I sat at the picnic table, in the shade of the shelter, pretending to read my book while I was *really* eavesdropping on the four very large ladies a couple of tables over who were planning their upcoming Weekend at the Lake.
Lady 1: “It’s going to be warm, make sure you bring your swimsuits. We can pull out the floats.”
Lady 2: “Oh, I NEVER wear a swimsuit. I’m too fat!”
Lady 3: “I don’t even OWN a swimsuit. I don’t even get in the water.”
Lady 4: “I don’t think I’ve ever owned a swimsuit. I’ve always been too fat to swim.”
Lady 1: “Oh, ok. We’ll do something else instead.”
I was appalled and sad for these ladies. I was mad at them, too. Why? Because they were letting their weight and their poor self-image rob them of what could have been a really great time.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m the FIRST person to tell you that I’ve had my share of self-image ‘issues’. I am constantly at war with my alter-ego, Alice (yes, I’ve even named her). She looks a lot like the character that Charlize Theron played in “Monster”, and she is constantly second-guessing every positive thought that I have. It’s a daily battle for me, and one that, for a while, I waged on a moment-to-moment basis. That was a very dark time for me, indeed, and I often have to pull myself back from going there again.
That’s why I was so angry with these women. Even the first one, who, instead of confronting her friends, simply allowed their negative attitudes to stand, unchallenged.
What should she have said? How about, “What are you talking about? Swimming is fun. It’s only going to be us there, and we’re going there to have a good time. If you don’t have suits, bring shorts and a shirt to wear. And don’t worry about what you look like, because I think you’re all beautiful.”
Yes, you laugh. But think about it honestly… these were large women. Very large women. When was the last time that ANYONE told them they were beautiful, and meant it?
Now think about yourself. When was the last time anyone told YOU that you were beautiful (or handsome)? And here’s the one for all the points….
When was the last time that YOU – honestly and without any reservations or caveats or “except fors”, meaning every syllable – told yourself that YOU are beautiful (or handsome)?
It’s a powerful thing, telling someone what they so desperately want and need to hear, but what, at the same time, is so pathetically un-PC. Society doesn’t want us “regular people” to think we’re attractive – we might quit worshipping the Jennifer Anistons and Angelina Jolies and Brad Pitts of the world, and start appreciating our OWN talents for a change. The magazines, movies and television have a vested interest in keeping our self-image as low as it can possibly be, so their bottom line is as high as it can possibly be.
And you know what? Sadly, it’s working. Very well. Statistics for eating disorders show that girls as young as 8 are not only dieting, they’re showing signs – already! – of eating disorders. Lately, everywhere you turn, you hear that Americans are fat! Lazy! Ugly!
Is it true? Or is it a marketing ploy? Either way, it’s crushing us. And there’s only one way to combat it. Intimate warfare.
Try it. Try it today. Tell someone else that they’re beautiful… AND MEAN IT. Tell your husband, your wife, your kids. Tell that grumpy lady in the gas station, and see what happens. Bet she smiles. Bet YOU smile.
And now, here’s the hard part. (you thought telling those folks was hard?) Look at yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself that you’re gorgeous. And MEAN it. Because we’re not just talking about physical beauty anymore. We’re talking about YOU – inside and out. Top to bottom. Your hair that never does what you want it to do. Your beer belly. Your mom’s nose and your dad’s ears. Your quirky sense of humor, your quick wit, your eyes that are so embarrassingly quick to tear up. Yeah? Got those? Good – they’re all a part of you. And every single one of them is beautiful. Go tell yourself that. Right now.
I just wish I could go back and tell it to those ladies at that picnic table. Because you know what? They were all beautiful – they just didn’t know it, because they believed the hype.
This post was inspired by The Society Series and by Operation Beautiful. And by me, because that stuff really did happen. And for the record, I’ve tied Alice up and shoved her in the corner with her mouth duct-taped shut. She’s not very happy, but she’s silent.