I've been reflecting on the many times I was told I was unattractive. As in, people literally said it with their words. Once in a while to my face, but usually I overheard it. And it didn't stop with childhood.
We think kids do these hurtful things because "kids will be kids", but that's just not true. People do these things because sometimes people suck.
I remember my siblings telling me how fat I was. Repeatedly.
The kid in middle school who asked if I were pregnant, because my belly looked like a big pregnant belly.
The friend in high school who I overheard say I "could be" pretty if I just lost some weight and started wearing makeup.
The mom of one of my best friends who I overheard say I needed to put on some makeup and wear some pantyhose, then I wouldn't be so bad.
One of my good friends in high school who told me if she ever got to be a size 14, just shoot her. I was a 14/16 at the time.
The office manager at my first job out of college who told me I wasn't attractive enough, and I should consider fixing my hair and wearing full face makeup regularly.
The manager at my last job who sat me down after having my first born and told me I needed to work on my appearance, maybe dress nicer, fix my hair, and consider makeup.
And these are just the ones that stung bad enough that I still remember them.
My husband wonders why I don't see myself as attractive, why I never have, why I have a hard time believing him.
Maybe it's because repeatedly, over the course of my life, I was told over and over and over again exactly how unattractive I am. And not just by images on the media, heightened expectations, blah, blah, blah. People in my life actually said it.
And a lot more people said it and/or treated me that way than ever told me I was pretty. I was never the pretty one.
For 40 years.
You internalize that crap after a while.
It is also a big reason why I tell my girls constantly how beautiful they are. I call them "Beautiful" or "Pretty" as if it's a nickname. I tell them they have beautiful princess hair, the cutest noses in the world, and the most amazing eyes. I tell them they are gorgeous.
Yes, I also tell them how smart they are, and kind, and generous, and sweet, and thoughtful, and all of those things. But here's the thing:
One day, this world is going to tell them they are ugly, they are unattractive, they're too fat or too skinny or too muscular or not muscular.
Sure, maybe someone will tell them they're mean, or not nice. I doubt anyone will tell them they aren't smart. Sorry, but they're both brilliant, they just are. But I can just about guarantee that one of these days they will be beat down for their looks. And when that day comes, when those days come, I want them to have this voice in their heads that says "You are beautiful!". I want them to internalize my words in these young years so when they reach their older years, my voice will be louder than the world beating them down. I want them to have a voice telling them how gorgeous God made them. I want them to know it.
I also want to set an example.We compliment other people regularly. I make a point of it. I want to raise my girls to be the girls who compliment the other girls around them, not grow into one of those girls who beats someone else down, who tells girls how they "could be" enough one day.
Girls, you are enough. You are beautiful just as God made you. And I'm sorry for anyone who wasn't told that enough in their life.