“ELLE BEE'S LOVE SONG BY ELLE BEE HOCKEY JESUS. WHEN I LOOK AT MY REFLECSON IN THE MIRROR I SAY TO MY SELF… WOW WHAT A BEATYFUL LADY I AM LOOKING AT!! I’M GOING TO STARE AT MYSELF ALL DAY LONG WITH HAPPYNESS AND LOVE! JUST LOOK AT THOSE BLUE EYES AND LOOK AT HOW THEY SHINE IN THE LIGHT! I LOVE TO STARE AT MYSELF! BY ELLE BEE HOCKEY JESUS”
The kid’s a lot like her daddy. Sometimes I get out of the shower when my endorphins are all popping and zinging after a run—zoom buzz crackle—and I see myself in the mirror and say “Damnnn, motherfucker, you’re rocking 40 like 3 the hard way.” But that’s to be expected. I’m a narcissistic blogger gazing selfishly at my self-absorbed navel.
My daughter’s different, though. She’s a little girl staring at her reflection in a pool of water—in love with herself—and it’s beatyful. When I found her note I wanted to mix it up into a bubbling red potion that she sips from every morning for the rest of her days.
Because it’s coming. Everyone knows it’s coming and that it can’t be avoided. Sure, we can (and will) support and bolster her sense of self with worthier props: her intelligence, her integrity, her sense of humor, the mere stunning fact that she’s a girl in the world. And that’ll matter. It will; it really will. But it still won’t negate the fact that our culture is cocked and loaded with its finger itching to shoot her in the face.
There will come a day when my daughter will feel ugly for the rest of her life.
Do you remember? When you were beautiful? And then? … You weren’t. How did that happen? When?
Dear Women. I have tried to love you. I’ve smelled your hair and kissed your shoulder and written poems about your bones. I’ve studied your neck with my fingers for hours. I’ve looked you dead in the eye, shocked into presence by your sight, and said My God you’re beautiful (and I meant that shit too). But not once, not with a single one of you, have I made a dent in your armor. You’re so tenaciously devoted. Married. Committed to being not pretty.
What a fucking pity. To know with our heads that it’s bullshit. We say intelligent things about impossible cultural ideals and the arbitrary nature of beauty. And we shout defiant things about refusing to measure ourselves in shallow ways, about our insides, about how much they count. But it always feels like we’re still in the emergent phase of trying to believe ourselves.
Ladies. We know you know you’re beautiful. We know you know that it doesn’t really matter. But our girls need you to either believe that it doesn’t matter or to really emerge into feeling beautiful. For myself, I prefer the latter. JUST LOOK AT THOSE BLUE EYES AND LOOK AT HOW THEY SHINE IN THE LIGHT! Or perhaps what I hope for most is a new way of seeing that permits the nobler qualities we wish for our daughters to blur and mingle with the physical apprehension of them. I can’t abide in a world without beauty. But I can help labor toward creating a world in which the definition of beauty is cracked open to form new relations and connections to women.
With poems. Poems for women. Poems for my daughter. Poems wherein visions of beauty are lodged more in feeling than seeing. ALL DAY LONG WITH HAPPYNESS AND LOVE!