I don’t use that acne cream because I don’t want to be beautiful for you.
Ever since I was 15 or 16 you have been on a crusade to make me pretty or at least make me less ugly in your eyes. At the time I went along with it because I thought I wanted to be pretty as well. I too thought that I needed to be fixed.
So you paid for Weight Watchers, a membership to Curves, laser hair removal, acne cream (even though it is not acne, just typical teenage blemishes) and sweat suits for three Christmases–all in the hopes I would be a daughter worth your love—a “beautiful” woman.
But like everything else in my life, I realized I could never be good enough. I would always be too fat, too plain, too liberal–too different from what you wanted me to be.
In your defence, it is not really your fault. Like all women, you were taught that a woman’s worth is based solely on her looks. When I came home crying in middle school over being fat and friendless, I know you hurt too. You didn’t want your baby girl to be ridiculed and unhappy. So you did the only thing you knew.
You stopped giving ice cream after dinner (even though I didn’t ask often anyway).
You started to say things like, “You really shouldn’t eat that.” Or “You shouldn’t eat after dinner.” You started giving me the stink eye when I got seconds or ate more than one roll at dinner. You started to comment on things being, “too tight”, “too short”, or “too revealing.”
I know you did this because you had my best interest at heart. You didn’t want me to be ridiculed anymore. You wanted me to have friends, to be popular and well liked. But I don’t think you anticipated the negative effect your body policing would have on me.
In your attempt to help me conquer my enemies at school, you became my enemy at home.
I didn’t need another person to tell me how I was not enough—least of all my mother. By policing me you betrayed me—your daughter’s heart.
I needed you to remind me that I was smart (maybe you did, but I don’t really remember), that I was strong and that I am enough.
But your passive aggressive criticism of my body reinforced my belief that I was worthless. This belief impeded my ability to make friends or to date. In affect what you did for my “best interest” emotionally and socially handicapped me.
So now at age 24, after graduating from a bullshit conservative college where I had to fight tooth and nail to rediscover my authentic self—I say thanks, but not thanks to your meddling.
You have hurt me so much already; I refuse to feel guilty about not using that expensive acne cream.
It breaks my heart you can’t see the woman I have become that all you see are my pimples. I don’t need to be beautiful to be worthy of your love. Please see me for who I am. Maybe we can heal together.
Let’s contemplate the miracle of our embodied spirits. As embodied spirits we all deserve respect no matter how our spirit is embodied.
Please don’t take this letter as a “hate” letter. I wrote this out of longsuffering for the relationship we should have as mother and daughter.
Your baby girl.