I'm not around very many young girls these days. I don't work with kids and I don't have any of my own and I don't have a lot of friends who have kids yet. I don't feel like I really have the opportunity to tell young girls all the things I want to say to them. So maybe you can do me a favor. Can you just tell a girl something for me? She can be your daughter or your neighbor or your student. She can be the girl you babysit or your niece or granddaughter. But can you please just do me and her and the world this one small favor?
Tell a girl that she's smart. That you are impressed by the way she solves problems. That her mind is something valuable. That she can command people's attention with her intellect. That it's OK to be confident in her own intelligence.
Tell a girl that she's strong. That she can handle so much more than she thinks. That it's OK to trust her instincts. That she can grow from any challenge. That she is more than her mistakes. That she can be trusted to make good decisions for herself.
Tell a girl that she's more than what she looks like. That she doesn't need to be afraid of thighs or hips or wrinkles. That she deserves respect no matter what she's wearing or how old she is or much she weighs. That she doesn't need to change herself or hurt herself to be accepted. That she is created in the image of the Most High.
Tell a girl that she's worth it. That she has a voice. That she has allies and advocates. That you will stand by her side. That she shouldn't be ashamed of who she is. That she doesn't have to believe the lies that people will say about her. That one day she will be called a Woman of Valor.
Will you tell her? Will you tell a girl these things for me? Because I'm scared. I'm scared that if girls don't hear us, they will start listening to what the world tells them.
If we don't tell girls that they are smart, they might hear the world say they are stupid. That their opinions don't matter. That no one will like them if they act intelligent. That they are too emotional for their thoughts to count. That they always need decisions to be made for them.
If we don't tell girls that they are strong, they might hear the world say that they are weak. That their own instincts can't be trusted. That they won't be able to handle pressure or stress or challenges. That they can't lead others. That they don't have what it takes.
If we don't tell girls that they are more than what they look like, they might hear the world say that they will never be good enough. That everyone has the right to judge their bodies in the most scrutinizing and vicious ways. That the level of respect they deserve is based on their appearance. That they are sluts and whores and asking for it.
If we don't tell girls that they are worth it, they might hear the world say that they don't matter. That they are alone with no one on their side. That they shouldn't try to speak up because no one is listening. That it's pointless to fight. That rhetoric and politics and dogma are more important than their humanity. That the status quo must be preserved at all costs.
And I know the voices of the world are so loud. Too loud to get through to these girls, our girls, and it feels like nothing will ever change.
But what if our voices were the loudest ones? What if we shouted at the top of our lungs and our shouts sounded like grace and love and freedom? What if we sang with wild abandon and our songs sounded like bravery and solidarity and honor? And what if these girls, our girls, carried our shouts and our songs with them wherever they went? So no matter what lies the world tried to feed them, they would hear our voices, our shouts and our songs, and be reminded that they are never "just" girls and that they are cherished beyond belief.
So until I can tell these girls, our girls, everything I want to say to them, I'll be here. Singing and shouting until the end. Because these girls, our girls, are worth it.
Now, about that favor...