My daughter turned 9 years old this year. As she gets older and begins to navigate peer relationships, school politics and more advanced classes, I find myself more invested in ensuring her self-esteem and sense of integrity remain intact. I was raised by a wise mother and grandmother, and they greatly informed my own ideas of what it means to be a strong, confident woman. So recently, remembering their words of advice coupled with my own experience, I decided to codify the best of what I know for my own daughter.
Here’s what I came up with and what I will be telling my daughter anytime she stops long enough to listen.
1. Your Ability or Inability to Accomplish Something Should Never Be Defined By Your Gender
Some people will try to argue that simply by virtue of your gender, you are biologically incapable of doing something. But unless that something directly involves certain specific contributions to the creation of a baby, then, frankly, they are misinformed.
2. Know How to Travel to a Foreign Country By Yourself, How to Enjoy Your Own Company and How to Change a Flat Tire
Also, remember that tattoos are forever, so, child, think before you ink.
3. Know How to Cook a Delicious Meal from Scratch, Without the Need of a Written Recipe – the Taste of Which Will Make a Grown Adult Weep in Ecstasy
Bonus points if it’s cuisine from the old country (whatever that country might be), because I think it’s important for every young person to know how to make at least one dish that comes from her people.
4. Understand that While Fashion and Makeup are Fun, They Are Ultimately Ornaments
Remember that even during the holidays, while ornaments are pretty, an unadorned home is beautiful in its own right. I want you to figure out your own different and own beauty, and know how to rock it even without a push-up bra, a miniskirt, stilettos or a fad diet.
5. Be Confident Enough to Say “No” When You Know that Saying “Yes” Will Make You Feel Like You’re Losing a Bit of Yourself
Remember that saying “no” in these situations isn’t impolite, it’s honest. Be kind, but be firm. And mean it. Always.
6. Understand Viscerally that Your Life is Good, and Millions of People in the World Have it Much Tougher Than You Do
Realize that this is due simply to the fact that you happened to be born in a part of the world where opportunity is plentiful. And therefore, you need to find a way to use your unique gifts, whatever you discover them to be, to help create opportunity for others. Because gifts are nothing if they’re not given away.
7. Call Your Mother. No, Really, Call Her
When she isn’t sharing tips on StyleUnited on how to add more awesome to your life, you can find Karen on Chookooloonks.com. She’s on a mission to prove to you that your life is filled with different, unique moments of beauty, starting with her book, The Beauty of Different. Her work can be seen on Babble.com, TEDxHouston and USAToday.