Last week a good friend of mine, the author of The Adventures of Samuel, wrote a new post entitled “Chuckling with Children”. He told of his week working with his church’s annual VBS, giving an account of several comical anecdotes of his time with the children. Let’s admit it: kids say the darndest things. The largest percentage of my time spent doing one thing, is spent working with young children. I love it, especially during moments when they say or do something that would fall into the category of “the darndest things”.
However this week, I was horrified at what came from the mouth of a student. No, it wasn’t a curse word, those don’t frighten, nor surprise, me. It wasn’t even a child telling of something shocking that their parents did. We had just finished getting wiggles out before our Learning Circle, and one of my girls said, “My legs are ugly.”
Her Legs Are Ugly?!?!
What preschooler thinks that way? I mean, we kinda expect teenagers to say things like that, young women, older women. I’ll be honest, I enjoy being female, wouldn’t want to trade genders for the world. But women as a whole, at least as I’ve noticed in our U.S. culture, are terrible self-critics. There is a constant degrading of something about our own physical body.
I’m sick of it. I can’t stand it. This is something that I can honestly say that I abhor. Maybe because it takes my mind back to my most insecure years.
I love doing missions, serving others, loving on children. Not just telling kids of God’s love but showing it to them because you don’t care that they haven’t bathed or brushed their hair/teeth recently, you hug on them and let them sit in your lap anyway. But I have to say my 10 weeks serving as a “Critter” with Mission Centers of Houston was not one of my best experiences, and it had nothing to do with the work we did or the people we served. It more or less boiled down to the 15 high school and college girls I shared a bedroom with. It was like the bedroom from Madeline, beds lining both walls, everyone sharing two bathrooms. What made it so difficult for this 200+ pound, recent high school grad was listening to much thinner girls saying “I’m fat”, “My face is too round”, “I hate my butt”, “Oh look at my bat wings”. Hearing these young women, who to my eye were much more beautiful than my fat self, berate their own body, my thoughts remained along the lines of, “Heaven knows what they think of me” the entire summer.
And I’m sure they never even considered the damage of their words, the effects it could and would have on others around them. Which leads me back to my beautiful, bright-eyed 5yr-old who said,
“My legs are ugly.”
This is not something a child just decides on her own. It is conditioned, and I highly doubt someone told her, “Those bug bites make your legs ugly.” No more likely a mom, grandma, or aunt made a thoughtless comment about the status of her own legs, something maybe along the lines of “Ugh, I hate these veins; they make my legs so ugly.” And my student’s mind connected the imperfections in the other persons legs to the blemishes on her own and equivalated that her own legs must be ugly as well.
Maybe this is just a continuation or rant of In the Pursuit of Happiness, but whereas that post was more or less geared towards changing our own thinking about our appearance, which is extremely important for our own well-being, we have got to start watching what we say out loud. Others are listening. We never know what the person across the room, who is well within hearing distance, is struggling with, and when we make careless comments, such as “I’m so fat, I wish I could lose fifteen pounds,” you may not only be publicising your own poor self-image but also inlfuencing another’s.
Please make an effort to encourage and uplift one another, and also to encourage yourself.
And please know that You are BEAUTIFUL!!