For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to have children. I wanted at least three children and at least one of each sex. After we had Asher and got our boy, we were really hoping for a little girl and we feel incredibly blessed to have received Bennett.
I’ve always been a feminist. I’ve always fiercely believed in and advocated for the equality of men and women. I’ve hated gender stereotyping and pigeon holing. I’ve done my best to raise my son without any such gendered expectations imposed upon him. I’ve taught him that there is no such thing as boy or girl colors, rather there are only colors. His favorite color is currently bright pink and while, I hate the color pink I’m happy that he loves it and hope he is never made to feel like he shouldn’t. I try and let him choose his preferences when there is an opportunity to so as not to have my deeply ingrained, society influenced, gendered views influence him.
However since having a daughter, which, I admit hasn’t even been a month, I’ve been appalled to notice that I’ve been thinking about her future mainly in terms of her physical appearance. I keep hoping that she’ll be beautiful and imagining what she’ll look like as though beauty is the most important thing a woman can aspire to. This isn’t me! So, where is it coming from?!
As a woman, I am not above society’s influence. I feel constant pressure to conform to societal expectations of beauty for women, even though I know that my value is SO much more than that.
I have never once thought about how I hope Asher will grow up to be a good looking man, so why do I now find myself hoping that Bennett will grow up to be a good looking woman? It’s shallow and makes me incredibly uncomfortable to confront this part of myself but how can I hope to change and raise children that are better than me if I am unwilling to closely examine and work on my short comings?
I’d like to think that I hope she’s beautiful because that will make life easier for her in a world where woman are already disadvantaged, but I’m sure that isn’t all of it.
I honestly care most about the depth of her character (and Asher’s too for that matter) rather than the way she looks, and yet I find myself dwelling on the latter. I need to practice thought catching. I don’t want anyone to ever make her feel that her self-worth is mainly skin deep, but especially not her own mother. I want to empower her to be confident, to believe in herself, to value service to humanity, to have an outward facing orientation, to dream big and to be driven to chase those dreams. In order for those to happen, I have to lead by example to the best of my abilities and that means constantly working and striving to improve.