Friday, 31 March 2017

A Wish For Your Birthday: A Letter to my Best Friend's Little Girl

A photo og little girl standing at the water's edge on the beach, looking out to the horizon, taken from behind

Dear Minnie,

Today is your third Birthday. Over the past three years, I have loved hearing about the little person you've become, with your individual little personality. I know you love Disney movies, and at the moment, the animated Beauty and the Beast seems to be your favourite - though I have to say I was over the moon when your daddy sent me a video of you singing along to The Little Mermaid, my favourite Disney movie. I know you like being read to, going to the park, going swimming, and visiting your local farm to feed the goats. I know you like dressing up for days at nursery, that you like helping your parents bake, and you love cats. I also know that in a few months time, you're going to become a big sister. You've just found out, and you're so excited, though impatient for the baby to arrive. I imagine you're really looking forward to helping mummy and daddy help after your little brother/sister.

You probably don't know yet that I call you Minnie,  - or if you've been told, you probably don't understand why. I've called you Minnie since before you were born - before, even, your mummy and daddy knew you were going to be a little girl. As my best friend's baby, you were my mini-bestie, and, thankfully, you were a girl, so "Minnie" could stay. Again, as my best friend's baby, I loved you automatically, like people automatically love the babies family members have. And although I called you Minnie because your daddy is my best friend, the more I hear about you, the more I think you're amazing, and it matters less now who your daddy is; you're my mini-bestie because of who you are. To me, you kind of feel like family, even though you're not. And I worry for you.

I worry because of the world you live in, the world you have to grow up in. I worry because you will be treated a certain way because of your biological sex. Girls, even as children, are taught that how they look matters ("Oh, you're such a pretty little girl!"), they are taught from their toys that they are expected to do certain things because their girls (dollies, because girls should become mothers; ironing boards, kitchens, and tea sets, because housework is "women's work"), and that they are expected to grow up and have a boyfriend (Barbie and Ken, not Barbie and Christie), and that people of colour, people of non-Christian faiths, and disabled people are not nearly as important as white, non-disabled people (how many dolls are people of colour and/or wear hijabs/turbans/kippahs and/or disabled are there compared to how many dolls that are non-disabled, white people?).

These messages will only get stronger as you get older. The world will tell you that all things pink, sparkly and glittery are for you, but dinosaurs, rockets and superheroes are for boys. You'll be taught that girls will always be judged on how they look first, before anything else. That girls should seek such judgement - approval - from boys. That what boys think about how girls look and who they are is more important than what they think of themselves. That boys think that judging girls is what they're supposed to do, and not only that, but that girls will always want their attention - and if they don't, then there's something wrong with those girls, and they need to be shown, through verbal and/or physical abuse, that they should always seek out the attention of boys, that what boys think is important, that if you don't react positively to any way a boy interacts with you, you will suffer for it.

You may or may not grow up to like girls instead of boys, or both, or all genders. But the world will tell you that girls who don't like (just) boys, and boys who don't like (just) girls aren't normal. That they are wrong, that they are abnormal, that they are going to hell. You may or may not identify as female when you're older. But the world will tell you that there are only boys and girls, and whether a person is a boy or a girl is dependant on what they have between their legs. The world will tell you anyone with a penis who says they're not a boy and anyone with a vagina who says their not a girl isn't normal, that they're wrong, that they're abnormal, that they're going to hell. The world will tell you that these people aren't ok. The world may tell you that who you are isn't ok.

And I'm scared. I'm scared that you may end up believing them. I'm scared of what you'll experience as you grow up because you're biologically female, I'm scared of how you may be treated. I'm scared of what you may think about yourself.

I'm scared if you don't like (just) boys, you may end up feeling scared because of who you like, and feel like you can't say, and can't be your real self.

I'm scared if you don't end up identifying as female, you may end up feeling scared because of you are, and feel like you can't say, can't be you.

I'm scared of what your future holds, and what the world will tell you about who they think you should be. Because some of this is going to get through. These attitudes are so prevalent, and are everywhere you go, some of it will get through even if those close to you tell you different, insist that this is not the case. I'm scared for you, and I'm scared for your future friends, and other children you're age who will be affected, as they grow up, by the sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, bigoted society we live in.

Because I'm scared for your future, I'll do what I can now to try and make a difference, so the world is better as you get older. Through the gifts I send you, I will try to show you you can be whoever and do whatever you want, and that other people in the world - people who don't look like you, people who have different faiths to you, people of different abilities, people of various gender identities and sexualities, people who have mental illnesses - are just as important as you or I.

As you love Beauty and the Beast at the moment, I bought you a few fairy tales; gorgeous additions of Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, as I think it's good for you to have things you do like. But, as fairy tales can be sexist (how she looks is so important, Beauty is named for being beautiful; Sleeping Beauty (again with the beauty) is saved by a prince, though this time by a kiss on the hand rather than on the mouth, but still, problematic as it's sexual assault to do anything to a sleeping person as you have no consent; and so on), I also sent you some books that subvert gender roles and stereotypes; two books about girls who dream of becoming an engineer and a scientist, jobs normally associated with men, a book about a little girl who people always think is a boy because of the things she likes doing and wearing, and a book changes what it means to be beautiful.

And there are more; I have more and I will get more, and I will send them to you. And I hope you will learn from them that you, as you are, who you are, are wonderful, and that other people, as they are, who they are, are also wonderful.

This is what I wish for you today, on your birthday, and every day.

Lots of love,

Red
xx

-
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to follow me on:
Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram

0 comments:

Post a Comment