La La How The Life Goes On

Freeing Our Daughters

Posted on: November 29, 2012

When Jada Pinkett-Smith was asked why she let her daughter Willow shave her head, this is what she said:

“This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this post it will remain incomplete. The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be.”

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Thank you, Jada. Whatever you think of her as a celebrity, I think this message is potentially the most important for anyone with daughters. Your daughters do not exist to impact any grown up’s “insecurities, hopes and desires.”

I get asked a lot why I “let” Bambina have such long hair. Because that’s how she likes it.
Why I “let” her wear only dresses. Because that’s what she likes to wear.
Why I said I’d “let” her get blue hair if she wants to in high school. Because she thinks she wants blue hair. And why is this your business again? Why are you so invested in my child’s sartorial or hair choices? What do her decisions make YOU feel? Because, recognize that your question reveals not issues you have about Bambina, but with yourself.

By the same token, I get similar-but-different questions about Baby Sister’s fashion and hair choices. Why always with bangs! Why such kooky outfits? My first reaction is to scream from the depths of my being, “OH MY GOD! SHE’S FUCKING FOUR YEARS OLD, WHO GIVES A SHIT?!” But because I AM beholden to society’s insecurities, hopes and desires, I politely say, “because that’s how she likes it.” But note that the questions arise with hair, both short and long. Outfits, dressy or crazy casual. Temperaments, both outgoing and shy. Which illustrates the issue of which Pinkett-Smith speaks. That there is no way to insulate your daughter from the weight of society’s expectations other than to teach her to ignore them, to know and love herself, and to exist outside the echo chamber telling her who she needs to be/look like/act like in order to make grown ups feel good about themselves.

The greatest gift you will give your daughter is the freedom to make her own choices without regard for our culture’s expectations. Be it a desire to dress a certain way or to undertake an activity considered not girly or to be as “girly” as she wants to be. We owe it to the women who went against expectations to attend medical school when it was considered an affront to do so. We owe it to the suffragists who endured ridicule to get women the vote. And because I wear jeans on every day that ends in Y, I personally owe it to the women who said F-U to the tyranny of the petticoat and wore pants, people’s breathless disapproval be damned. Free your girls to do the same. Our world needs girls unchained.

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2 Responses to "Freeing Our Daughters"

Omg yes!!!!

Ha! While I’m sure the boys would also live it, just to be clear, it’s Betsy who commented.

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