Dear Daughters & Women (& Men): when you want women to have the gift of acceptance & beauty & meaning

So, dear girl of ours, you are sixteen, going on 17 — 17 next week.

And I’ve been meaning to ask you: Do you ever feel it like a slow, dull ache, like a flash of fear and right in your veins — that you don’t belong?

Ever stand at the window and watch the rain turn into snow and know that there people who disapprove of you, who murmur about you, who don’t want much to do with you?

I’ve seen it in your eyes —

A sense of not belonging is the haunting of women.

I’ve seen how you look into the mirror sometimes — how you lean in a bit, and run your fingers through your hair again, how you wait — wondering and longing. 

It can make lining of a soul hurt, the wondering if you’re okay enough, the longing to be attractive enough, wanted enough, approved enough. 

Ask me how I know — how I’ve been the one leaning in, looking long in the light for the lines around the eyes, and there’s this moment you realize there’s a sadness in growing old —- because there’s a lie in this old world that there’s such a thing as too old. As if there could be too much of the wine of wisdom. As if there could be too much worn glory. 

As if.

The sense that beauty is in skin is the folly of men.

You told me about him. 

The week before you turn 17, you told me that that guy we’ve known from way back and forever, that guy who’s been waiting forever for the right woman to walk in the door, so he could throw up his phone, grab a selfie and claim her as his — that he finally did.

You showed me the picture of the two of them, that he’d found somebody after all these waiting and whiling away years. You didn’t have to ask me, but I could see it in your eyes:

Do you have to look like a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way, come across a certain way, to belong? To be approved of?

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And I sat you down, girl. 

Because that guy? He didn’t wait till he found a mate for his soul — he waited until he found a trophy for his mantle. 

Because some men — see women as skin to assess and possess and not as souls to affirm and reaffirm. 

Because this world needs to be done seeing people as physical packages to evaluate instead of spiritual companions to always value.

That guy who waded through life for years till he found his live, air-brushed Barbie? That guy pushed past a thousand extraordinary women because he couldn’t get himself to look past veneer exteriors.

And honest? Hear me, here:

The people who only look at people’s looks — should be gripped by the Fear Of Missing Out — because they are the ones missing out. 

You miss out on genuinely interesting people when you’re only interested in genuinely shallow facades.

You miss out on smart, strong, skilled, savvy people when you’re fixated on symmetrical people.

You miss out on the creatives and the thinkers and the dreamers, the makers and the shakers and the fence breakers, you miss out on all the poets and the prophets and the pioneers, the sages and the aged and the courageous, the arresting and the wrestling when you don’t want to miss out on mere window dressing. 

You miss out — when you miss the image of God in everybody when you’re looking for the image of Hollywood in anybody.

Nobody gets to steal the authority that determines the dignity of anybody.

God alone has the authority to determine your dignity, your acceptability, and your identity — don’t go giving that authority to anybody else  —-

or you let them give you your identity. 

You know what’s rare and beautiful? 

What’s beautiful is not objectifying women or exploiting women or belittling women but lifting women up.

What’s beautiful is women believing in women, women investing in women, what’s beautiful is sisters linking arms with sisters and believing in the inherent value and soul beauty of every single woman on the planet, because we all belong to each other.

What’s beautiful is dignifying the calling of each woman, what’s beautiful is not cheapening any woman’s work, any woman’s worth, any woman’s contribution. What’s beautiful is betting against Hollywood and conventional ideas of beauty and acceptance.

What’s beautiful is  is never being blinded by outward appearances, what’s beautiful is betting against fast fashion that uses and cheapens the 80% of garment workers worldwide who are women, what’s beautiful is not being blinded by the low prices of wearing anything beautiful but is made by the ugly exploitation of another woman, what’s beautiful is never being blinding by the staggeringly high sisterhood cost of appallingly cheap clothing.

What is beautiful is not mass-produced women, not mass-produced callings or or mass-produced clothing or mass-produced dreams. What is beautiful is handmade clothing and God made women, what is beautiful is women who know more than how to do their hair, but women know how to hard and holy things. What is beautiful is women who use their hands to help humanity up. 

You don’t have wear cheap, factory fast-fashion that cheapens you —- you can wear the art of fair-trade ethical handmade clothing that proclaims women are art.

You don’t have to consume poorly-made, disposable clothes — that send the message women are nothing more than poor, disposable labor.

You don’t have to look, think, act, talk or be like the mass-produced to belong to the sisterhood in massively significant ways.

You can chose a slow, handmade wayyou can chose an indie way, you can chose a way of beauty that says fair treatment, fair trade, fair dignity for every woman matters.

You can invest in far less fast-thread cheap clothes and invest in only a few pieces of well-made, handmade, slow art   — and become more. 

You can be a Beauty Minimalist — who believes that a few beautiful handmade pieces of clothing is better than a closet full of clothes made by enslaved children’s hands.

A Beauty Minimalist who believes that being a minimalist with make-up is one way to be more — because it’s a subversive way to state that one’s soul is enough.

A Beauty Minimalist who believes that being a minimalist with clothes purchases and shopping wiser and with more intention is how you minimize the exploitation of women and maximize the empowerment of our sisters. 

A Beauty Minimalist who believes that you can take remnants of dreams and remnants of goals and remnants of scraps and you can make more than enough hope and redemption and courage and beauty and maybe even a lovely, one-of-a-kind skirt.  


A Beauty Minimalist believes less of the stereotypical is how to maximize more beauty.

Sometimes I catch myself looking over at you and wanting to know how —-

How do you give the gift of emancipation to a girl who’s 16 going on 17 — how do you give the gift of freedom to be and belong to every 20 year-old finding her own brave way, to every 30 year-old figuring it out, to every 40 year-old who questions whether she’s accepted and enough and still wanted, to every 50 year-old who has to hear how beautiful she is, to every 60 year-old who needs to know that she’s become gold?

How do you give every woman the gift of having no fear of missing out? How do you give the gift of having no fear of missing out on being accepted or sufficient or enough or beautiful?

How do you give the perfect gift of meaning? 

And I wonder what if all us women can do for each other is to give each other the best stories? 

Women need to tell each other the best stories of who we were made to be and how the looks of your face and the works of your hands don’t make you worthy like the openness of your heart.

Women need to tell each other the best stories of how beauty isn’t a function of your cheek bones but fire in your bones.

Stories of how you are approved not because you’ve proved anything, but because Love Himself did everything, so you don’t have prove anything to nobody, how the only people who should have fear of missing out —- are those who leave other people out.

Women need to carry the best stories about each other, need to wear the stories of other women:

 the story of how a refugee from Pakistan embroidered the threads of our shirt,

the story of how a woman in India threaded the beads on this necklace,

the story of how at-risk women in Cambodia made this skirt out of repurposed remnant jersey.

… all threads by Raven + Lily

This is what the world wants to give all the whatever- teen year olds on the cusp of turning however old and us becoming all becoming women:

Live storied lives.  Live storied lives of meaning, that give meaning, that making meaning, that have meaning. Live in homes full of stories and wear clothes made with meaning and see the world through meaningful story and live a good news story. 

A sense of not belonging is the haunting of women — and a sense of Story gathers women into the assurance of  belonging.

The story that you come from a long line of redeemed women, of weak-made-strong women, of God-made-holy-and-soul-beautiful women, that you are part of a bigger story and it’s the story that He’s writing into your days that’s making you brave and beautiful and your life meaningful.

Hear it louder than the lies in your head, louder than the insecurities spawned by Instagram, louder than the headlines on the news cycles: Stay in the Story. 

No matter what’s happening in the world — Stay in His Story. Let His narrative be the narrative of your life.

The person who  gets her principles from the Word — doesn’t crave approving words from the world. 

The woman who is steadfastly held by her worth in God — isn’t standing around starved for beholders.  

You only depend on the opinions of anybody, or wait for the applause of somebody, when you aren’t listening to the Word of SomeOne.

When you’re happy in timeless things, you stop being a beggar for admiration in earthly things.

That’s all, girl — you belong here.

When I came up through the woods, up through the orchard, up through the greying twilight the other night, and saw you by the flickering lights of the tree there in the window, I could feel it —

how you belong, rooted like a tree that will make the pages of a good story, rooted like a tree that will make the wide planks of a table long enough for every woman to come.


Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 2.36.49 PMGrateful to be partnering with the entirely handmade, wholly fair-trade collective of global sisters at Raven + Lily.
Raven + Lily was created to alleviate poverty among women. Raven + Lily currently helps employ over 1,500 marginalized women at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education, and a real chance to to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.
Raven + Lily is committed to providing products that are made by hand, follow fair trade standards, and honor our eco-friendly commitment — & are offering our beautiful community 15% off from now till the end of the year with the code VOSKAMP.
I’m personally committed to Raven + Lily & being a Beauty Minimalist, having far less exploitive threads in my closet & being part of investing in the freedom of women, in investing in handmade & in being part of giving all women the gift of the Best Stories about themselves & the world