The comments started as soon as I started taking her out, which was about two days after I had taken her home. She is so tiny, she is so long, she is so skinny. And she was, all of those things. Her spindly little legs tucked tightly into the sling I wore and I caller her peanut in response to the label on the sling that held her snug against my chest: peanut shell.
Six months later just as many comments, this time in the opposite vein: look at that fat baby, look at those chubby thighs, somebody doesn’t miss a meal. Those chubby thighs had been pretty hard-earned by the both of us. Proof that God was faithful in all the early feeding problems that made me so desperate.
The comments have come back recently, regarding the way my daughter looks. Just three-years-old her hair spills down her back. The hair I worried would never grow has now formed into curls so perfect people want to know if I styled them that way. The sun has painted my daughter’s hair in to a gorgeous rainbow of strawberry-blonde, auburn, and truly red. I can only imagine how much money has been spent by women trying to gain the exact shade of my daughter’s hair.
I pull her hair into a fake bun. The kind where you pull the ponytail through the rubber band not-quite-two-times and it sits on the top of her head and the ends poke out in a set of gorgeous curls that make it look like it was all on purpose.
She is wearing a red dress with tiny white polka-dots all over it. She got to the closet before I could shut it and grabbed the hand-me-down, “This one!” She would not be deterred. This dress is cut in a halter-top, that single strap around her neck makes me nervous. It just looks so grown up. She will not hear that the dress is too big, so I pin the strap behind her neck to make everything sit right.
With the top knot, and the red halter dress I am a few mascara swipes away from Toddlers and Tiaras. It catches me off guard, and it terrifies me. My daughter could grow up to be remarkably beautiful.
Remarkably beautiful, as in, people are likely to have a remark about her beauty, to continue remarking about her body. And I am afraid of how she will handle it. I am certainly afraid of having to handle it myself. I have seen too many women, succumb to the power of what the world had to say about the way that they look.
I have seen women eaten alive by their own beauty. The constant compliments giving way to the expectation of constant compliments. The remarking leading to an understanding that if they were not remarked about they were not worthy of the space they took up, the air they breathed. I don’t want that to happen to my girl. There is just so much life in those lungs. So much more fire than the fire that can be pulled onto the top of her head.
I have seen women chased by their own beauty. Their desire to remain un-remarked on sending them into clothes that are too big, hair that hangs in front of their chiseled face, shoulders caving in on a near-perfect body. I have seen the way they learned that all that attention was somehow their fault, when no one actually taught them that. I don’t want that to happen to my girl either. I don’t want her to hide any of herself. She is simply too exquisite.
All of her is wonderful, but not because it pleases other. She is fearfully and wonderfully made. Of course my daughter is beautiful. May she grow up to rest in that beauty, to identify the beauty in others, to love her locks and be willing to shave them all off on a whim (even when that would make her mother cry). May she know that she is beautiful regardless of remarks. May she continually call out the beauty of this world.