As a little girl, I heard the words, "you're so pretty" many times from many people. I spent a lot of time looking in the mirror at myself thinking I was so cute. Receiving approval and attention from others because of the way I looked became the measure of how I felt about myself.
When I was in 6th grade, I was chosen to be a part of a local TV game show for kids called, "Heads Up". I wasn't chosen because I was good at math, like my friends, Margaret and Huang. I wasn't chosen for the spelling competition either. I was chosen as the pretty girl that would hand out the prizes to the winners and read the jokes on the teleprompter before the commercial break. At the time, I loved it and was super excited to do it. But when I look back as an adult, I have to wonder what would have happened if I'd received more attention for my academics instead of my pretty face.
When I became a tween, the attention changed from "You're so pretty" to "Girl, you so fine". I blossomed early and the attention was less about my pretty smile and more about my curves. I didn't really see my curves as beautiful, instead, I felt like they just made others have nasty thoughts about me. I actually took the blame for the catcalls! My middle school mind thought, if I wasn't so curvy, they'd stop looking. So, I tried to keep my curves from showing (not much can really be done about them, though LOL) In my teenage years, I became a little more comfortable with my body, but I was still self-conscious. Once I got into young adulthood, and into the college scene, I began to realize that my"pretty" was all that some people seemed to want to recognize about me.
So now I've spent most of my adult life working to prove to everyone that I'm more than pretty, I'm more than my curves. Perhaps that is the reason for the "busy bee syndrome".
Isn't it interesting that what others say about us women, whether negative or positive, can easily modify how we feel about ourselves and how we see ourselves in the mirror? It can even affect the way we look at other women!
I am currently reading, More Than Pretty by Erica Campbell for a book club. In it, she shares her story with the word pretty and how the words of others affected her self-esteem at certain times in her life. When I found out that we would be reading this book, I immediately thought about Erica's white dress controversy. Perhaps you remember when all the “church women” ganged up on her for wearing a very "form-fitting" dress in a photo shoot that went viral. Everybody had something to say about how she looked because “her curves are accentuated way too much”, and "that dress will distract people from seeing God". I'll admit, I was one of those people. To me, the dress was way too tight. It wasn't a choice that I would have made as a gospel artist.
When I found out we were going to be reading her book for the book club, I wasn't really happy about it because I felt like her dress as well as her reality TV show were all ways for Erica and her sister Tina to draw attention to themselves instead of to God. In my mind, Christian women shouldn't draw attention to the way they look on the outside. I stopped listening to her music, stopped appreciating her as a child of God, and failed to see that she was and is more than pretty. I somehow managed to project the feelings I had growing up onto Erica. In other words, I was stuck on the idea that she should cover up her curves so that no one would notice because that's what I did. Now, as I read through her book, I realize that I judged her unfairly.
Look, I am not saying that I agree with the tight dress, I still think that she would have been just as beautiful in something that didn’t hug her so tightly. What I am saying is that I shouldn’t have decided I was done with Erica because of it. People are more than a snapshot, more than a moment in time, more than what they wear, more than what the camera records... more than pretty. And as it turns out, Erica is much more than a tight white dress.