I read somewhere once that it took about 1100 man hours to build a medieval suit of armor.
Yesterday this stupid but insidiously damaging and depressingly familiar story was posted on the Mary Sue…
— The Mary Sue (@TheMarySue) September 29, 2014
And then @CombatCavScout shared this follow-up thought…
I have a daughter I hope beyond hope grows up in a world where she can be whatever she wants – Army Ranger, superhero, President, whatever. — The Hate Machine (@CombatCavScout) September 29, 2014
And today’s version of what seems like a daily story popped up:
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) September 30, 2014
What it all adds up to is that it must be frightening trying to raise a daughter. On a daily basis, I already want to pick a fight with the whole world on behalf of every little girl I know. Can’t imagine if one of them was mine. God bless people bringing up a daughter. Here’s my unsolicited advice to those brave souls:
Tell her she’s perfect and brilliant and amazing every fucking day.
You just have to tell her, show her, sing it to her, sculpt it out of clay, write it in the sky, let her know in any way you can, because that is how you gird her in a sense of self-worth strong enough to be her armor against legions. When nothing else helps, this armor can see her through. Boys need this too, of course, but not the way girls do.
As a kid, I was into books and Star Wars and animals and Spider-Man and my family let me be into books and Star Wars and animals and Spider-Man. They told me how smart I was all the time. They told me I would be a famous writer, that I could change the world, that my art was beautiful, that my freckles were beautiful, that I was capable of anything. They were so good at building me up I didn’t even notice how much I had needed their help until I was an adult. I wasn’t really like other kids, and that hurt sometimes, but that armor made me strong enough to never, ever change under someone else’s pressure. I’m grateful as hell for that because I can’t imagine how lost I’d have been without a real sense of self.
Now my friend M has a 3.5-year-old daughter T, who is one of my favorite humans on earth. M always teases me that I can’t say no to T, or see anything negative in her (even when she’s being a brat), that if T killed someone, I’d find a way to make an excuse for her. To which I have often said: I’m sure if T ever killed someone, she’d have a really good reason.
The point is (and M gets this, as much as she might tease me): she’ll have a lifetime of people and institutions and ads and magazines and peers and god help us teachers and coaches too and who knows what else telling her she’s not perfect. I’m not planning on being one of them. I’m going to tell her she’s perfect and brilliant and amazing every chance I get in the hopes that I can do my bit to help armor her, help make sure her sense of her own worth will never break under anyone else’s pressure.
Not sure how many hours it takes to build this kind of armor, but it’s the best defense I know against a world that seems to be embedded with messages telling little girls that they are less.