Open Letter To My Daughter (1)

by Judy Bowles

Dear Daughter,

Seems strange to being writing to a daughter who is also a wife and young mother - where did the years go? It seems like only a year or two ago that I was walking you to school for your first day, and you fell over your satchel strap and cut your knee. And here you are, a mum. And that makes me a grandmother!!

You know, that puts me into the category of the “older women” that Paul talks about in the New Testament. The ones that have a duty to teach the younger ones about discretion, loving their husbands and loving their children. Gulp, that’s some responsiblity. Thought it might be helpful to put my thoughts down on paper, because with the birth of Catherine, you too have a daughter to teach these things to one day!

I was thinking the other day that those 3 categories are areas in which we women wield an awful lot of power - have you ever thought of it like that? The “girl power” of today’s society is a poor second best to the real influence we women have, and in this letter I’d like to go into the “discretion” bit with you.

The power we have starts in teenage, and we women generally let it go to our heads! All of a sudden collecting cuddly toys loses its appeal and we start collecting boyfriends instead. We notice the opposite sex, and they notice us! It can be exhilarating. Every generation that comes along feels it has invented sexual attraction, but it is as old as Adam and Eve. Don't get me wrong - its a good thing, but we need to handle it and ourselves very wisely at this time, or we could make mistakes that we will regret for the rest of our lives.

As teenagers we tend to get starry eyed with romantic ideas about particular boys, but romance tends to be far from their minds. A big mistake we females often make is to think boys and girls think the same way about sexuality. I can well remember some of the clothes I wore in the ‘60’s - shiny tops, velvet mini-skirts, topped off with false eyelashes and lashings of silver and gold eyeliner. I thought I looked like a million dollars! Did I stop to think about what message I was giving in these skimpy clothes - did I ever! I was at the cutting edge of the fashion of that day, the “Swinging Sixties” - that’s all that mattered. Working at Granada Television in the West End of London meant that I had to be right up there with the best of them.

It wasn’t really until I met your Dad that I began to understand the male mind as far as male-female attraction goes. He explained that these admiring glances that I was getting from the fellers didn’t mean they were impressed by the cut of my new Mary Quant outfit, they were far more interested in the parts of my anatomy that were not very adequately covered! I don’t think we women really understand the male mind on this score. We tend to want to be “fashionable”, to wear the right styles and brand names that will bring acceptance by the in-crowd. But we may unknowingly be causing a problem to the fellers who are trying to live the right way - and that’s just not fair, is it?

I well remember an incident one Sabbath morning. I had recently lost the post-baby weight that I’d been carrying, and had treated myself to a new black and white dress in a style that showed my new figure off to advantage. Your Dad said - “I’d really rather you didn’t wear that to church. Sure I like it - I like it a lot - but for all the wrong reasons!”

I just thought the dress make me look slim and in fashion, but to his male eyes it emphasised the bits that shouldn’t be emphasised - not outside the home, at any rate.

Being “discreet” isn’t the same as being dowdy. You don't have to settle for a wardrobe full of shapeless sacks of dresses. You have a good sense of colour and style. You know what skirt shape and length suits you best, and that a V-neck looks better on you than a round neckline. Capitalise on your assets, but discreetly. Timeless, classic styles can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion, always look good and can save you a lot of money that you might spend on hot-fashion mistakes! If you’ve ever scanned the “Best and Worst-dressed fashion pages” you’ll see where the revealing outfits end up! Dress to the standard we have taught you. Don't be a slave to a fashion trade that has no sense of right or wrong. I read somewhere that “your dress should be tight enough to show that you are a woman, but loose enough to show that you’re a lady”. You don’t have to dress like a “femme fatale” to get attention - the ladies we saw in Nigeria still managed to look stunning in ankle length robes and kaftans.

Do you remember that book I showed you called “The First Five Minutes”? It shows that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so make it the right one! You may stand out in a crowd, but it will be for all the right reasons. If you have the courage of your convictions, you will win grudging admiration from others and I can guarantee positive responses from the people that really matter.

Got back late from work today due to crush in the supermarket. Seems like the “shop early for Xmas” has been taken to heart. That’s another time of year we can feel pretty alien! I find the hardest part is the Xmas lunch at work. I don’t mind so much being the only one left at her computer while all the other staff go off to the restaurant, but the bit I dread is when they return 3 hours later. They have all obviously had too much to drink - and drunk women are not a pretty sight! And their language deteriorates as well - and the jokes get more and more risque. That’s another thing we do well to watch - I read somewhere that a women can’t drink as much as a man before it has a negative effect. Why some girls want to beat the boys at their own game beats me! We have so much going for us as a sex - why get a crew-cut, do weight-lifting and dress like a feller!

I do feel very sorry for you youngsters, having to survive in as society that openly flaunts these standards. It can be very hard to swim upstream. I know. I’ve been there, done that, as they say. I was only 19 when I worked for Granada TV in London. The offices were overlooking Carnaby Street, which was the fashion hub of the whole world in the 1960’s. It was at this time that I became interested in the church and it wasn’t long before I realised that the clothes I wore were totally inappropriate. I can still remember the look of horror on my boss’s face when I turned up for work in a knee-length skirt and a face devoid of the false eyelashes and the luminous eye-shadow! It was hard at the time to “swim against the tide”, but boy, was it worth it. I had a goal, and that goal was worth being different for. I wanted to go to Ambassador College. And I did, and I met your father, and here you are!!

Better go now, time to get some dinner ready. Will write soon about the power we have in the marriage relationship. You know, its fun to be female! Keep smiling,