The front door banged shut, rattling the entire house.
My teenage daughter Emily stormed into my bedroom, full of fire and vinegar, bursting to tell me what had just happened.
“You will NOT believe this,” she began.
Emily is a bold punk rocker who plays bass guitar in an all-girl band.
She’s the feminist I wish I had been, back when I was 14. Sure, I was a pretty outspoken teenager, too. But Emily makes the 14-year-old Susan look like a regular Southern debutante, dressed up for an afternoon tea party, in comparison.
I leaned forward, curious about what had riled her up.
She dove in.
Turns out, the father of one of her classmates at school had attended her rock concert, chaperoning his daughter.
And after the concert, he had taken it upon himself to give Emily some unsolicited style and dating advice.
“You don’t need to wear that red lipstick,” he admonished her. “You’re much prettier without it. Trust me. You don’t need to wear that stuff to attract boys.”
Emily’s head almost exploded.
She replied to Mr. Dad:
“I think you are confused. I don’t wear lipstick for the benefit of boys. I wear it because I like it — because it makes ME feel confident.”
With that, she strode away, hopping into the car where her own dad was waiting, stupefied.
After recounting this story to me, she bristled again.
“I don’t understand why MALES think that everything we do is to impress THEM! I can do things just because it makes ME feel good, you know?”
I nodded. Damn straight. And damn proud of my daughter for grasping that lesson now, at such a young age.
Yes, we all want to be likable. We all want to be loved. We all want to impress certain people… and we all want wear outfits that make our husbands’ and wives’ jaws drop to the floor with delight.
But if every choice you make is solely designed to please others, that’s a problem.
At some point — like my sheroes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — you’ve got to grow a pair (of ovaries, that is) and say:
“I’m doing this because I like it. I DON’T CARE IF YOU LIKE IT.”
Red lipstick. Tattoos. A mohawk. Vulgar jokes instead of “ladylike” ones. An unconventional job that makes you happy, instead of the career your mama wanted.
Whatever you like.
Even if “they” don’t approve.
It’s your life, not theirs.
Go get it, girl.
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