by Joanie Butman
Last week I gave a talk in which I described my inauspicious arrival in what seemed eerily familiar to the town in the movie The Stepford Wives. No joke; I later learned they actually filmed the movie here. My comment was, “How does a brunette from Brooklyn end up in a town full of skinny blondes? I felt like Dorothy in Oz.” I still do some days despite the fact that many of those skinny blondes became close friends. I was secretly hoping they’d get larger over the years, but they just get more beautiful the better I get to know them; and it has nothing to do with their appearance, which hasn’t changed much in fifteen years! Even the man checking out my groceries lamented one day, “Why does no one age in this town? I feel like I’m the only one getting older.” I had just found a new friend – and a fellow brunette!
My comment brought to mind an issue that caught me by surprise when my daughter was young – really young, probably five or six. To my horror, I noticed her standing in front of the mirror pulling at her hair reciting, “I hate you. You are so ugly.” I was shocked because, as her mother, I thought she was the most adorable thing, and she oozed personality. Plus, no one mentioned anything like this in all those parenting books I’d read which, in hindsight, did little to prepare me for the realities of parenting. This wasn’t a passing moment either. It continued for quite some time.
After much discussion, I concluded that the Disney movies I thought were harmless were anything but. My little girl was comparing herself to the skinny, blonde princesses in those movies and finding herself lacking. Dang – I didn’t realize there was a gene for that. She was doing exactly what I did standing in the middle of my new town at the age of 40!
Those Disney movies, which I quickly tossed in the garbage, cost me a fortune in heartache and tears. It didn’t stop there though. There isn’t a teenage girl (or adult woman for that matter) that hasn’t been haunted at some point by the false perfection and standard of beauty with which the media bombards us. Just as my daughter did at an early age, and I still do to some extent, it is difficult not to compare yourself and find yourself lacking – which is why it is so important to choose what you focus on when staring at your own reflection.
I Like Me by Nancy Carlson is a favorite book I read to my daughter at that time. I chose it for the simplicity of its message and because the spunky swine protagonist is the polar opposite of those Disney characters. The book imparts a timeless “Love Thyself” message that so many of us need to be reminded of daily. The author’s choice of a pig heroine couldn’t be more appropriate as pigs are admittedly not one of God’s most beautiful creations though I know many who would agree that bacon is one of His most tasty.
A healthy self-image has been a recurring theme lately in many of my devotionals. In fact, the question in Bible Study this week that instigated the most lively discussion was, “How do you view yourself? Through your own critical eyes, through the eyes of others or through the eyes of God?” In other words, when you look in the mirror, do you see a pig, your best friend, or a beloved child of God? Do you greet yourself with disdain or like Nancy Carlson’s ebullient pig, “Hi, good-looking!” That irresistible pig illustrates my firm belief that there is nothing more attractive than someone who is comfortable in their own skin. Radiant with self-confidence, the perky pig ends the book with this statement, “No matter where I go, or what I do, I’ll always be me, and I like that!!!” Gotta love her.
When you choose to view yourself through God’s eyes, you can’t help but be attracted to His love reflecting back at you. Focusing on that love is the source of whatever confidence I have, whatever good I’ve ever done, and whatever beauty I possess inside or out. Rick Warren points out, “The more we’re conscious of God’s love, the less self-conscious we become about ourselves.”
My friend cited a recent tweet that states, "10% of all the people you meet in life won’t like you." What a relief. I’d always thought it was closer to 50%. Her point was, “So why do so many people choose to focus on the 10%?” Excellent question, which I couldn’t answer because personally, I choose to focus on the one who loves me unconditionally, making everyone else’s opinion a moot issue.
Lastly, she pointed out that when you choose to belittle yourself, you are insulting your creator and those who love you. The first doesn’t make mistakes, and the second group can’t all be poor judges of character. Never thought of it like that.
Great song about this topic ironically sung by a thin, beautiful blonde – go figure.