I understand that you have goals for us. You need people to fill your roles so that life can continue as planned, and you need to make sure people understand their own places within your hierarchy. But wow, you really should go about doing it another way that doesn't involve beating down and stepping on young girls every step of the way.
The contradictions and oxymorons that you feed to females throughout their entire lives are crippling enough. The lines between being confident or bitchy, proud of yourself or slutty and outgoing or conceited give everyone (even the socially apathetic ones) anxiety, making them stressed about accidentally coming across as more obnoxious or uncaring than they actually are and miscommunicating their purpose. But that isn't even what I am writing you to complain about today; it is about the gross unfairness that is heaped upon girls from the age of 12 to 15.
You tell them to find themselves and throw stereotypes at them, but only a select few stereotypes are the "chosen" good ones. Yet then, when everyone attempts to meet them since that is what is labeled as "successful" or "destined for success," suddenly they are basic, unoriginal and just another mimic. You tell them that they must be unique and creative to be themselves, but you permit everyone else to laugh at the ones that stick out and are different. You allow certain things to be branded as "cool" and "allowed," but then simultaneously look down on the people who enjoy them, even the people who genuinely enjoy them and don't use fads as a way to gain friends.
And speaking of friends. You teach kids that they self-worth is measured in the friends that they have, the number of people they surround themselves with at parties or in the hallways, the number of likes that they receive on Instagram. You teach them that they are only beautiful or worthy of being loved if they are told this by other people. Then you look down on people who have "fake friends" and who spend too much time on their phones, telling them they "clearly aren't enjoying life enough."
But what is "enjoying life?" You, as society, have glamourized drugs, alcohol and crime in ways that have made them accessible and desired by young kids. Middle schoolers own vapes and sneak out after curfew to smoke marijuana, sometimes even selling drugs to make extra money. Then you label these kids both "maturely developed" and "immature delinquents" at the same time and call for a disciplinary program to be instated, completely ignoring the causes of the problem.
And the kids that try to hide from this, to separate themselves from an age group they do not want to be associated with and to keep themselves away from habits they do not want to acquire, are labeled "reclusive and antisocial." Friendships made digitally are discounted and looked down upon, and kids are constantly reminded that their friends online might be predators and cannot be trusted (another example of the extreme overgeneralizations that pervade our society), yet another way of making them feel isolated and alone.
Yet possibly the harshest judgment that you pass upon these young kids, and most specifically on these young girls, is that of attention. You teach that there is an art to receiving attention - you must be funny or attractive, or both if you're really lucky, but anything short of that is obnoxious and you ought to be ashamed. And I would know - as a child, I won both a writing and a reading contest, and I was beyond embarrassed of the congratulations I received. I did not want to be in the spotlight, and I resented the attention I was receiving because it meant people were looking at me and judging me.
They probably weren't, in hindsight. But how was I to know, because you had instilled in me that everything was a competition? You had taught me from such a young age that being second was the first of the losers, that success could only be achieved by stepping on the heads of my peers and that to be on top was the ultimate goal. You taught me that eyes were everywhere, making judgments on my person based on my clothing, my hairstyle, my makeup and my posture, instead of on my achievements, my smile and the contents of my heart... and you have continued to do so. You have made young girls who dared to show kindness feel as if their lot in life is just to be used and taken advantage of and thus allow it. You have beaten down assertive women by calling them "scary," "brash" and "bitchy," making them feel as if they have to choose between being loved by others or living alone in a palace of gold and thus forcing them to leave their paths of success to a man, whom you will shower in praises of his manliness.
And I was not the stereotype that you'd told me I should have been, so I was ashamed of myself and I hid. I was not proud of myself. I was too tall for my age, I had braces and I had hit puberty a little bit too young, so I stood out. All I wanted was to disappear into the floor as I tried to hide the fact that I was wearing a bra at age 11 and I lied about needing glasses so I could fit the "nerd" stereotype, and then I didn't have to talk to anyone, and they couldn't see that I was boring and different. Was I? Of course not. But I wasn't the girl that you had told me that I needed to be, so I hated myself. And even until I was 15, I lied about my grades to my peers so that I did not seem to be as smart as I actually was and so they would feel good about themselves.
You have made brilliant, beautiful girls feel that they deserve to throw competitions and give away their rightful earnings to "make other people feel good." You have empowered some people to crunch others, and you have made others feel okay with being crunched. You have made people feel as if they deserved abusive relationships and friendships and have kept them in it because you have taught women that they are nothing without their men or their large circle of friends, and you have poured self-hate down the throat of every single woman that has ever existed, unless she was one of the ones that you empowered.
I pray that every girl reading this has the strength to throw that self-hate back up in the face of everyone that has ever tried to squash them. I pray that every girl stands up for herself, gets the new friends or new boyfriend that she deserves and is proud of her hard work. I pray that one day, you as society begins to embrace the unique spirit inside every female like you do with males and that loathing and bullying ceases. Because the ages of 12 to 15 are pivotal, essential to development.
And we need everyone, whole and empowered and complete, to get together, because these divides and put-downs are keeping us from working together to solve society's problems.
With an extreme hope for change,
Your daughter, who survived your abuse.