Fighting Back! The Backstory of My Crowning Glory

Children's Books Children's Poetry Mothers and Daughters Self Esteem

Every little girl has that one thing that begins the unraveling of her confidence, esteem and sense of self. For my little girl, it was her eyebrows.

A few weeks before her 9th birthday, I noticed small changes that began to occur in her character, body language and overall disposition. She was moody and snappy. She was always covering her face with her hair. She was quiet and sullen. My artistic, quirky, charming and confident little girl was withering and I had no idea why.

One evening as I was tucking her into bed and covering her face with Mama kisses, she burst into tears and blurted out that she had been made fun of because of her eyebrows. ( They join in the middle.) Of course I did everything I could to soothe her sorrow and did wide pendulum swings between Teacher Mom and Mama Bear. ‘ Who said this? Mama will go sort them out RIGHT NOW’ and ‘Ok, let’s talk about what we can do in situations like this.’ etc… It didn’t matter, nothing was working. Not even Frida Kahlo or that one European model could make a dent in her anguish.

And then of course there were the gremlins in my own head screaming ‘ Don’t screw this up! Do you want her to end up like you? Think foolish girl! You’re the MOM for goodness sake! Years of doing workshops and classes for leadership and self esteem for girls, this was my thing, my passion, and yet I kept fumbling for words, because suddenly, it became REAL. REALLY REAL.

This was MY daughter and her heart broken and bleeding there in my hands.

So I did what I knew best, I asked her to breath with me, breath and listen carefully as I held in her tight in my arms.

‘You are smart. You are kind. You are lovely. You are brave. You are funny. And YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Your Mama will never lie to you, there is NOTHING you have to change. YOU ARE ENOUGH.’

And for one hot minute… MAMA LOVE WON.

Until… the following week.

We were visiting someone’s home and she saw a show where the characters were mocking a girl with a ‘unibrow’ ( A word she didn’t know until the day) and they didn’t stop until she had a ‘makeover’ and was suddenly accepted among her peers.

My daughter’s rage that night was palpable. She ran to her room and examined every doll furiously and opened every book on her shelves and looked at every female character and seethed in anger and hot tears.

‘NONE OF THEM! Look! LOOK!!! None of them look like me Mama!’ And she fell on the bed in deep sobs, but what she said next is what broke us both.

‘ I didn’t know Mama! I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS UGLY UNTIL TODAY !!!

And there it was. My precious gift. My most cherished and beloved daughter… unravelling before my very eyes.

I had to do something! I called in my village. Every Wise Woman, She-Warrior, Mama Bear and Lipstick Sister I could think of. I needed help and strategy on this one. They were lovely, and sweet and supportive. So many ideas and solutions, but nothing suggested felt ‘right’ It was a wide spectrum between ignoring it and removing it.

If I ignored it as ‘a phase’ then the message would be that her feelings and this experience did not matter to me and that she would have to figure it out by herself and we all know the path that takes us down.

If I took her in to simply remove the hair, then I would be setting the precedent, that every time someone said something negative about her body that she would need to go and change it. And worse than that, the message that she was not ‘good enough’ until the hair was gone would be loud and clear. She needed to change to someone else’s standards to ‘fit in.’

This right here, is NOT the foundation I want to start her tween journey of discovering femininity and self worth.

Nothing became clear until one night I overheard her father speaking to her in Spanish as he was tucking her in. ‘Tus cejas son la corona de tus ojos,’ ‘ Your brows are the crown of your eyes.’ I stood still for a long time, thinking. Those words just struck me. ‘ The crown of your eyes.’

I sat down and began to write and re write and write some more. It was a poem. A simple verse in rhyme. Full of whimsy and wonder and pure empowerment and all about … you guessed it. EYEBROWS. The special kind, the ones that hold pinkies while everybody’s looking.

By dawn, I decided it needed to become a children’s picture book that would be presented to her before or by her 10th birthday. I then began the journey of finding an illustrator who could capture the vision and give my little poem wings to soar and a crown for my daughter’s head. There are no words to describe the sheer giddy joy I felt after finding Kristina at @kduttonillustrations who has made my words come alive in image and wonder.

It has been a steep learning curve on this roller coaster journey into the publishing world but every moment since making this decision has just been RIGHT. You know those days when you drive to work, and every song on the radio is your favourite and every traffic light is green? That is what creating this book has been like. Answered prayers and wide open doors.

Truthfully, I don’t know how she will react. Maybe she won’t ‘get it’ till much later in life. But, she can never say that her mother didn’t try to help the best way she knew how.

Will she pluck and preen one day? Probably. The pressure of the machine of conformity for the constrained ideal of female beauty is pretty intense. But if this Mama can replace that choking spiral of self hatred into a few more girlish twirls of self acceptance, even for a little, then THAT will be MY crowning glory.


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