Within the past week I have noticed a trend among women.
We tend to put ourselves down constantly.
I was speaking with one woman – a gorgeous woman, mind you – and she made a critical comment about her weight.
The first time I met her, I did not see any flaws with her weight at all.
I saw her beautiful smile and her warm, empathetic personality.
There were no thoughts about her weight, least of all any negative thoughts.
I was shocked to hear it was something she felt self-conscious about.
Later the same day, another woman commented on her weight.
Again, I was shocked.
She was just as beautiful as the other women and I had always thought she looked so chic and envied her style.
Never would I have found anything critical about her.
It hit me though, that’s what we do.
We pick ourselves apart over the tiniest little thing.
We worry about our weight; we criticize the lines around our eyes.
We can’t take a compliment or say anything about ourselves unless we frame it in a disparaging comment.
Somehow, a large percentage of our population have falsely been made to believe we are too fat or not pretty enough to be worthy of love or happiness.
“Was it just our generation?” I wondered.
Mama has always been critical of her appearance, worrying about her weight and other things that have always seemed silly.
To me, Mama was the most gorgeous human ever with her long auburn hair and grey-green eyes.
Hearing her say negative things about herself made me wonder how the world viewed me as a chubby kid.
Did Mama hear Granny putting herself down?
Was that where it started?
Granny never thought of herself as pretty. She said that once and Mama and I both disagreed with her.
When she was younger, she favored Geena Davis in A League of Their Own.
Like Geena Davis, she was tall and thin, and Granny would be the first to tell you she didn’t have a very feminine or graceful walk. Her gait was made for keeping up with her even taller brothers when working in the fields as a child.
She towered over my grandfather, too.
Well, towered may not be an accurate word, but when she wore her heels she did, and she usually wore heels.
“Does Pop ever feel weird that you are taller than him?” I asked her once.
She snorted. “No.”
“Some men may not want their wives to be taller than them,” my naïve younger self observed.
Granny shrugged. “Your granddaddy knew how tall I was when I met him and I was wearing heels then. I can’t help how tall I am.”
“So, he didn’t care?”
“No,” she repeated.
“Did he ever ask you to stop wearing heels?”
She replied with another negative.
“Pop doesn’t care how tall I am. I don’t either. The only thing that ever bothered me was that I was too skinny. His mother made fun of me because of it,” Granny said, a frown growing on her face. “I tried all my life to gain weight. I couldn’t keep weight on. I’d drink milkshakes every day and I still couldn’t gain an ounce. When I finally did gain some weight, I was so happy.”
The notion of being happy at gaining weight was odd to me. But, to my grandmother it meant she wasn’t being ridiculed for being so thin anymore.
“Did Pop ever make you feel bad about being too skinny?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No, and that’s why I was able to brush off what his mama said. He made me feel like I was beautiful, at least to him. Even though I looked like a skeleton in a skin suit.”
She smiled softly as a memory fleeted across her mind.
“No, your grandfather always made me feel like I was the prettiest woman ever born, even though I know differently,” she said.
Had you ever met my grandmother you would have never known she had an area of her life where she had felt anything other than superior. She carried herself in such a way that she exuded confidence. Yet, here she was, telling me she had always felt less than because she had been skinny.
We can look at someone and only see one aspect of them, one part of the story; the part they want us to see.
What we don’t see is those areas and inner spaces where they feel bad about themselves or the parts where they have low self-esteem.
Maybe if we did, we’d be a bit gentler, nicer even.
And wouldn’t it be something if we could see ourselves through the same lens others see us? Those that love us, think we are wonderful, beautiful, amazing.
Wouldn’t it be so affirming and life changing to be able to have that kind of confidence.
Maybe that’s the key to feeling that way though, as my grandmother explained.
Just being with those that see the beauty in the things we think are our flaws.