For my post this week I want to share with you a letter, written by a daughter to her mother. The letter, a chapter from Julia Morris’ book “Dear Mum,” intimately reveals what many young women have gone through in their relationships with their own mothers. It boldly opens, “Dear Mum, I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible.”
My mother is one of my best friends, oldest confidantes, and greatest partner on our adventures and summer vacations. I learned almost everything from my mother and like to believe that many of my best qualities come from her (my dad too, if he’s reading). I have her bravery, her perseverance, her eyes. Like her, I am a strong, independent woman.
There is nothing quite like the relationship and bond between a mother and daughter. That is why this letter, from Julia Morris’ book, struck me hard. It calls to mind the other parts about me. The self-doubt, the wavering confidence, the pressure I put on myself whenever I feel less than perfect.
“In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:
1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie.
2. Fat is ugly and horrible.
3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.”
Feminism has done something to me. Over these past few years it has been a new partner, a new guide, in discovering my self-love and my power. It has enabled me to see myself clearly, beyond the superficial norms, stereotypes, cultural pressures and stigmas we must face on a day to day basis.
Now, I don’t blame my mom or harbor any forms of negative energy towards her. Like the author of the letter writes to her mom, “I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.” This young generation of feminists is doing a great job speaking to our peers, to society, about the problems that face us and the changes that need to be made. But reader, we also need to speak to our mothers. We need to sister up, and spread the message to the most important woman in our lives. I think that’s truly powerful.