A Letter to My Daughter: How to Be a Woman in This Messed-Up World

It’s the head-scratching, heart-breaking truth: Society still treats women unfairly. One mom offers her baby girl some words of wisdom on how to take on the world.
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By Leslie Bruce, Contributing Writer
Published October 18, 2017
Mother looking at old photos of daughter
Image: Mother looking at old photos of daughter

You were born a woman—and that, my love, is magic.

My sincerest wish is that as you grow up, the world grows with you. I dream for you to live in a society that sees your value and affords you 20 percent more than what women are getting paid now; that no longer labels motherhood a “disability” and honors your right to have ownership over your own body. I pray our culture evolves to educate and condemn those feeble souls who would call you fragile or inferior simply because you are female. I hope, with every fiber of my being, that you never encounter insults, accusations, judgments, innuendos, harassments, assaults or any abuses just because you were born a woman.

Being a woman isn’t something to apologize for, as some small-minded people might have you think; instead, treat it as the miracle it is. If you trust in your faith, surrender to your patience and be ruthless in your drive, there’s nothing in this world that’s beyond your grasp.

I want you to never read this letter, because that would mean these words are no longer necessary. But if you do, you’ll most likely be older and ignoring most of what I say. Should you take no other advice from this mother of yours, I beg you to remember these important things:

• Stop being so polite.

• Be loud, ruffle feathers and cause a scene.

• Look people in the eye.

• Be decent and compassionate, but never, ever complacent.

• Relish in your womanhood and nurture it, but decide for yourself what the hell “ladylike” means.

• Use your brain, your cunning, your wit and your skill to succeed. Fight for the job, the raise and the recognition—if you deserve it. If you don’t, work hard and try again until you do.

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• And when you eventually get it, don’t you dare apologize for it.

• Be aware. Always, always be aware.

• Wear a pantsuit. Wear a tight dress. Wear a swan costume. But don’t ever let it wear you.

• If you get a tattoo of a name, make sure it’s your own.

• Show kindness to people who deserve it. Those who don’t, show them the door.

• Listen to Lady Gaga and watch Legally Blonde.

• Talk to your parents. I guarantee we understand more than you can imagine.

• Support other women. Listen to their stories and share your own.

• Use the F word when the situation calls for it. Use it sometimes when it doesn’t.

• Know your worth. It shouldn’t be hard: You’re priceless.

• Don’t be embarrassed of yourself because a man tried to define you. Be embarrassed for him.

• Respect your body—and demand that others respect it too.

• Whatever repercussions others may warn you about, none will be greater than the voice in your head if you say nothing about a wrong that was done to you.

• You are fierce because I made you that way. You are loving because I made you that way. Know that I am always here, even when I’m not. I’m a part of you always.

• Never let anyone treat you poorly. But if they do, just remember what I said: Stop being so polite.

Published October 2017

Leslie Bruce is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning entertainment journalist. She launched her parenting platform Unpacified as a place for like-minded women to come together on relatable ground, no matter how shaky, to discuss motherhood through an unfiltered, judgment-free lens of honesty and humor. Her motto is: ‘Being a mom is everything, but it’s not all there is.’ Leslie lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Yashaar, and their 3-year-old daughter, Tallulah.

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