I watched her get out of the vehicle as we jumped into ours. I had just shut my door and she was exiting the passenger side. What struck me first was that she had a gigantic sucker in her mouth. The way it was positioned was, honestly, not flattering. But, that was really my last thought.
It wasn’t long after and I heard Connor say something along the lines of, “She’s ugly.” I only say ‘along the lines of’ because he may have added an “Eww.” I can’t recall exactly because I only heard “ugly.”
I quickly gasped and responded that we don’t say that about people. At seven, I can’t expect him to have a filter. Well, I pray that at least in certain circumstances he does and I certainly don’t think he would have walked up to this woman and told her she was ugly. Lord, I hope he wouldn’t have.
I’m not sharing all of this because I think Connor did anything wrong or because I think he’s the first kid to ever say someone was ugly. I bring it up because it seems like in the last four or five days, the words ugly, fat, anorexic and obese have popped up in different channels of my life.
When do we get to that point where we would determine that someone is any of those things? It’s been boggling my mind for the past several days and I’m frankly too tired and busy with other schtuff to keep thinking about it. Regardless, I honestly just felt so sad when Connor said it. He’s only seven (almost eight … holy crap). (Un)fortunately, it was some of my mom friends discussing weight issues and our kiddos getting a sense of body image so I can only assume that it’s completely normal at this age. I just don’t like it.
I, quite honestly, always feared having a daughter because of my own body image issues and subsequent lack of self-esteem. I would never want her to realize how I hate looking in the mirror, especially now that I’m getting older with more creases and gray hairs (only five, I think, so far!), etc. and shaming myself into believing I’m not anything near what I should/could be. But, I should have felt the same about having a son. Because just as much as I wouldn’t want my daughter to feel like she was anything less than amazing, I don’t want my son to think that he is anything short of amazing (because I know boys can also struggle too), or that anyone else is either.
Let me also be clear in that I’m just as guilty as Connor. I’ve made comments about others’ appearance when they couldn’t hear me … but it’s not been anytime in the recent past because I’ve realized that as silly as someone might look exiting a vehicle with a goofy lollipop hanging out of their mouth that they may be one of the most beautiful individuals I could ever meet.
See, I’ve learned that being ugly, or conversely, beautiful, are not traits that are seen with our eyes. Of course, our world would have you believe differently. I mean, you can’t go to Meijer or Walgreen’s (or whatever) without seeing gorgeous celebrities in their Photoshopped glory on display. For those of us on team pink, it’s never easy. Most of the mags feature female cover models and their cellulite just doesn’t seem as … apparent … as mine. And their faces? Well, they may be older but they definitely aren’t wrinkly. And why don’t they have bags under their eyes? I know some of them have kids. On the opposite side, men (including my son) see these women and are conned into believing that’s the definition of what’s beautiful. If you’re tall, thin, have flowing hair, no wrinkles or acne or cellulite or Photoshop on your side, well then, in the words of Goldilocks, you’re “juuuust right.”
The problem is those women could be super duper ugly. And no, I’m not talking about the fact that they may actually have crow’s feet. You can’t see that, though … not from a picture anyway. It’s something you have to get to know a person to truly discover. I don’t know if Connor knew that woman better if he would still think she was ugly. Maybe she is. I absolutely realize that we’re going to make an initial judgment because it’s in our nature, but that doesn’t mean we should decide at that moment based on our perception, that what we’re seeing is reality. Just like you could see a person that weighs more than what society would deem “normal” and determine they were “fat” without knowing they just completed a half-marathon two weeks ago … that sounds more like “fit” to me. But again, appearances are only skin-deep.
The good news is that my son, the most important person in my world, tells me every time I’m in a t-shirt and sweats with my hair up and zero makeup on that he thinks I’m beautiful. He actually says he prefers me that way (God bless him). I can only imagine (and hope) that it’s because he knows me from the inside out, and not the other way around.
I’m going to step off from my soapbox now. Be kind to each other.