Dear 8th grade girls,
I’m sorry it is so confusing. Messages are being sent from all directions – some screaming, some in whispers – and they are so very different.
People you love and trust are telling you to be yourself, that you can do anything you set your mind to. We tell you how valuable you are.
We tell you these things with our words, but our actions speak a different story.
When someone you admire and respect – your teacher, your principal, your parent – entertains you as a reward with music that screams an entirely different message, there must be part of you that feels the poster-worthy encouragement start to cheapen and lose it’s meaning.
You deserve respect, we say.
When a guy you like has a girlfriend, tell him you will give him your body for the evening if his girlfriend is getting naggy, we let Missy Elliott say to you at your 8th grade dance.
Sex is a beautiful gift you and your husband can one day share, we say.
Your body is simply for the pleasure of men, and you are lucky to have someone like me want you for a few minutes in a bathroom stall, we let “Sage the Gemini” blare to you at a school reward party.
The right man will love you like Christ loves the church, we preach to them.
Your body should be given to a man who wants to bring you pain for his own pleasure- after all, he is good-looking and powerful, we let you hear as your mom gushes over 50 Shades of Grey and plans a girls-night-out to see the movie.
You are beautiful just the way you are, we say.
Mostly-naked, Photoshopped women holding their bikinis is really what is beautiful, your dad is saying as he keeps the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
I’m sorry. Our messages are conflicting, inconsistent. And most are lies.
The truth is – you do deserve respect. You are beautiful, and my prayer is that one day you will find a man who will try so hard to love you like Christ loves the church, and who can physically respect your body and respect the gift of sex like God intended it. My prayer is that my son will be that kind of man.
I want you to know that so many other things matter more than your physical appearance. Your character, your compassion, your kindness, your humor, your ability to find joy. Those are things that carry so much more weight than “being hot.”
Don’t settle. Please don’t change who you are because you hear that it’s what a guy wants. And please forgive me if you have heard it from me.
The adults who want to do better