We tell them touch is dirty, hugs are easily misinterpreted for something ugly, their bodies are dangerous, boys are bad. But what about the boy that needs a hug from the girl growing up with him next door to help him through a tough day at the mercy of playground unkindness? What about the brother that finds the world so hard and cold he turns to fighting with others rather than get the need for touch met curled up in the arms of his big sister as she reads him to sleep at night? What about the other girls who learn they need to focus on being better, looking better, getting better grades, doing better things than her rather than holding her hand and dancing in the rain?
We do not tell them they are a beacon of light to us and other children, that beams of beauty and healing flow from their fingertips and into the veins of those they touch. We do not show them that their kindness makes the world a better place by simply being here. We do not teach them that their bodies are made with soft rounded edges to express the welcoming gentleness of their souls within. We never give them permission to learn love as a clean and essential thing, to use touch to bring power to the world.
Instead we cover their budding forms with drapery and block the power of their purity from view. To protect it, we say. We need to do this, we say. We stifle the very sunlight and oxygen they need to grow strong and healthy. We flout the purpose beauty has, which is to be seen. We pour their liquid innocence into a cubed plastic trays and put it in the freezer. As if beauty could ever be killed. As if we could really protect their souls from being hurt. As if love could ever be ugly. As if the dry edges of hard cold could be better than the wet heat of heartbreak.
Yet there are those who crack their shells open and learn to build fences instead of walls. They let themselves be seen and trust themselves to monitor the distance between their bodies and others. There are those who create boundaries balanced with the boundlessness of their hearts. Large light shines around the edges of the little bowls they were first hidden under. Silver linings warm even the darkest of their interactions. Electricity strikes when their palms touch the businesslike hands of others to seal the deal, to welcome the discussion, or to end the meeting. Their black-ice pantsuits hint at the curves of hearts still beating hot red blood deep within.
We do not teach them, but our girls learn that they can be love and light in their world. They are women now. The only permission they need is their own.