if this watermelon radish was my daughter…

So, have you seen this?

its been going around on my Facebook, a lot. and it’s been on HuffPo. And some tons all of my mom friends have shared it and commented on it and shared it some more.

it’s this piece called I am Beautiful, Girls or I’ve Started Telling My Daughters I’m Beautiful it’s written by a blogger/mother named Amanda King.

It’s a candid musing, by an off beat mom, about her perfect little girls and her relationship with her body.

I think maybe she is struggling with body acceptance.

Aren’t we all, though, really?

She talks about perceptions of beauty.

and her size.

Her girls are perfect, she says.

“They sparkle and dance and when they sleep they are little perfect tufts of white in the moonlight.”

She is going to start telling herself she’s beautiful, she says, in front of her daughters. She wants them to hear her acknowledge her own beauty. When her daughters are older and their breasts start to sag, they will hate their bodies because that’s what they’ve seen women do. She wants better for her daughters; she wants them to see her “modeling impossible beauty.”

Her essay is so very well written and kind of enchanting and really moving.

Read it, here.

My description doesn’t really do it justice and she’s from Pittsburgh, so I like her even more.

I like how she’s clearly not your typical stay at home mommy blogger. I like how she openly addresses her insecurities. she is a great writer. and I like how she seems kind of weird. sort of, like how I see myself.

all of my crunchy mom friends shared her essay. I’ve probably read it a dozen times and it really got me thinking.

why are so many smart, young, capable, accomplished mothers preoccupied with their daughters feeling beautiful? why are these mothers, who tend to buck the establishment and all its patriarchal views about women, why are they so concerned about “feeling” beauty?

AND if its so fucked up and hard for them to reconcile, why in hell are they pushing this problem on their daughters?

it’s confusing, to say the least.

I seriously think, all these moms are missing the mark, when they thrust this heavy bag of must-be-beautiful-all-the-time garbage on their daughters.

Sorry, mommies, but, I guess I’m kind of calling you out.

Now, I don’t have a daughter; I have a son.

And who knows, if I will ever have a daughter. I may toss this type of stuff around forever, pontificating and criticizing but, never actually having to deal with the complexities of parenting a little girl.

But I do know, what I’d do, if I had a daughter.

If I had a daughter who looked to me to make some sense of the nuanced and imposing and tangled up role beauty and self-worth will play in her life, I would say it’s OK to be plain.

It’s OK to plain or different.

Or fat or saggy or tired or sexless or even ugly.

Yes, it’s OK to be ugly, daughter of mine.

It’s OK to be any of these things.

And all of these are worthy of love.

I would tell my daughter it’s OK to not be beautiful.

I would tell my daughter not to get caught in the claws of this beauty trap.

I would tell her she’s not a princess.

I would tell her about the many people, all throughout her life, who will judge her worth, based on her appearance. and I will tell her over and over again, that those people are wrong.

I will tell her, even if these people in her life, judge her based on her looks, she shouldn’t judge herself that way.

It’s OK to be exactly how she is.

When I imagine myself having this talk with my imaginary daughter, she is a watermelon radish.

Yup, one of these:

DSC_0151-001

I know it’s absurd.

But, it’s my imagination, isn’t it and my blog and I can pretend my daughter is any type of root vegetable I want.

I am imagining my daughter is a watermelon radish and I’m telling her its OK, if her pale pinkish radish skin is plain and ordinary. I’m telling her its OK to be different from all the other radishes. It’s OK to be ordinary and regular and unremarkable looking. It’s OK to have scars and be nicked around the edges. it’s OK if you’re bruised and imperfect. Its OK to stand out, too, because, you don’t look like everyone else.

DSC_0159-001

I’m telling her all this, my daughter the radish, not because I know one day she will turn into a swan and be beautiful and happy, like in the fairy tale.

I tell her, because no matter how perfect and beautiful and amazing, I think she is now, I know, one day she will be old and her beauty will fade and her skin will get wrinkly, and she might feel invisible and she will have to find a way to love herself.

I tell my daughter the watermelon radish to love herself for everything she is on the inside. I want her to be proud of her heirloom heritage and bright pink insides.

I want my imaginary daughter to cultivate her character. And measure her worth based on her actions and accomplishments.

So that when her radish outsides wilt and she turns unappealing, when she can no longer use her youth and beauty as currency to get what she wants, she will still feel confident in her worth.

I don’t want her to feel heavy and weighted down with the expectations of other people. I want my daughter to pursue a career in math or science. I want her to do it because it will never have occurred to her that she wasn’t good at math.

Do I want to teach my radish daughter to feel beautiful?

Fuck No.

I don’t.

The list of things I want her to feel is so fucking long there will be no room for beautiful on it.

I want her feel strong and capable and confident. I want her to feel kind and compassionate and giving. Honesty, loyalty and bravery all had better rank higher on the list than beauty, for any daughter of mine.

Beauty is such a fucked up complicated double edged sword.

The weight of this burden is why we have eating disorders and red hat ladies and $500 eye cream and fucking cam girls.

All of these things are pretty gross.

and all of these things are the products of little girls coming to terms with the fact that society considers their beauty intrinsically tied to their worth.

And this very heavy beauty burden we give to our daughters, we don’t give it to our sons, and thats not fair.

Can you imagine how absurd it would sound, if I wanted to make sure my son felt handsome?

I mean, on any day except picture day.

almost as absurd as having a radish for a daughter.

Am I playing arm chair quarterback to another mother’s parenting?

Yes, I kind of am.

Am I criticizing?

A little, I guess.

Is that OK?

I’m not trying to mommy shame or indulge the mommy war machine. I recognize that we’re all in this parenting thing together. And that it’s hard and that we are all, mostly, doing the best we can.

And YES, I totally understand that last mother on earth and all of my mom friends who shared this post on Facebook, mean well. I totally get that they mean well.

But, this preoccupation with beauty and even weirder “feeling” beautiful, is being shoved down little girls throats from every direction.

I get a little heart sick when I see mothers doing it to their daughters.

It’s poisonous.

Encouraging little girls to strive for traits they can’t control, is misguided. and it’s sick and sad.

it sets them up for failure.

and it’s confusing.

It’s especially sad to me, when young thoughtful mothers, my age, push this crap.

where are the viral essays going around Facebook telling our daughters, that their mothers are strong or resilient or worthy of respect?

we need more of these.

I propose we lay off of daughters, and ourselves.

for fucksake, give the beauty bullshit a rest.

it is such a tiny part of who we are, as women and an even tinier part of who our daughters are, as little girls.

someone PLEASE PLEASE write an essay called I Can Make My Own Destiny, Because I Am Super Fucking Capable, Girls.

thanks.

also, my fellow mamas, while we’re at it, can we pretty please agree to teach our daughters that trading stupid posed duckface selfies for Internet likes, from randoms is majorly lame?

it’s how they end up on pages like jailbait and fap fodder for douchebags like this.

TL;DR stop shoving dumb beauty bullcrap down girls throats all the time. watermelon radishes are pretty neat looking.

and here is a recipe for watermelon radish salad.

IMG_2041AND, also this.

16 thoughts on “if this watermelon radish was my daughter…

  1. Okay, so I don’t think you’re calling me out as much as you think you are. In fact, I agree with you, with everything you’ve said. We’re just going about it differently.

    Hi, I’m Amanda, by the way. I’m so glad you think I’m weird and likable.

    This I Am Beautiful, Girls thing was something I just sat down and wrote on my personal blog, never dreaming that over half a million people would read it, so it’s been crazy. I think that different people get different things out of it, and maybe lots of people read it differently than I meant it. Or something.

    But, my point wasn’t ever about needing my girls to feel beautiful, according to the way we define beauty. It wasn’t about how I’m not really beautiful, but that I’ll tell my girls that I am, hoping to trick them into feeling beautiful, even when they’re not… like when the boob thing happens or if they get fat, or whatever.

    It’s important to feel beautiful, if we are, because we are a nuanced species obsessed with beauty. We’re obsessed with the boring trick-biological kind that society sells us, the kind that likes youth and breedablility. We’re also obsessed with art and music and color and light and photography and I don’t know… artifacts and pottery and city sky lines (of which ours is the best, by the way) and literature and interior design and pink radishes, or whatever. Being surrounded by beauty makes us saner and happier. It makes us better people. It is why we build community flower gardens in collapsing neighborhoods. It is why we go out on Earth Day and clean up the Monongahela Trail.

    (Stick with me. I’m about to bring this all around to an actual point.)

    We find beauty all over the place. We surround ourselves with it. Seek it out. Long for it. Some people die for it. It’s important. It is important that we understand that we are a part of the tradition of beauty on this planet. That we are marvels, too, as beings, as people, as bodies, as composites of mutated Hydrogen molecules, as little creatures evolved from the stuff in the belly of a dead star.

    It is not important, however, that we feel like princesses. It is not important that we feel like we look good in jeans. It is not important that we feel like we have nice butts, or that our skin is smooth enough and our waists are small enough. It isn’t important for me to teach my children to feel physically beautiful. I am not trying to teach them that, even if they end up a little funny looking or something, they should still hold their heads high, and believe they are pretty, somehow. (My children aren’t funny looking, just as a disclaimer.)

    The whole point of the I Am Beautiful piece that blew up and exploded and went around the world, is that… by putting myself down in front of children, I was teaching them that the rigid, unfair and totally moronic standard of human beauty that we’re being sold, (and eating up with a spoon,) is valid. That it is what human female beauty really means. In the whole rest of existence, weird and imperfect things can be beautiful and we pay money to look at them in art museums and hear them live in concert, but in being a woman, only this ONE THING equals beauty. And, since I wasn’t beautiful because I was too fat and old and lumpy and saggy, and I’m the biggest role model to my children and we live in a gross society, one day, they will suddenly decide that, unless they are thin and young and pretty, they aren’t beautiful. And from then on, they won’t exist within the longstanding and heartbreakingly important tradition of loving and revering beautiful things that is pretty much the meat of our existence.

    My deal isn’t that I’m not beautiful, but that I want to trick my kids into thinking that I am. My deal is that beauty doesn’t mean what we think it does, what I think it does, after existing for a lifetime in a world that sells me my insecurities and laughs all the way to the bank.

    We are WIRED to love beauty. Meant to love it. We are TAUGHT (and bought and sold) to love pretty, and dresses, and feeling attractive. Feeling beautiful, for me and in the spirit in of my article, doesn’t have anything to do with feeling attractive (or even the slightest bit appetizing.) It’s the art installation kind of beauty, only in human form. The kind that, when it’s done right, is powerful and sexy and religious without being the slightest bit pretty.

    PS. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this topic and my writing and everything. I didn’t write any of this comment in a spirit of animosity or like, being confrontational or anything, just in case that wasn’t clear. (Sometimes things come off weird, in these cases.) I just wanted to share with you my expanded I AM BEAUTIFUL, GIRLS, since you brought it up. <3

    • Wow. Thanks for much for coming over here and commenting. I never would have imagined you’d have time to respond, since you’re a big time blogger and all. :) I really appreciate it. Your piece was really moving and a lot of women really felt touched by it. I feel like you’re really talented.

      And I guess we do agree. Especially about finding beauty everywhere and being wired to seek it out and be near it. Sometimes, it’s hard to be a woman. And a little confusing. It’s inspiring to me that thinking women are sharing their stories with the world.

      And thanks, again for sharing your thoughts with me. I’m so flattered you stopped by.

  2. What a beautiful post, Naima. I am so with you about teaching a daughter to be not so pre-occupied with outer beauty. How difficult it will be for a girl to link her self-worth with what people sees. Oh well, you expressed it much better than I do. :-)

  3. When your blog showed up in my email inbox, I was captured by the title (which is amazing, btw). Your voice is so strong – and it’s awesome to see the exchange between you and the original blogger. Happy that this is from Pittsburgh ladies!

  4. Pingback: if this watermelon radish was my daughter… | Life As I Know It...Food,Fashion, DIY & Parenthood

  5. This is fantastic. Such a great rant on beauty and capability and radishes – the watermelon sort are so delicious. I am going to have to visit Pittsburgh where you amazing writers live!

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