I greeted two middle school girls at my youth group outing last Saturday:
"Hey, what's up guys?"
"Why are you sad?"
"Because I'm not pretty!"
"What in the world? That's totally untrue!"
"Well everyone talks about how [other person] is so hot, but nobody ever says anything about me! That means I'm not pretty!"
At this point I'm kind of dumbfounded: "Well, that's stupid! They need to quit! You are beautiful!"
When I heard this adorable pre-teen girl say "I'm not pretty", it broke my heart. Not just because it isn't true, but because she thinks it is very true. And because I recognized her sadness, her low self-esteem, and her longing for someone to tell her she was pretty. I've felt that many times before. How sad that she did not see and believe the truth, that she is beautiful and fun and talented and loved!
I had forgotten all about that conversation.
Until this afternoon when I was having lunch with a friend and I heard the words "I don't think I'm hot" come out of my mouth.
The scene from Saturday flooded back to me. I just did it too! Even as an adult, blissfully far removed from middle school, who has generally great self-esteem and is a passionate believer in the Body Positive Movement - I just said those words too!
I pondered this on my way back to work. Will I believe stupid lies about myself and how I think I compare to conventional beauty standards, and spread those lies? Or will I believe what my friends believe, which is that I am beautiful and fun and talented and loved? I texted my friend and took back my words from earlier.
Today, I made a resolution: I will not say those words any more. I cannot resolve to never think them, because we all have bad days and we all have bad thoughts. But when a bad thought comes up, instead of verbalizing it, I want to learn to say "No, that thought is not a true one or a kind one. I choose not to believe it. Instead, I choose to believe that I am perfect and beautiful and worthy exactly the way I am."
Kindness is contagious. And negativity is the same. I want to be an example to everyone in my life, whether they are in middle school or are middle aged, of a person who is kind to herself and happy in her skin.