On Beauty

My sister’s wedding is in three weeks, and I am honored to be her Matron of Honor. As such, I get to wear a very beautiful dress. This here dress:

billdress.jpg

And yes, dear readers, since you asked, that is me in the picture. On top of home schooling three kids and chasing after a fourth, I do a little dress modeling on the side. Just for fun.

But, since I am about six inches shorter than the average bridesmaid, there is much fabric to hack off and hem, etc etc.  So this afternoon, I went to see a seamstress about some alterations. And when I put on the dress, I was mortified to see that my middle section is rather bloated and puffy from a surgical procedure I had just three days ago. Such that I no longer look quite as good as I do in the above photo. Ahem.

In fact, I look about two months pregnant, and I’m not exaggerating.  Which would be fine, except that I’m not two months, or any months pregnant. Ugh. The seamstress was very nice about my round tummy, and tried to console me by saying things should resolve nicely in time for the wedding, and in the meantime, it wasn’t going to complicate her sewing or skew the fixes she needs to make. Well, that is good at least.

When Jay got home tonight I related my sad story, finishing with “And Honey, I truly look like I either have a serious beer belly, or am quite obviously pregnant. The dress looks terrible!”  To which my  daughter, listening nearby quickly responded “Oh not at all, Mom!!” with a sweet, sweet smile, clearly wanting to cheer me up, “It’s not bad like you think it isl! Sometimes you can be plump AND pretty!! And look, you have rosy cheeks too!”

Now of course this was not exactly the comfort I wanted, but I appreciate Abigail’s desire to comfort her mother, and her innocent and cheerful words gave me pause, in spite of my disgust over the size of my middle. It hit me that nothing in her language smacked of twentieth century terminology, and so I asked her where she’d heard that sort of wording. In a book, of course, and an old book at that.  A Little Princess is where she’d read conversation about a group of ladies who were plump, pretty, with rosy cheeks to boot.

And despite racking my feeble brain, I cannot think of a modern piece of literature that highlights anyone being pretty who is also described as “plump”. Which reminded me that beauty does come in all different sizes. Not that our culture recognizes all forms of beauty; it doesn’t. But when I hear my daughter’s viewpoint, that pretty does not necessarily mean skinny, it strikes me that she has a fairly healthy and balanced view of what is beautiful at her ripe old age of nine. And I hope that as she grows and matures, and sees more and more of what our culture interprets as beauty, she will continue to see and recognize beauty for what it truly is, in its many different sizes and shapes.

In today’s society of model-thin, almost anorexic-like ideals of beauty that our young girls are bombarded with, it is helpful…NO, make that needful for us parents to convey and live out this truth to our daughters (and our sons, for that matter, as our young men are perhaps even more inundated with unrealistic and unhealthy images of what ideal female beauty is).  But maybe we ourselves need to be reminded of it before we try to help our children learn it is so.  And hey readers….let’s not forget about those rosy cheeks either!

3 Comments

  1. Peter
    Sep 9, 2008

    Yeah, the picture doesn’t really capture your rosy cheeks.

    Yay, Abigail! Encouragement comes in all shapes and sizes, too.

  2. Mom/Ruth
    Sep 10, 2008

    Yes, good call, Abigail! She also provided a good (and sobering) reminder of how aware our children can be of the conversations that take place around them.

  3. Mom/Ruth
    Sep 10, 2008

    I see the computer fooled me again! Sorry for the double entry. But let me add that the dress is beautiful indeed!