl, a child, a mother, a daughter, should wish she was thinner. Or smarter. Or prettier. Or anything to prove to society that she is valuable. She is. Our daughters should be dreaming of becoming astronauts or ballerinas or veterinarians or linguists, not of being thin. (Not to devalue other struggles. Thin girls are still faced with a wall of “not enough”).
I hate this culture of mirrors. I hate the standards and the clipboards and the surveys and numbers and checklists that we’re all going to fail. I hate the times upon millions of times I’ve bought into this culture. Not even so much bought into as sold myself to. And I hate that my nieces will someday come face to face with this culture. And I want to protect them from it as long as possible. And work to end it while I can. Like my mothers and sisters have before me.
We all need to give ourselves a little more grace. And a little more faith.
You know me, I’ve always been the kind with easy confidence. Confident enough to honestly believe that nothing out there’s stoppin me.