Dear Anne and Evelynn:
Here are the lies, my dears:
You are only as good as you look.
You are only lovable if you have a rock hard body.
You can conquer your feelings of inadequacy by being skinny.
Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
Everyone judges you by how you look and talks about you behind your back.
Beautiful is defined by your culture (and so it is beautiful to be frightfully skinny with bolted-on boobs and an identi-kit face).
You are not worthy of love if you are not beautiful.
Sure, I will talk and teach and train but I am learning this: you will sing my songs.
And so I will sing a song of wonder and beauty about womanhood for you to learn from my lips.
I will lead the resistance of these lies in our home by living out a better truth.
I will not criticise my sisters for how they look or live, casting uncharitable words like stones, because my words of criticism or judgement have a strange way of being more boomerang than missile, swinging around to lodge in your own hearts.
I’ll wear a bathing suit and I won’t tug on it self-consciously. I will get my hair wet.
I will easily change my clothes in front of your Dad, proud of my stretch marks that gave us a family, of breasts that nourished his babies.
I will prove to you that you can be a size 12 and still be sexier than hell.
I will prove to you that you don’t have to be all angles and corners, that there is room for some softness because you all love to hug on my soft bits, burrowing into my arms and my breasts to rest for a while.
I will eat dessert and raise my glass and laugh my way to deeper smile lines.
I will celebrate your own beauty, my tall girls, but I will do my best to praise your mind, your heart, your motives as much as I praise your beauty.
I will not let the words “I’m fat” cross my lips – especially in front of you, my beautiful girls.
I will celebrate beauty where I find it, in a million faces uniquely handcrafted by a generous God with a big tent of glorious womanhood.
I will tell stories of women and surround you with a community of women who are smart and strong, crazy and hot-headed, gentle and kind, women who love and you will see that this is what is beautiful, that a generous love is the most gorgeous thing you could ever put on.
I love you.