Dear Princess Warrior,
Life is hard for a human being. Life for a female human being can be even harder. There are 15 things that I wish I had learned earlier that will make your life that much easier. I hope these will come in handy.
1. There will come a time in your life when you will want to create change on a macro scale. You will wish you had the power to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate the illiterate, empower the oppressed. These big ideas are so so important, but it’s also important to keep in mind that you need to live a good life on a micro scale as well. Be kind to the outcasts at school. Empathize with strangers. Respect your friends and family. So often, I see groups of friends decide to hate or judge a particular person for some small reason, and those kinds of things can send people into depression. It’s a type of bullying. Remember that good people can be bullies without meaning to; bullies can be your friends. It’s up to you to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. Sometimes it’s up to you to make the difficult decision of standing up to your friends.
2. If he isn’t texting you back, if he isn’t making an effort to be with you, forget him. No matter how strong the jawline, no matter how long the lashes, there lies another boy out there who can top him. I promise. Never chase after a boy, because like buses and trains, when one leaves, another will come along to take its place.
3. The healthier you are, the prettier you will be. Notice that I said “healthier” not “skinnier.” And the most important kind of health for beauty? Take extra good care of your skin, which means water, facial cleanser, toner, moisturizer, acne cream. All water based and oil free. Twice a day. Every day. Don’t forget some water-based sunscreen.
4. Don’t date in middle school. You’ll only regret it. (Dating in high school can be quite a waste of time as well.)
5. Don’t do things just to try to fit in. It will be tempting. Don’t do it. No ad can tell you what to wear, no celebrity can tell you how to do your makeup, no cool crowd at school can tell you how to act, no cute boy can tell you what kind of jokes to make. You decide. And I could tell you to be yourself, but it’s not really that simple, because I doubt at age 11, you know who you are. I’m writing this to you at age 19 and I am far from knowing who I am. But I am closer to figuring that out than I was at 11, that’s for sure. Just don’t do things because of other people; do things for yourself.
5. Blow dry your hair downwards. It’ll prevent frizz.
6. Do a sport and stick with it. Even if you think you aren’t athletic or even if you think you suck. This is something you won’t regret, especially if you choose the sport yourself.
7. Do one thing that makes you happy or inspires you every day.
8. Here are the ingredients to a good handwritten letter: an inside joke, a unique compliment, something that you’re both looking forward to, a genuine promise, and something vulnerable that you might not say to them in person.
9. Blend your makeup and use primer. More importantly – go easy on the eye makeup as a beginner.
10. The first time you’re ever cat-called will likely be terrifying. I want you to breathe, stay safe, walk away, and process it for a second. Realize that you live in a patriarchal society where some men feel entitled to your body and your attention. Pity them. Pity them for listening to society’s screwed-up messages rather than the strong women in their lives. And empower yourself by knowing that you are, in fact, an underdog woman warrior who is fighting against this enemy of misogyny and patriarchy.
11. Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be a diary – I’m sure you can come up with something more creative than that.
12. If a boy ever tells you you “run like a girl” or “fight like a girl,” tell him “good.”
13. There are unspeakable, horrible evils in the world. But hate cannot be fought with hate, and violence cannot be fought with violence. You can’t hurt people and expect to right their wrongs. You can only fight brutality with compassion and love; you can only drive away darkness by turning on the light.
14. If you ever feel stressed or depressed, talk to someone. Know that insecurity and anxiety is normal.
15. Read. Read everything and anything until you find what you’re passionate about – picture books, Popular Science, fashion magazines, comic books, the daily news, 20th century literature, Shakespeare, literally anything. Then, read some more.
16. Don’t judge other people by what they wear, how they present themselves outwardly, what they listen to, what they eat, what they believe in, what they were born with. This includes that one chick who wears high heels to school every day or that guy who’s autistic. Judge others purely by their morals and values.
17. You’re beautiful and unique. We’re all beautiful and unique. There’s so many beautiful and unique people out there in the world, and you only have a limited time on earth to get to know them.
18. Keep pads/tampons, a hair tie, a pen, and kickass lipstick in your purse at all times.
19. Even the worst human being is still human. Psychopaths, sociopaths, and criminals didn’t make themselves – society, propaganda, cultural systems, politics, brainwashing, family, the environment, genetics, and so many things that they can’t control made them. That’s why we have to be kind to every human being, and that’s why every human being deserves a second chance. Maybe it’s a naive notion to think that people are good, but I don’t think it’s naive to be good yourself – to practice a bit of empathy. You don’t have to like every individual to understand a little bit of where they’re coming from.
20. Like I said before, I want you to be yourself. If this means disregarding all of the above, then so be it. I don’t care if you’re not the girl who actually carries around a purse or who wears makeup or gives a shit about hair frizz. I don’t care if you’re a girl who does care about all those things, and is actually very passionate about beauty and fashion. I don’t care if you don’t identify as a girl at all. So there, be yourself, unashamedly, unabashedly. And I will always love and support that.