My daughter may only be 11 months old, but I already spend a lot of time worrying for her future (#momwithanxiety). I wonder whether she will grow up in a society that allows her full autonomy over her body. I wonder whether she'll experience sexual harassment once puberty hits, just as I did, or even before. I ask myself what I can do to make sure that she knows a person's worth is never determined by their waistline. I pray that she never feels guilty about enjoying a damn candy bar. That she knows how to find herself when the world is shifting under her feet. There are so many things I want for my daughter, and so many that I just don't know if she'll have.
When I learned what Luna's assigned sex would be, I was immediately inundated with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was overjoyed. I could relate to a girl. I could teach her how to put on makeup if she showed interest, but tell her that it's OK if she doesn't. I could talk to her about love, sex, and consent. Then it hit me. There are so many pressures young women are subjected to. So many mixed messages they're fed, and expectations they're bombarded with. There's still so much danger that can follow their every step, and stigma that can coat their every action. It can all be so damn hard.
In terms of the person my daughter becomes, I ultimately hope she is a well-rounded, intelligent, caring human being. I hope she doesn't inherit her parents' anxiety, and that she is more comfortable in her skin than I was for two decades of my life. Still, there is a lot more I want for her. Things that maybe I didn't know, expect, or have access to when I was growing up. Things I want her to know, to expect, and to find out there in the world beyond her parents' arms.
1. To know that she is entitled to an opinion.
2. To grow up with a president who will fight for her rights.
3. For sanitary items to be accessible to all.
4. To know that she needn’t assign morality to food or size.
5. And that she can enjoy a salad or a burger without feeling guilty.
6. For reproductive decisions to be a right.
7. For healthcare, in general, to be a right.
8. To know what it means to give consent.
9. To feel free to say “no” without being afraid for her safety.
10. To feel free to say “yes” without being afraid of her reputation.
11. For her/their/his pronouns to be respected.
12. To break style “rules” because there really are none.
13. To wear whatever the hell she wants, no matter what her body looks like.
14. To know that fat, thin, or anywhere in between, she matters. She is beautiful. She is worthy of tolerance.
15. To clap back against fat shaming and other forms of body policing.
16. To allow herself to feel “pretty.”
17. To know that “pretty” is not the most important thing. Maybe it’s not important at all.
18. To know (as she does at 11 months) that pooping, farting, burping, and other such things are natural… not shameful.
19. To love any boy or girl or person of her choosing (as long as they're not a d*ckhead).
20. Every clothing store to carry every size, so that she never feels alienated.
21. For dress codes to stop being so damn sexist.
22. To know that the mantra “boys will be boys” is bullsh*t.
23. Because people should be decent human beings regardless of their sex or gender.
24. For children around her not to be taught that bullying others is form of play.
25. Not to feel trapped into staying around someone who abuses her.
26. Not to judge people according to the opinions of others.
27. Strong female friendships that empower her.
28. Strong female characters who inspire her.
29. To be proud of her weirdness.
30. And to stick up for her fellow weirdos.
31. For there to always be good toilet paper.
32. And condom dispensers.
33. And tampon dispensers.
34. To enjoy childhood when she can.
35. To enjoy adolescence when she can.
36. To hold onto the kid she was, even as she becomes a grownup.
37. To be able to step away from technology.
38. But to utilize the beauty of technology and the inter-connectivity it creates as best she can.
39. To know that books are wonderful things.
40. To be able to discuss her mental health.
41. For aspirational beauty ideals to go extinct.
42. To travel alone.
43. To travel with people she loves.
44. To know that money is important for survival in this world, but an abundance of it is not essential for happiness.
45. To work hard, but rest hard, too.
46. For quality of life to be a right, not a luxury.
47. To enjoy television binges without feeling like a sloth.
48. To enjoy being in nature.
49. To enjoy all that cities have to offer, too.
50. To poop at work if she needs to.
51. To have children, or not, as long as it’s her choice.
52. To breastfeed, or not, as long as it’s her choice.
53. To be able to breastfeed in public without harassment.
54. To walk down the street without harassment.
55. To walk alone at night without fear.
56. To dress in modest or revealing clothing without lending herself to assumptions.
57. To meet someone, or several someones, who love her just the way she is.
58. But to surround herself with people who inspire positive and progressive change.
59. To know that she doesn’t have to wear makeup.
60. But that there’s nothing wrong with doing so.
61. To know that her spirituality, or lack thereof, is her own to define.
62. To learn to work and collaborate with others.
63. But to be the boss of her own life.
64. To set realistic goals for herself.
65. To know when she doesn’t want to climb the ladder.
66. To feel like she has room to fail.
67. To know that success doesn't have to be defined by your job.
67. To ask for a raise if she believes she deserves it.
68. To report workplace harassment.
69. To try to help and support people who are struggling.
70. To grow up in a world where people of all sizes, races, sexualities, abilities, and gender identities have representation.
71. To play with toys or dolls for as long as she wants to (unless it's sleep time!).
72. To enjoy Halloween no matter how old she gets.
73. To have a sense of humor.
74. And not take herself too seriously.
75. To know that sh*tty things will happen.
76. But that maybe they make us stronger.
77. To practice safe sex, and expect her partner(s) to do the same.
78. But to know that even if she does catch something, she is not “damaged” or “repulsive.”
79. Not to worry about getting dirty if she plays outside or hangs in the rain.
80. And to sing in the shower.
81. To see music performed live, as much as she can.
82. To have empathy, always, even when it's hard.
83. To know that people are rarely solely “good” or “bad.”
84. Because “right” and “wrong” aren’t always that black or white.
85. To learn about recreational drugs, without the blinding stigmatization so often used to educate kids now.
86. To wear that low-rise bikini whether she’s a size 10, 20, or 30.
87. To know that her elders aren’t always right.
88. To stand up for what she believes in, even if that means standing against people in power.
89. To know that she can always come home.
90. To learn as much as she can about other cultures and ideas.
91. To learn as much as she can about her own.
92. To know that not everyone will like her, and that's OK.
93. To know when to apologize.
94. To listen, even if she disagrees.
95. To laugh heartily.
96. And cry as hard as she needs to.
97. To respect herself, her body, her decisions.
98. But to poke fun at, and learn from, her mistakes.
99. To know that she can have it all (the education, the job, the relationship(s), the kid(s), the rad personal life).
100. But that it's OK if she doesn't. It's OK if she doesn't want it all, too.