Recent studies have found that rigid gender stereotypes negatively impact girls as young as six years old, but writer Toni Hammer is doing everything possible to ensure that her young daughter maintains her confidence and sense of self.
In an empowering letter shared on the Love What Matters Facebook page, Hammer addressed a number of behaviors that she wants her daughter to avoid.
"Don't apologize when someone else bumps into you," Hammer writes. "Don't say 'sorry to be such a pain.' You're not a pain. You're a person with thoughts and feelings who deserves respect."
It's no secret that many women are compulsive apologizers, but teaching young girls that they shouldn't apologize for their feelings will likely empower them to avoid this pitfall later in life.
"Don't make up reasons as to why you can't go out with a guy you don't wanna go out with. You don't owe anyone an explanation. A simple 'no thanks’ should be acceptable," Hammer continues.
"Don't overthink what you eat in front of people. If you're hungry, eat, and eat what you want. If you want pizza, don't get a salad just because other people are around. Order the damn pizza," she advises her daughter.
"Don't stay home because you don't have anyone to go out with. Take yourself out. Have experiences by yourself and for yourself," Hammer writes, emphasizing the importance of independence.
"Don't hold back your tears. Crying means you're feeling something that needs to get out. It's not a weakness. It's being human," she continues. "Don't smile because someone told you to. Don't be afraid to laugh at your own jokes. Don't say 'yes' to be polite. Say 'no' because it's your life."
"Don't hide your opinions. Speak up and speak loudly. You should be heard. Don't apologize for being who you are. Be brave and bold and beautiful. Be unapologetically you," Hammer concludes.
These are such important messages to instill in a young girl, but it's never too late to apply them to our own lives whether we're 15, 30, or 45. Hammer's letter to her daughter is full of reminders and advice that empowers girls and women of all ages.
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