Have you noticed that children are born with a natural confidence? They don’t care what their hair looks like, if their outfit matches, or if their belly hangs over their pants.
Then slowly over time it changes. Not by the child’s doing, but by the people around them. Most of the time it’s ever so innocent, ever so slight. A comment meant as a joke, a comparison between siblings, or whispers from friends just out of arm’s reach. Even a sincere grandmother’s comment about the second helping of mashed potatoes you just took…
Words are like darts.
I was around eight when I realized I had “monkey ears.”
My older sister was double my age, her boyfriend at the time thought it was funny, “LOOK AT HER EARS!!” It was easy to make fun of a little girl who was born with ears that protruded from her head.
What would happen if you put Shannon’s head out of a moving vehicle? was a joke I often heard him tell.
Do you want to hear the punchline?
Her ears would beat her to death! and the laughter roared.
I grew more and more self-conscious.
Do they flap? Like Dumbo’s!
I started to hide behind my hair. It was never up and it was never wet, in public.
Swimming lessons were torturous. Giggles from those along the wall.
My parents didn’t know how much damage had been done until I was 13. They wanted me to get baptized (submersion style) at our church but I refused. For no other reason than I didn’t want anyone to see my ears.
Looking back at the photos, they really didn’t look that big! Not as big as others teased me for.
It’s from the words others speak over us that we begin to believe we are average.
At some point we have to take responsibility for the words we choose to use. As a society, we have to realize that our words hold power. The old saying goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” but it is a painful lie.
I prefer the proverb, which says,
“Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.”
At some point we have to realize that those words spoken over us, albeit they sting, they don’t reflect who we really are. As much as I believe words are powerful, I also believe we have to choose to not let them hold us captive.
Dove is doing another amazing, tear-jerking, heart-wrenching, make-you-think, campaign. It’s called #ChooseBeautiful” and I’m proud to be a part of it.
If two doors stood before you, one said “Beautiful” and the other “Average, which door would you choose?
|Dec 2013 (she bends down to hug me)|
This post is dedicated to my niece.
The reason I am so passionate about this campaign and about changing how we talk to one another, is partial because of the pain I experienced as a child but more recently — and it always hurts more when someone else you love goes through it — last week my 14 year old niece, who is 6 feet tall and doesn’t look anything close to her age, was at a concert with her older sister and their friends when she started having an anxiety attack. She went to the back of the Colosseum to get away from the crowds and to stand by the security guards where she’d feel safe. She was taken to the first-aid room, the lady in charge (who thought my niece had done something wrong) made a comment which could have life-long lasting consequences. She said, “Thank you for the proof that you don’t have to be old to have cellulite.”
And we wonder why our teens and then our women have low self esteem!
My darling niece, you are one of the MOST beautiful people I know. Don’t let people put words into your head. You ARE beautiful. Now it’s up to you to #ChooseBeautiful.