This post is part of the #DearDaughter campaign, and is written as a letter to my daughter on what constitutes a strong woman.
To my beautiful daughter Salem,
I’m not sure when you’ll read this, or how old you’ll be. I’m not sure if you’ll be reading this on your wedding day, or the day after my last.
Perhaps you’ll read it with your mother, which – given the topic – would be pretty much the perfect way to do so.
You see, your mother is the strongest woman I know, and I see her strength in you every single day.
Your independence. Your inquisitiveness. Your fearlessness. Your caring. Your openness.
Your unfiltered love.
And it’s important to have these strengths, because so many people in the world will try and force you to hide them, because you’re “only a woman”.
(Note: you may read this at a time when being a woman isn’t viewed as being a second-class citizen – I can but hope. If so, ask your mother what I’m talking about, or use the Google if it’s still around)
But “they” do this through fear. Because strong women make “them” uncomfortable. Strong women take away “their” control. Strong women negate “their” very reason to exist.
You may ask how you know if you’re a strong woman.
Sweetheart, the fact that you’re your mother’s daughter means you already are, because you’ve lived your whole life so far learning from the strongest woman I know.
But if anyone can’t see that, and they need more specific definition, I offer two pieces of advice:
Learn to love the word “why” and use it all the time
- Why can’t I do that? Because it’s a man’s job?
- Why can’t I wear that? Because a boy can’t control himself around me if I do?
- Why don’t you pay the same? Because I’m a woman and the other candidate is a man?
- Why am I even asking these dumb questions?
There are probably many more why questions that have arisen in your life up until this point.
Some, I hope I’ve been able to help with. Others, perhaps, are more in your mother’s domain (though I’d hope you felt comfortable enough to ask me, you just preferred your mother).
Either way, own the “why?” question and never feel like you need to justify the question when it’s the right one to ask (you’ll know when it is).
Be who you needed when you were younger
I hope that as you read this, you recall the times I stood up for you. The times I encouraged you. The times I fought for you.
But just in case you don’t, for hopefully some other reason than I never actually did these things for you, then I ask you to be who you needed when you were younger.
Because if I wasn’t there to fill that need, or I failed you in any way, then that anger you probably have at that feeling of abandonment will build the strength in you that I failed to give.
So be strong, if that’s what’s needed to make “they” become “we”. Only when the world is we do we all become free. Only then do you not need to be a “strong woman” – you simply need to be a woman.
And if I’m not there to see that world with you when you read this letter, I’ll be waiting for you to tell me all about it when I finally do see you again.
And I hope that’s a long, long time from reading this letter, my strong, beautiful daughter.
I love you. xxx
About the campaign: The #DearDaughter campaign encourages dads to write a letter to their present, future or fictional daughter or granddaughter about what it means to be strong. It’s part of Legacy Out Loud, a global initiative that empowers young women to think and act entrepreneurially, reverse engineer their careers, and become the leaders of their generation. You can find out more about the #DearDaughter campaign here.