During the Super Bowl, there was a commercial which first asked adults how they would describe girls running and then they asked the girls. Adults’ stereotypes included girls running with their arms flapping around. When they asked the girls, the girls described themselves as competitive, fast, and mighty.
Thinking of my daughter, I wanted to bottle the words from the girls. The day she was born I whispered in her ear… my job is to teach you about generosity, but also strength. I wanted to raise a daughter who was sure of herself and who cared. She needed to understand there is a big world, there is pain, and there are labels of what others think you are supposed to be. In my world, I had fallen into so many labels from being the middle child, to the crying child, to the raped woman, to the uppidity adult, to the woman who miscarried, etc. that I knew it was important for me to make my own labels. In college, I dated someone with dyslexia and remember the shock when he told me one of his teachers said he’d never be able to graduate from college. Another friend told me about her son with autism who people would stare at in public because he would scream, but didn’t look like anything was physically wrong with him. In one of my jobs, I helped take care of people with disabilities and they would tell me stories of being rejected. None of these stories sat well with me. It was at these moments I knew labels could not define me. As a mother you don’t want labels to define your child.
In my eyes, my daughter can be sexy, smart, funny, tough, independent, brave, curious, loud, and still be a woman. She doesn’t need to apologize for messed up hair, winning a race, eating a doughnut, or getting high scores on a test. All she needs to do is be herself. Although, I promised to teach her she has taught me. At times, I have worried about what other adults think and my daughter will say – mom, I just didn’t feel like keeping my braid in my hair – does it really matter? At these times, I am reminded of being human for we were born beautiful and created to be beautiful. Never has God labelled us, so, why do we?
Unfortunately, we are all brainwashed from magazine covers to hurtful words into believing the labels, but when confidence and faith grows is when the labels became increasingly faint. The labels are still visible as I become a woman in my own power, but the labels can no longer own me. I do not care if being successful means others will have unrealistic beliefs. My career has never changed who I am at the core, although, it has changed what opportunities exist for me. It also lets me see how other women use poor labels such as acting ignorant to get what they want. Labels which make us cringe is not what we strive to be. We deserve and are worth so much more.
Luckily my daughter has the personality to beat to her own drum. She is stronger and more confident than me at 4. She seems to get it. She likes herself and is empowered. She will say – I am not a stink pot mom I am Ryley. She tells her friends the same thing. She comes down the stairs twirling in one of her or my dresses and truly believes she is beautiful and someone to be reckoned with. Hopefully this is a lifetime character trait. What a gift this would be for both herself and for me. Couldn’t imagine what life would have been like if I didn’t compare myself or fought the labels at 4. If I wasn’t the middle child or the talkative wife. If other women or those closest to me didn’t feel the need at times to throw me into society’s pigeon holes. If I didn’t believe the lies. If I was the woman who could joke in a meeting and know she was still being heard. A woman instead of believing in the negativity could believe in a dream and her purpose. A woman who knows how to be competitive, fast, and mighty. A woman who knows her faith and her capabilities. A woman who doesn’t care about other’s insecure thoughts about her. What a wonderful story this would be for every woman. It is a story I hope my daughter holds close to her heart as she runs without flappy arms through this thing we call life.