Dear Little One,
Yesterday, I overheard your brother tell you, “You’ll always be a little sister.” And you responded, with all the fire we have come to expect of you, “I’m not always going to be a little girl—I’m going to be a big person!”
You are four years-old, and you may be little on the outside, but there is nothing little about you on the inside.
However, your brother will not be the last person to make you feel little on the inside. And I’m guessing someone will try to keep you feeling small with one teeny, tiny word:
With that word, they want you to remain small in the one place that really matters: your heart. They know the truth: sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can really shame you. Shame you into silence.
I don’t think they’re doing it on purpose. They’re just doing what powerful people do—instinctively clinging to their power. Men, in particular, will be inclined to use BOSSY on you. I don’t blame them. Most men have been taught from birth to believe their own worth is predicated on being strong, powerful, and in control. They’re just doing what they’ve been trained to do:
They want you to doubt the authority residing at the center of you.
The dictionary defines authority as “a persuasive force.” I’m in awe of your persuasive force. But the world will be terrified of it. Because when the “little” people on the margins of the world begin to feel strong—when the powerless begin to sense the authority hibernating in their hearts—the powerful tremble.
So when someone calls you BOSSY, I hope you will respond with two little words of your own:
And then tell them you have banned BOSSY in the most important place of all: your heart.
This is the beginning of a letter I wrote for Disney’s Babble.com, in conjunction with LeanIn.org’s “Ban Bossy Campaign.” To read the rest of the letter click here.
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