Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Sixth grade. I remember it well. (But maybe not so fondly.)

I was five feet, five inches tall (taller than my petite--shoe size 5.5--mama), wore a 7.5 size shoe, weighed 130 pounds, wore a size 9 in juniors, had pink glasses and permed hair. I towered above almost all the boys and most of the girls, and all my mom's friends would comment on my size.

My goodness, look how big you're getting!

Wow, you're taller than your mom!

Look at you, how big you've gotten over the summer!

It was true. I'd always been bigger than my friends, taller and more...sturdy than the little girls I went to school with. So the fact that I grew to the size of an adult in a matter of 10 weeks, and people always commented on it, did not help my self-confidence.

Yup, that's me!

And then {drama}--a boy called me ugly. Ugly! And I believed him. (Greg McGarry, if you're out there somewhere, just know that you are still on notice for that.)

Nobody puts Baby in a corner. Or me, either. So I set out on my own personal vendetta to prove him (and myself) W-R-O-N-G. I already felt less than because I wasn't little. Or particularly stunning. And I wanted to be those things. Like really, really bad. So I learned about skin care and makeup techniques, scoured fashion magazines for the latest trend, watched runway shows on E! and took approximately 3.5 hours to get ready--to go anywhere (leading to a devastating trend of arriving late to school, which my teachers--Mrs. Haddad in particular--took exception to, which lead to a career in detention that I cannot say I am proud of).

I used to ask my mom if there was a way to cut my legs to make me shorter. Little. More petite. Because I felt huge.

I've tried in a gentle, not-so-direct way tell others not to compare or comment on my daughter's size, whether that be the size of her feet, her height, or her clothes, because I know how it feels. Try not to comment on how she's taller than ________ or bigger than _______. And I've told her over and over again how much I grew the summer before sixth grade, all in an effort to try and shield her from, and maybe prepare her for, what I know might be an issue for her. We've talked about confidence and inner beauty and all the things I didn't feel like I had a handle on in middle school, with the hopes that she would get what I didn't.

So when she let out a dejected sigh and wished out loud that she was shorter, a little part of my insides caved in and cried.

"I hate being tall, and I hate being big, and I hate it when people comment on it. I wish I was shorter."

The same cry of my own heart, 20-some years later.

I was watching the intro to the USA reality TV show Chrisley Knows Best, and apparently two of the kids had gone out and spent $200+ dollars at a deli (???), and dad was understandably angry. But he looked at them and said "I have created these two monsters sitting in front of me today."

And I know, in my heart of hearts, that I must take some of the blame for creating what my daughter has become. It would be foolish to sit back and think that my own inner struggle with confidence and beauty doesn't have an impact on her, as it would also be stupid to assume that she doesn't notice when I'm in the middle of a fierce battle against...well, myself.

I would sit and compare myself to Cosmo or Seventeen and falsely conclude that if I could look like that, then I would be happy with myself. I would no longer believe Greg McGarry or anybody else. If I was beautiful and thin, then I could be happy. But then thin became not thin enough, and beautiful became not beautiful enough, and I struggled to find any security or happiness in the constantly evolving world of weight and appearance.

Sometimes I think I should remove every single mirror from my house so that I won't be so tempted to look and judge myself. Sometimes I think that I should gather up my family and move to a remote part of the world, where the issues that I face today, like what my kids see on Instagram (Nicki Minaj + bad teacher Halloween costume = bad news) and the constant influx of this narrow definition of beauty, wouldn't be so hard to deal with. But since neither of those are really viable options, especially for a girl who sees a mirror as a piece of art to decorate with as much as anything else, it stands to reason that changing my perspective on the importance of beauty as well as my source of happiness would be a good thing.

I've seen the influence I can have on my daughter--negative and positive. And when it comes to showing her that beauty comes from the inside, no matter what the number on the scale may be, well, that's an attitude I have to model for her. To show her that confidence comes from knowing who you are in Christ, that beauty comes from letting the Holy Spirit shine through you, that security comes from standing on the solid foundation of Christ, because everything else is like shifting sand.

I don't want her to go through life battling the same issues I have, for sure. Just living on this planet is enough of a battle in and of itself. And I can't go back and undo what I've already done. But I can change my perspective so that we can begin walking a new path.

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