From a Mother to all Daughters.
A young girl shuffled into my studio. She yawned and opened up her violin case. We chatted briefly about our respective weekends. I asked her what her plans were for the evening as I strummed her instrument quietly and turned the tuning peg.
"Oh, I think my family is going out for dinner afterwards." She continued as I lifted the music stand to her height. "We don't go out to eat all that much."
"Why's that?" I asked, only half-paying attention.
"Because I'm getting fat."
My eyes instantly met hers.
"How old are you?"
"Eleven." She adjusted her glasses and scratched her nose.
I nervously stacked her music books on the piano bench but the moment was gone. I panicked inwardly. Say something. Respond. Now.
I was at a loss for words. You're eleven and you think you're fat? Eleven?!?! I wanted to stop the lesson entirely. I wanted to face her, straight-on with my hands on her shoulders and tell her how it was. Truly. I wanted to stand next to her in front of the large mirror in the studio that is normally used for posture exercises. One postpartum, 20-something body next to a vibrant young-girl's. What is one to say? "Oh, no you aren't. How absurd. You are just fine. You're so pretty."
We played some songs and she packed her bags and headed out after 45 minutes. The songs seemed so silly, so trite next to a dear being that was battling such ideas. If one could call it battling, it seemed more like a resolute and affirmed paradigm within a young girl's body. No longer a little girl, not yet a teen.
I turned off the lights and slipped my purse over my shoulder. Driving home, I turned off the radio and inwardly formed a letter I wanted to mail out to every girl on earth. A letter I wanted to whisper in my infant's ear that very night:
From this mother's heart to the daughters of the world,
If you have never been told and even if you scarcely believe it yourself, let me nail this proclamation to pillars of your heart and let it pulse within you from head to toe: you are unique, you are beautiful, and you are glorious. We have skin, we have bones, and we have flesh that encase a beating heart and soul. I think you shine.