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On Being and Becoming a Woman: A Letter to my Mother

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

For a while now I’ve wondered what Women’s Day really means – in the grand scheme of things, but more importantly, for myself, an actual woman. For a lot of others, it’s about liberation, equality or simply a global celebration of who we are because collectively women have achieved a lot, and I mean A LOT.

I guess for me these thoughts always bring me back to my mother, the OG, the magnum opus, my blueprint of the perfect woman. Once I start to bring my mother into the conversation in my head, however, then the term woman starts to get construed in a different way. Because there’s a different kind of appreciation for a mother, especially when she’s yours, obviously.

She used to tell me this story on one of my earlier birthdays about how before any of us are born we were all little angels scouring the planet looking at every possible set of prospective parents and once we find the right ones, we choose them as ours. And then she’d hug me and thank me so much for choosing her out of everyone else on the planet. And naturally, I, being probably 11 or 12 and moving into my angsty teen years would roll my eyes and think “What a load of hippie crap.”

Thinking about it now, she probably said it knowing I wouldn’t see the value in her story then. Knowing that I probably wouldn’t appreciate her enough then to see what she was actually trying to say. And I think even now I still don’t really get it. But what’s different now is that there is no question in my mind that out of every woman on this planet who was asking for a child around that time, there is no one else I would choose except her.

To get back to Women’s Day, or Women’s month as some companies like to brand it. I don’t think anyone has expressed our generation’s feelings towards being a woman more accurately than Doja Cat herself. You can simply read the lyrics to her song, the simple and aptly named “Woman” to see what I mean. There always seems to be a divide between what values society thinks are “womanly” and what values actual women think are so. But the emerging general consensus these days is that femininity comes in a very many forms and faces that transcend boundaries of sex, sexuality and gender. Divine feminine indeed.

I was lucky enough in this sense to have a mother who could teach me that before Doja could. Who located and nurtured the femininity in me even when I couldn’t. Who came from a place of more traditional values and was still open enough to accept my radical ones. Who taught me femininity in many forms, that it’s powerful, influential, multi-faceted and that it’s love.

Being a daughter has its own call for appreciation, not just because you’re carrying the torch passed down by all the generations of women before you but because coming into this world, choosing the mother that you had to take you on your path can be unexpected and can seem like its really out of your hands, but it makes you the woman you’ll become.

Jasmine is a third year student at the University of Cape Town, majoring in English and film studies. Writing and reading are her two greatest passions, next to geeking out about the newest Netflix series and listening to chill lo-fi beats.