“Mom, I am sorry that I am fat. I hate myself. I know that you probably don’t love me. I should run away. I wish you didn’t have to have such a fat daughter.”
I wrote my mom this note when I was 6 years old. I didn’t ever run away. As time went on I became more likely to end my life than to run away. I continued to deal with weight issues and my own struggling sense of worth as I grew up, and it’s something that plagues me now as I try to raise two daughters.
When I read those words as an adult, I wish I could go back in time and hug the little girl I once was. Pink’s speech last night at the VMAs breathed new life into the little girl that wrote that note, and gave me a new model for discussing self-image with my own daughters.
Watching Pink’s speech was like a therapy session and a how-to guide for mothers like me. When her daughter said she saw herself as ugly, Pink didn’t go into platitudes on her looks. She didn’t try to combat the voice in her daughter’s head with another voice that said “Mom thinks you’re pretty.” We all know that isn’t how you win against the self-doubt, don’t we?
We can’t hear enough compliments from other people to drown out our own feelings.
There is no doubt that Pink’s daughter is absolutely beautiful. But that wasn’t the point. Pink attacked the root cause of her daughter’s problem. She made a friggin' PowerPoint with androgynous beauties in it to show her daughter that looking like a boy is powerful. Pink laid into the uncertainty of being different and the fear of not measuring up to everything we are supposed to be. Pink called on the different types of beauty there are in this world and taught her daughter that there is no one way to be accepted. She did it with grace, love and an appreciation for the arts that made my heart sing.
Thank you Pink for the lesson in combatting this issue that has haunted me as I try to be a mother to two daughters. Two daughters that will go through awkward middle school phases (because it’s a rite of passage) and odd haircuts. Two daughters that will gain and lose weight as their bodies mature and change.
Thank you for helping to find another way to approach this that can change the discussion on beauty and what it means. My first response in the past was to make my daughters see themselves as I see them and assure them of their beauty, but what they really need is to be assured of their worth.
My daughters' worth isn't tied to how they look.
My daughters don’t need me to profess how incredible they look — they need to know how to unleash their potential. To hell with beauty, I want my daughters to worry about making a difference and fighting a fight that matters.