An Open Letter to My 6-Year-Old Daughter on “Being Cool”

August 30, 2016|Posted in: Parenting


Dear little one:

You’ve been talking a lot lately about what makes girls cool, and how you wish you were a “cool girl.” When I asked you what you think makes girls “cool,” you’ve said, for example, that Jasmine* is cool because her mom lets her wear makeup or Debbie* is cool because she wears high heels.

You’ve said you think you’re “not cool” because you have to wear glasses, and this breaks my heart.

I understand that at this stage in your life, your frame of reference is not very broad. Consider this exchange between Joy and Disgust in the movie “Inside Out,” which you’ve referred to repeatedly:

Disgust: Okay, we’ve got a group of cool girls at 2 o’clock.
Joy: How do you know?
Disgust: Double ears pierced, infinity scarf.
Joy: Whoa, is she wearing eye shadow?
Disgust: Yeah, we wanna be friends with them.
Joy: Let’s go talk to them.
Disgust: Are you kidding? We’re not talking to them. We want them to like us!
Joy: Oh, yeah. Wait, what?

I get it. When you’re a kid–heck, when you’re an adult, too–it’s much easier to fit in than to stand out. You want to feel like you belong. When you see girls your age wearing makeup and high heels, it makes you feel like you’re missing out.

But baby girl, I’m here to tell you: You’re not missing anything.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned in my 40+ years on this planet, it’s that “being cool” has nothing to do with eye shadow or shoes.

Rather, cool has everything to do with having self-confidence and being proud of the decisions you make.

High heels and double-pierced ears might be fun to wear, but they do not make you cool, my love. You know what does make you cool? Pursuing your passions, no matter how offbeat your peers may think they are. Standing up for your personal, religious or spiritual beliefs, no matter how much they’re challenged. Standing up for kids who are being bullied, and sitting with the kids that no one else wants to sit with at lunch. THAT’s what makes you cool.

Cool is runner Nikki Hamblin stopping to help competitor Abbey D’Agostino after they collided during the Rio Olympics, when she could have just kept going and secured her place on the medal stand.

Cool is Alicia Keys refusing to wear a lick of makeup and rejecting the standards of manufactured “Hollywood beauty.”

Cool is Debbie Sterling founding GoldieBlox, those toys you love so very much, when most STEM fields remain male-dominated.

I could go on and on, my sweet little girl, but just remember: cool is being your own person, even if the so-called “cool kids” say it isn’t.

And above all, know this: In your mom and dad’s eyes, you’re already cool. And you always will be.



*Names are fictional.

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