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Be You Boo

“when your little girl

asks you if she’s pretty

your heart will drop like a wineglass

on the hardwood floor

part of you will want to say

of course you are, don’t ever question it

and the other part

the part that is clawing at

you

will want to grab her by her shoulders

look straight into the wells of

her eyes until they echo back to you

and say

you do not have to be if you don’t want to

it is not your job

both will feel right

one will feel better

she will only understand the first

when she wants to cut her hair off

or wear her brother’s clothes

you will feel the words in your

mouth like marbles

you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to

it is not your job”

-Caitlyn Siehl


Image: Henri Cartier-Bresson - Mexico (girl with braids), 1934.

I remember the teenager pain that I experienced when my dad said he was disappointed that I cut my long blonde hair. There was another time when we were jogging together that pierced my heart when he said, “If you did this every day, you could have a 24” waist.” I loved my dad dearly, but he was infected with and imparted a societal message of my job description below; “to be pretty.” Not to speak ill of the dead, I will add that he was wildly proud of my job as a mom and as a new credit officer at a bank, and he was a loving father. But, the underlying message of being pretty that was reenforced in my life is still a child-wound source of inner work. What does it mean to feel the pressure of being pretty? What might feel better to me? And the big one, will my husband (aka father figure to my inner child) still find me pretty if I “let myself go.” Today, I’m letting my unbleached hair grow in naturally, and I’m comfortable with my soft waist that birthed two beauties. I feel comfortable in my own skin, and I feel happy as an emerging crone of natural beauty. Of course, my hair is really long ...


Maybe I just like it that way. At least I’m aware of what is going on beneath the surface of my psyche.