Sometime in the last year or so I read an article floating somewhere on the internet that talked about how we shouldn’t compliment very young girls with words like “pretty girl” and such, because then, somewhere in their psyche, they will think they have to be pretty to be appreciated, loved, and accepted.
I’m not sure how much I buy that, though I know that at some point in my childhood I definitely adopted that mentality. That I had to be pretty, I had to be skinny (well, or at least, ‘normal’ – which I was not) for anyone to actually love me. Being the child who saw things from a long-term viewpoint rather than just this-minute, I assumed this meant that I would never marry, since I would never be pretty, thanks to my extra serving of body curves. Or, if I married, it would be a man who was a widower, and needed help raising his children. No joke. That’s what I assumed.
Which is heartbreaking, looking back. I want to take young me, pick me up, cuddle me, and whisper truth into my younger ear. But I don’t get that chance.
All that to say, I’m pretty hyper-sensitive to body-image remarks by women (or men) about themselves and others. I’m also hyper-sensitive to comments that articles like the one I read make. They stick with me now.
There is a little toddler that I babysit fairly frequently. She’s absolutely adorable. Blue eyes, curly hair, and the happiest, brightest smile that is reminiscent of a buttercup (that’s a flower for any flower-ignorant people out there). She is toddler-gorgeous.
And while I tell her this fairly often (because I do think it’s necessary – girls NEED to hear they are pretty) I also make a point of complimenting her in other ways. The endearment I try to use most often is “Loved One” – because that is exactly what she is, by me, by those around her, and especially by her parents. And nothing can change that. And there is nothing she can do to earn more love – or to lose it (not saying that she can’t make loving her harder or easier, because that is possible).
And so, if the names we call children when they are very young CAN take root deep inside them and help show them how to see the world, the name Loved One hopefully shows her how very un-dependent others’ love for her is based on her looks, or intelligence, or achievements. In fact, others loving her, or her value, or her worth is dependent on nothing save her simply being her.
This hit me hard when I first started calling her Loved One – because I think that’s how it works with us and God. Our value, our worth, our identity, God loving us, is dependent on NOTHING we do. In fact, it’s simply because God made us, and we are who we are that gives us value, worth, identity, etc. I wish I had realized that as a young girl, and especially as a teenager.
You are loved by God and others around you simply because you are you – not because of what you do or how you look. Just keep bein’ you. It’s the best gift you can give the world.
(Assuming, of course, that you bein’ you is a you that is striving to become more like the you that God envisioned when He made you. I think that’s kinda incredibly important. Of course, you can’t do that either without Him and accepting His love for you.)