I'm writing you this letter because I love you. Part of that love includes hope and happiness and dreams, but it also includes fear and worry and limits. I understand that can be annoying to you, since you're almost 13 and you seem to know it all, but one day, God willing, you'll understand.
So there's been a lot of hype in the news lately about Victoria's Secret line of underwear called "Bright Young Things." Wow, people are upset. Critics complain that when a popular and successful company like Victoria's Secret sells underwear that says "I Dare You" or "Wild," they over-sexualize young women and send the message that your value is connected to how you look in your underwear. Victoria's Secret says that the BYT line is designed for college-aged girls so it's ok, since the girls are 18 or older. I think that teen girls and college-aged girls, and even 39-year-old moms, should be hearing one message only: YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE A GIFT. The way you look in your undergarments does not define who you are. Period.
In many ways, your dad and I want to shield you from growing up too fast. We want you to remain our innocent little girl who loves music and coloring and dressing up. We are still trying to get used to the pain that comes with packing away American Girl dolls and Disney Fairy books and too-small holiday dresses. It physically hurts to finish these chapters of your life even amidst the excitement of the present. In so many ways, we watch as you teeter on the brink of growing up and we witness the competing magic of your childhood encroached upon by the inevitable dawning of adolescence. It is a conflict for you, we know. We are conflicted too.
On the other hand, we want you to be prepared for what lies ahead, to feel comfortable with who you are and what you believe in, especially when the teen culture surrounding you emphasizes things like popularity, looks and wealth. And that preparation requires your dad and I to do some hard things.
Bella, we don't want you to ever feel like you're more or less, because of the clothes you wear or the things you have.You are unique, lovable, wonderful and worthy just by being you. God created you and you are a GIFT. You will know girls whose parents have unlimited resources to get them the trendiest clothes, the latest electronics, and one day, even a great car, but they do not limit the amazing potential that you possess. Likewise, you will know girls who are going through an acne phase, who wear their sister's hand-me-downs. They are no less deserving of your kindness. Please remember, you shouldn't place value in those girls merely because of what they look like or what they have. Each one of them deserves the opportunity to achieve greatness separate from their circumstances. Please, take the time to get to know them.
Sometimes, there is so much attention given to outside forces of influence that we, as parents, forget the great amount of influence that we have at our fingertips, inside the home. That is a mistake. I want you to know that you will have friends who are allowed to wear shorter shorts or more make-up than your dad and I are comfortable with. You will meet people whose parents give them more freedom than we allow. And that's ok. We live in a community that embraces diversity, from cultures to curfews, from religions to rules, and rather than waste time judging, your dad and I are committed to finding the right rhythm for our family. Our job is to thoughtfully, responsibly, teach and care for you. And you will notice that our recipe will differ from other families that you know. Remember, that's ok.
There will be a time when you will want more than what we permit and that may even cause you to roll your eyes and swear at us under your breath. But we promise to be consistent, to love you, to remind you that what you are made of is much more important that how you make yourself up. While you are under our roof, we will establish rules and renegotiate them when necessary. We will talk to you and always be available to answer your questions. We will challenge you to be the very best version of you, starting with your beautiful heart. And we will love you even more.
We will outline our standards and hold you to them. We will strive for your respect, more so than your friendship, even though that's harder than being "cool" parents. We will love you in ways that feel like smothering and nagging, but trust me, it is love.
We promise to tell you things when the timing is right for us, and for you. We will not scare you or use guilt as a motivator. We will teach you things that you will need to know as you partake in life's greatest adventure: growing up. And that will be hard for us because we want to protect you and keep you from feeling the inevitable pain and heartache that life delivers. But we will do our best because we know that along with the falling and hurting is the growing and soaring and oh so much happiness that life also has in store.
And when you purchase your first pair of lacy underwear, you will remember that you are much more than fancy packaging, because we will always tell you that and show you that. And I would be lying if I didn't also tell you that one day, donning a pair of sexy underwear will be important to you and your husband, that it will be completely appropriate and enjoyable and healthy. But we can't have that conversation until you're much, much older.
Love you forever,