Lorelei splashed in the tub as I gently washed the shampoo from her curly hair. She is the first born of one of my dearest and oldest friends, Katherine. I spent the week with them during my Chattanooga speaking tour.
“My curls are tiny!” Five-year old Lorelei exclaimed. “Some people have bigger curls and some people don’t have curls.”
She nodded in agreement and we went on to talk about other things that make us different.
“My friend has dark skin and doesn’t need sunscreen, but my skin is really white and needs lots of sunscreen,” she said proudly.
We talked about tall/short, curly/straight, dark/light, large/small…all things that make us each uniquely different and beautiful.
After bath, Lorelei, her mom and I snuggled in bed watching a quick cartoon before bedtime. Lorelei happily chomped away at her night snack before her mom turned off the TV. She kissed me goodnight and headed upstairs for her final bedtime routine.
I went into the living room and began thinking about my night with Lorelei. Suddenly, my heart sank. In a few years, Lorelei will start questioning all of those wonderful things that make her uniquely beautiful. The world is going to tell her that her hair should be straighter, longer. Her skin should be tanner. Her body taller, smaller.
While we can’t rid the world of these messages, I know we can and will do everything to protect Lorelei’s ears from these unwanted messages. Luckily, Lorelei was born into an extraordinary tribe of women.
First off, her mama is one of the most ferocious, compassionate, sensitive and bright women I have ever met. Her aunt, Charlotte, is always there, along with her tribe of Green Cove aunts – ready to remind Lorelei that what she hears from the outside world is noise and we don’t listen to it. We measure our worth by what is inside and how we treat others.
My time in Chattanooga was closely followed by my annual camp reunion weekend. A weekend filled with yoga pants (no yoga, just the pants), wine, cheese and mountain sunsets. It is a weekend where my tribe comes together to laugh and refuel our tired spirits.
We are all so very different, living in every corner of the US. We love different partners, we believe in different faiths, we are tall, short, big, small, dark, light, curly and straight. No matter how different we are, we stand together, lift each other up and support each other through life’s trials. I’m fairly confident I would not be alive today without these women.
Established in the 1980s, our bond runs deep. In a few years, our children will run and hike the same paths we did as children. Marjorie, Lorelei, Cecilia, Kate, Harper, Woods, Ramsay and many others will find their tribe. Marjorie and Lorelei will remind each other that their curly hair rocks and they can be girly AND strong.
So while my heart momentarily broke for Lorelei, I quickly realized my heart should rejoice. Because Lorelei will be forming her tribe soon that will help her tune out that outside noise. Lorelei will forever know and be reminded that tiny curls are amazing and porcelain skin is beautiful.
We are all beautiful, in every way, every color, every body. So to my sweet Lorelei, never listen to the haters – find your tribe and know you are beautiful and amazing just as you are.
It is never too early to start talking to your little ones about what makes us different. Knowing that we come in all different colors, faiths, bodies is a wonderful thing. Start embracing these differences before they hear the world tell them otherwise! Who knows, you might learn something! Sometimes our biggest lessons come from the tiniest messengers.