We often take pride in the things we teach our daughters, our god daughters, our daughter’s daughters, girls we are responsible for in any capacity. We give them an education, we impart our beliefs to them, and even if we do not force our beliefs on them they are exposed to them from an early age and we hope that they grow up to become better than us. We hope they will understand the importance of a moral universe, where they are able to choose good from evil. We should teach our daughters this and more. Here are two more things I will teach my daughter:
Don’t be a stupid Black girl.
And by this I do not mean the girls Pink referred to, in her song ‘stupid girls’, frankly I think those girls are just bored, fatigued, perhaps, by the monotony of life, all they need is a bit of life to slap them in the face and they will be flung voluntarily or not into more elemental pursuits. So I don’t mean them.
By stupid black girl, I mean a girl who is confused as to who she is. Like Gloria (not her real name ), a girl I met in my early years in London. I asked her where she was from, not because I didn’t know she was Nigerian, but because I wasn’t sure which part she was from. Gloria was pretty girl, very trendy and worked for a major fashion outfit.
‘Where are from?’ I asked.
‘I am originally from Nigeria,’ she said.
As I said, it was my early years in London, and as a JJC, I sat there trying to understand what ‘originally’ meant. Did she mean she was no longer from Nigeria? Had she gone through the process of full migration and decided that she no longer wanted to be associated with the Nigeria because of some cataclysmic personal experience?! I later found out that she came as a student, didn’t finish her course and was still in Visa wahala. In fact she was deported not long after that conversation, to the country she was ‘originally’ from.
I will tell her about beauty
I don’t mean stifling her with praises on how princess-like she looks and how much she is a fine girl etcetera. Now, all that is well and good, but it won’t help with your daughter’s self-esteem/worth; that would be implanting into your girl, an over-inflated ego and turning her into a little narcissist.
As much as the word narcissism is being bleached, to denote a more upwardly preoccupation, it is still in many cases a personality disorder, and often points to an ‘unconscious shortage in self-worth’. Take ‘Chloe’ (not real name); gorgeous face, breathtaking figure, her beauty has been the focus of her being from infancy, so much so that it has rendered every other cognitive part of her, redundant. Chloe doesn’t work. Chloe has no sense of duty or purpose. Chloe says things like ‘pretty girls don’t work, I will marry a rich man and he will take care of me’. There are many Chloes, watered-down one dimensional girls, strutting our streets, you stop them and look into their minds and all you can see is NOTHING!!!
I am not talking about that kind of beauty. I refer to beauty of a deeper kind. Beauty grounded in unseen values, values that build confidence. Confidence that makes her whip her plaits, when her white neighbours and schoolmates toss their locks. I will seek books, films, toys with colored heroines. I will point out the black skinned girl on the street and call her beautiful. And then I will bring up Lupita Nyong’o. Pheeewww! Thank God for Lupita!
For beyond the $150k pearl dress; the Prada magenta Deco print dress; the emerald green organza Dior ball gown, and the Mui Mui spring campaign deal as well as the Lancôme ambassadorial endorsement, Lupita remains flawlessly and inherently graceful. She powers through the canon of Western beauty with poise and elegance and erudite phraseologies. No one has quite shifted the dynamics of beauty, since the days of Grace Jones.
I accept that there will be days when my daughter will feel like her dreams are stifled, or when she feels her skin colour/blackness is getting in the way. On that day, I will remind her of Lupita’s closing sentence in her award winning acceptance speech “When I look down at this golden statue’, she said, ‘may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”