An inner dialogue 30 years apart.

She whispers to me through the pictures.

“See this face? It tells you the truth.”

I’ll wear this dress. I’ll do what little girls do but there’s a truth inside that I need you to hear. That I need you to see in my joy with this glove.

I need you to listen when you’re older, when you’ve practiced leaving and letting go so many times it will become easier — -and possible when the time comes to let go of me.

To let go of a me that was made by a culture of beautiful girls and strong boys. You’re one or the other, they say.

“I can’t choose,” she tells me. “I want to be both. I want to be beautiful and strong, inside and out. I want to do, be and have it all. The best of both or all of who a person can be.

Will you do that for me? When you’re older and get to choose what feels good and right and real?”

I will, I say.

I can.

I did.