We were in the car listening to a song about the pressure young women face to be outwardly beautiful. The song is wonderful. I’d heard the song before, but I hadn’t listened to the words. As I listened more carefully, I was moved. I started to cry.
For those who know me well, the tears are a surprise. I am more comfortable in my head than in my heart. However I am also more emotional than most people realize. Few people in my life know this. I know this very well. I hold back tears quite often. If I’m alone, I don’t hold them back. I prefer to cry alone.
In this moment, I was in the car with my wife and my daughters. I’m not sure my nine-year-old daughter, Mahalia, had ever seen me cry. That’s ridiculous, of course, and I’m ashamed to admit it. This was the line that pierced my heart: “You don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart.” It could, I thought, but it won’t.
I sat there looking at my daughters and I was so sad. I knew that they would be hurt by the world’s conception of beauty. At some point, they would hate their bodies. This is unnecessary, but inevitable. Yes, the world could change its heart. It should.
Mahalia was surprised by my tears. I was in the back seat, behind the driver’s seat. Mahalia was in the passenger seat. She looked back at me and her reaction was wonderful. She was surprised, but she was also delighted. She looked back at me with a tender smile. It was an unexpected but touching reaction. She reached back to hold my hand. Her smile remained. Her eyes were bright.
My tears were a gift to her. They communicated something to her that was reassuring, touching. I don’t know what she saw in my tears. Weakness, tenderness, maybe the softness of my heart. I’m not sure. But it was clear that she loved my tears, and I loved the light in her eyes as she witnessed my tears.
She saw me cry, and it was beautiful.