Mar 25, 2017

An Open Letter To Those Of You Who Will Meet My Daughter

Hannah is six months old today. She is a bright and bubbly baby. From those of you who will meet her, I have a few favors to ask:

First and foremost, before anything else, please, please, please, don't comment on her looks. She may or may not grow up to have a big nose and big feet, a larger body or a smaller one, thick and wavy or thin, lifeless hair. It mustn't matter! Growing up in our society as a girl is literally sickening, with children as young as four wasting precious lifetime worrying about whether they are pretty enough to deserve love and affection. Eventually, these kids will fall ill with torturous self-doubt, constantly trying to live up to impossible beauty standards instead of enjoying their school years. As much as I can, I want to shelter Hannah from oppression and diet culture, from women complaining about their thighs or pregnancy weight, from people who are cutting sugar and "unhealthy fats" out of their diet under the banner of health. I want Hannah to know that health is possible at every size, and I want her to be allowed to eat intuitively. If you are having her over for dinner, let her eat as much as she wants (as long as everyone has had enough, of course), and don't comment on how little or much she is eating. She will be raised in a house where we do not distinguish good from bad foods, just as we do not distinguish between good and bad people, and where having dessert, if available, is her own free choice.

Secondly, and this is important, too, please do not randomly gift her stuff. I understand that you are meaning well, but already at six months of age, Hannah doesn't need more material things. For now, she has everything her heart desires. If you would like to give her something, kindly ask us what would be helpful to have. A few ideas: one, experiences. Come and visit us or take us on an outing. She loves looking at the world around her. Two, help us save for her education. In Canada, there is a government savings plan where the state contributes up to $700 a year once a certain yearly amount has been saved. Three, if you insist on giving her items like toys and clothing, please check in with us to see if we need them. We have received the same books, clothes and stuffed animals multiple times (again - thank you!), and I'm sure Hannah would be happy to pass on duplicates to charities and local libraries.

Last but not least, if you are a man, do not harass her. Don't whistle at her on the street, don't talk down to her because she was born female, don't expect her to hear you out when you have nothing to say. Don't bore her with your ideas of what a woman should and should not do. Don't tell her where and how to birth her child, should she choose to have one. Should she choose to have an abortion, let her. Don't expect her to settle for less than what she deserves, less pay for the same work, less recognition for the same achievements. Don't expect her to say yes due to a lack of options, she will have plenty. Let her wear what she wants, swear if she wants, say what needs to be said without fear of rejection.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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