Dear Mothers Of Daughters, Be Careful With Your Words

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mother of teenage daughters
Family

Your job isn't done yet.

Dear Mothers of Daughters,

You don't know me, but I know you. 

I'm not a teenage girl anymore. In fact, I'm probably closer to your age than your daughter's. 

We probably have a lot of things in common, you and I. We probably both like a nice glass of wine. We both watch the same reality TV shows. We both support the same presidential candidate. We both love yoga pants. 

But there's something very different about you and I. 

I remember vividly what it was like to be a teenage girl, and from the conversation I've been listening to you have with your 19 year-old daughter today in this meeting hall, I don't think you do. 

I don't know you, and I don't know her, but we're all in the same place for the same reason, to support Hillary Clinton's bid for the office of president. 

It's rude to eavesdrop, I know, but it's hard to be deaf to your daughter's achievements. 

She's tall, she's beautiful, she's confident as hell, she's taking a semester off from a prestigious college to be a part of the campaign for the first serious female contender for the presidency. 

She is open and conversant, helping out volunteers three times her age with an air of authority and grace that I still don't have. 

You should be proud of her, you probably are. 

But that's not what you decided to speak to her about during your dinner break. 

You decided to talk to her about the acne on her chin. 

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I could hear you easily, and so could everyone else. It's clear the fact that your daughter has zits on her chin is upsetting to you.

We could all tell, given the way you insisted she go see a doctor immediately. We could all tell that you were horrified by the way she looked by the way you kept probing her daily routine: "Do you use the same face wash everyday? The same moisturizer? What are you eating? What did you say to the dermatologist exactly? This isn't acceptable." 

This isn't acceptable. 

You looked your daughter in the eye and told her that you found the way she looks to be unacceptable. 

I know you want your daughter to look and feel her best, but I think you've forgotten what it's like to be 19.

Take a minute, please, and remember how it felt when your own mother told you that you couldn't eat anymore that day because she wanted you to lose weight. Remember the way it made your stomach sink when, during a bad breakout, you looked up from your homework to see your dad staring at your skin with mild disgust. 

Remember when confidence seemed like something only other people could have, never you? 

Remember what it felt like to try to meet new people and make friends, but you felt so insecure about that way you looked that you wanted to melt away into nothing?

We've all got those memories, and if they don't come from our parents, they come from our peers. 

Before you walked into the room, your daughter was lighting it up. 

She invited you to this volunteer event because she was proud of the work she was doing. She was eager to share it with you. 

But instead of seeing that, you came in, lectured her on acne and then left, leaving her a shadow.

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She was monosyllabic and unrecognizable. 

It can't be easy watching your child become a woman. Someone who has always been a part of you is now out there making a world of her own. Don't begrudge her that and tear her down. Don't be so scared for her that you can only criticize. 

Be proud of her.

Hug her and tell her you can't believe she's doing everything she's doing. When she smiles (because she will smile) tell her she's beautiful because she is, and because the world is hard enough to girls, we don't need to helping to tear them down. 

She's here because of you, and even though she's legally an adult, what you say to her matters more than almost anyone else. 

Be careful with your words, be kind with them. Lift her up and let her be the woman you know she is.

Sincerely,

The woman sitting next to you during lunch

 

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