Strong is the New Pretty.
I read those words, on a size 7 shirt, and knew it had to join her wardrobe.
I’ve expressed concern, a time or two, although perhaps not on here, that Lou, my seven year old daughter, doesn’t know yet who she is, her sense of self. She doesn’t yet have an identity. A larger one that brings along with it pride and confidence, about herself, for herself. You may read this and argue, she is only 7; she is too young to have an identity. Perhaps my desire for her to know who she is comes as a result of Coco. Coco is Lou’s eleven year old brother.
I am not certain when it happened. When Coco discovered his identity. At what point he discovered who he is, what direction he wishes his life to take, and what his strengths are. However, it happened. He is focused. Knows what he wants from life. Who he is. Where he plans to go. I think there is something to be said about all of this. The confidence that comes for him in the world with him knowing what he is all about. His dreams, his desires, his aspirations, and what he needs to do and who he is that will allow him to get there. And the thing is, I want this for Lou too.
Sometimes I feel like it is more important for Lou, because she is a girl. I don’t want her to get lost. I don’t want someone else to determine her identity. To tell her how or why she is important. I want to help her to define that for herself, and, I think, we are getting there.
Lou is a gymnast. A real, true to the word, gymnast. She proved it just last weekend at her State gymnastics meet. Placing 6th on both Beam & Floor, 5th on Bars, and 4th All Around. Lou has been doing gymnastics since she was 2 1/2. It all started in a Mommy & Me class. Which came about as a result of something she said to me when she was 2 1/2.
Coco has always played baseball. Prior to Lou ever being born. Watching him, being his cheerleader, it is really all she has ever known. At the tender age of 2 1/2 Lou said to me, “Mommy, someday when I turn into a boy, and Coco turns into a girl, will you watch me play baseball and cheer me on too?” That moment left no doubt that it was time for Lou to discover something to be all about her. It ended up being gymnastics.
Five years later and here we find ourselves and along with it I believe she is finding her identity. Oh happy Mom!!
Gymnastics has made Lou strong. Pound for pound, she is the strongest in our family. I am not certain she has an inch of body fat on her entire body. Fine, slight exaggeration. However, her arm and back and shoulder muscles….let’s just say she’s made her mom envious! 🙂 A couple years ago, heck, even 6 months ago, if I talked to Lou about her big muscles, or, brought attention to her strength she would get quite embarrassed. Not now. Now, everything has changed, thanks to American Ninja Warrior.
Lou discovered the show a couple of months ago. She loves it! She watched it just once and when it was over she said to me, “Mom, when I grow up can I be an American Ninja?”
Oh yes my dear. You can be an American Ninja. You can be whatever you wish.
At that very moment Lou discovered that being strong, and being a girl, are good things. They are things that deserve attention. They are things that can, and do, go hand in hand. That one night, of watching one show, taught my Lou that she can be strong and be proud. And I must say that as she works to define who she is, I like the word strength being in her repertoire. I like that Lou now has pride for herself as a result of her being strong.
My daughter will grow and as she does she will have many people try to define her. Tell her what makes her special, important, pretty. As she grows I can only hope that she continues to grow strong. Yes, her muscles but also inside. I look at my Lou and I see a pretty girl. More than anything though I hope that her version of pretty, for herself, is defined in another way. Seeing herself as strong is a wonderful start.