Friday, September 25, 2009

Treading in the Shallow End

Yesterday, Gillian and I were laughing about the game show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” I was explaining to Ben that we watched it the other day, and that I got one of the questions very, very wrong and how silly I felt because I should have known the answer. Gillie started stammering over her words and told me that she wanted to tell me something, but that she didn’t want to say it in public. I pointed out that we were in the car, so the public wasn’t going to hear her. That it was just us, her family, and that if she wanted, she could share whatever she wanted.

She said that it was ok with her if I went on that show, that I was probably smarter than a 5th grader, but that I should wait until I wasn’t F-A-T anymore.

Yeah, she spelled it out.

Ben laughed nervously. My jaw dropped, and I actually felt a little bad. Ben tried hard – HARD - to fix things. “Your mom is beautiful. She isn’t fat. Gillian, that was a very rude thing to say. In private or in public.”

“But dad, it’s the truth. And you always want me to tell the truth. Right?”

Sure, I felt a little bad that I am overweight and not as healthy as I need to be. But what really made me sad was that she felt like I would be embarrassing myself if I went on television in the state that I am now. That people who look like me SHOULD be embarrassed, or even that SHE would be embarrassed BY me.

She’s a very pretty girl. Her hair makes her unique, and everywhere she’s ever gone, people have commented about how wonderful and special she is because of her looks. I’ve had perfect strangers come up to me at grocery stores and tell me that I am selfish for not sharing her beauty with the world through movies or commercials or modeling. But my reason for not signing her up to be eyeballed by the whole world is because I don’t want her looks becoming the only noticed, celebrated thing about her. I don’t want her believing that her beauty is the only thing of value about her. I have always told her that she’s beautiful, of course. But I’ve also always tried to show her how special she is because she’s smart, and likes lions, and is drawn to science, and is kind and compassionate and friendly. She lights up a room when she walks in because she makes people happy. She has an infectious laugh and will befriend everyone she comes into contact with. She likes everyone and doesn’t ever stick to a particular type of person to befriend. When I say she likes everyone, I mean EVERYONE. And those things should be celebrated too. But often, her dad and I are the only ones she hears that from.

Which makes me sad. Sad for her. Sad for all kiddos like her. Sure, I could be working harder to get this extra weight off. Sure, it would be better for me and for my whole family if I were healthier. But honestly, I don’t let my looks define me anymore. I sure used to, and I did some really unhealthy things in the past to try to fit into the heroin chic mold that they were forcing down our throats when I was young. And I’m going to be totally supportive of Gillian wanting to remain healthy. I just worry about her becoming obsessed with the way she looks instead of the more important parts of her.

I want her to celebrate the fact that she is a child of God, wonderfully and fearfully made, and that God doesn’t really place value on how she looks. But that He wants her to take care of this body He has blessed her with and focus on how she can use her gifts to help others and glorify Him!

What a backyards world we live in! Help us, Jesus!

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