This past weekend I had the opportunity to re-connect with a group of friends from home. Some I had kept in contact with, others I hadn’t laid eyes on in almost 10 years. Moments like those are rare. I’m so glad we took the time to hangout and catch up. Life is dramatically different now for all of us. Most of us are married or in serious relationships now. Several of us even have children on the way. The entire evening was great! During the night, we took out a box of old photos and passed them around. It was fun to relive fun moments and to make fun of ourselves as the years progressed picture by picture. As I looked through the box full of memories that traced back as far as middle school, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why did NOBODY tell me!?” The hair, the clothing, everything… WHY? So today I’d like to issue an apology to the Amanda that existed from 1997-2002, and tell her what someone…ANYONE… should have said no matter how bad it may have hurt.
#1: Why didn’t anyone tell me to PUT DOWN THE MAKE-UP BAG?! I was so sad to see that I didn’t take the time to learn what make-up was really all about for a LONG time. Sure, my mom gave me the whole “Make-up is just to enhance what God gave you” speech, but apparently it didn’t sink in for a while. My whole face was covered in foundation that was too thick and didn’t match my skin at all. I was in 7th grade! Why did I even think I needed full foundation? Why didn’t I pick a color that matched, and – most importantly — where did my eyes go? The only thing that could distract you from my ghostly face was the THICK BLACK EYELINER holding my poor eyeball hostage. Me with Dad, circa 2001. EEESH!I don’t know what gets into us. I feel like every girl I know can relate to the eyeliner thing, but something inside us tells us that the only way to make our eyes to stand out is to cover them in goopy, black pencil. WRONG! SO wrong. The icing on the cake was my love of 12 layers of mascara that make my lashes stick together to create perfectly formed spider legs, and my lack of appreciation for bronzer or blush. For multiple years I rocked the “mask” face as I like to call it. It was a perfect white canvas with two black holes where eyes should be. TRAGIC.
#2. Why didn’t somebody teach me that it’s okay not to wear a size 3 (and to NOT try to anyway)?!Surely most of us can recall a time where we felt like we didn’t fit in. For me that was most of my growing years, because I literally didn’t fit! I started the 6th grade at 5ish feet tall and a size 16 in little girls, and by the end of 8th grade, I was already almost 6ft tall and in a size 11 in juniors. Throughout those three years my height and girth fought a battle against each other, and I would go from wide to long, wide to long, fluctuating in size the entire time. I’m pretty sure I NEVER saw a size 3. EVER. I jumped right past it. I remember crying when I had to buy my first size 11 pants. (Keep in mind I was almost 6 feet tall, and had I worn a size 3 like I wanted, something would have been really wrong with me) I hated changing out in gym class because I was afraid the other girls would see the number on my tag and make fun of me. I felt fat, and weird, and really left out. It took me a long time to understand that the number or size on a tag can’t define what normal is. The best way to feel good about your body is to dress it in what is most flattering. Sometimes that means accepting that there are certain trends that “everyone else” is wearing that just aren’t going to look good on you. It means quit squeezing into those jeans that are two sizes too small and give you “muffin top” just because that’s the size everyone else is wearing. Trust me, trends go by quickly. And the sooner you learn to dress your body in what fits and looks appropriate on you, the easier it will be to figure out how to incorporate “trendy” ideas into your specific wardrobe. So, to Amanda circa 2000… I am so very sorry it took me so long to understand how our body looked, and how much more comfortable we could have been.
#3. Most importantly, why didn’t anyone tell me I was perfect the way I was!? It just seems like a no brainer to me. Most women I speak to have experienced very similar feelings to what I’ve described at some point in their formative years. They remember how caught up in being “normal” they were. So why aren’t there more of us out there telling young women that they are perfect the way God made them? Look, I understand that doesn’t make the issues go away. In fact, I’m sure even if someone had taken the time to tell me it wouldn’t have sunken in easily if at all, but it just seems important to try. You know?
When I look back on those pictures now, I’m really not embarrassed about how I looked or how I acted. The truth is that if those things had come to me naturally, I wouldn’t appreciate the knowledge I have now. I wouldn’t be this strong without the chance to overcome the struggle. Although I do wish someone had offered up the honest advice I’ve been dishing, I don’t regret going through any of it. I don’t even cringe at the photographic evidence, I just wish someone had told me that I was perfect in a way I could have grasped it, or enough so it could register. Maybe I could have spent more energy on the things that mattered, rather than pouring over my body issues or hiding what I thought were flaws. Maybe I could have had more friends, been more confident, or been an encouragement to someone else if someone had just told me, “You are perfect.”
I know and understand so much more now. God doesn’t make mistakes. Our best attributes grow out of our greatest flaws. We are made to be 100% unique, and even the slightest differences in our bodies, minds, and heart play a significant role in the path that God has laid out for us. No one else is built or equipped for your story. Even on bad hair days, or fat days, or the day the unicorn horn of a zit pops up on your face, it doesn’t feel like it.
Although, I really do wish SOMEONE, ANYONE, would have pointed something’s out a long the way. I am still so very happy to be me despite my awkward, clumsy, raccoon eyed phase.
So , before I finish up this rant and move on, just in case SOMEONE, ANYONE never told you…. YOU ARE PERFECT!
YOU are PERFECT…
YOU ARE perfect!
Believe it yet?