I have an 8-year-old, African American daughter. I constantly say to her, “You’re my only daughter.” When she hears this she beams from ear to ear, because she can hear the uniqueness of that statement. She has two older brothers but they cannot hear that phrase because there are two of them. She knows she is special because she is my only daughter.
Uniqueness is a theme in Jazmyn Simon’s book, Most Perfect You. The book centers around a young girl named Irie who is frustrated with her hair. Unfortunately, she is comparing her hair to other girls around her. Her mother then begins to tell Irie about how she had a conversation with God about having a child that possessed all of the things Momma wanted in a child. She goes on to describe all the features that Irie has, from her skin to her eyes, hair, freckles, and heart. I love how Momma does not just focus on physical features. She tells Irie that ultimately she is not like everyone else but that she is the most perfect her that she can be—just as she is. Simon does a wonderful job of using imagination to reinforce the intrinsic beauty that God has bestowed on her daughter. The undertones of Psalm 139:14 ring here (“I thank God because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”). I pray I am conveying the same message to my daughter.
This book is a wonderful encouragement for girls of color who are pressured by majority society to conform to its subjective standards of beauty. It is for any daughter to understand that she can be the most perfect her, and to find contentment there. My daughter loved this book, because like Irie in the book she feels the pressure to find beauty and value outside herself, when God has given her value inside herself because he made her. He confers value on every child who bears his image. When any daughter understands she is not called to be like everyone else, but to embrace her most perfect self, she will gain wholeness and healing. I highly recommend this book to heal the self-esteem of young girls, and to remind them that it’s OK to be uniquely, perfectly themselves, just as God made them. (Random House Books for Young Readers)