Archive for self image

The imperfect figure: accepting our bodies

body-types-shapes

We are all born to look a certain way. It’s not until we are exposed to beauty expectations that we start to have issues with the parts we have.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and decided there was something about yourself that you didn’t like? I can answer be honest and say that, yes, I have had that experience.

The women in my family—including my mother, my grandmother, and me—have all been “blessed with” a not-so-prominent backside. I’m talking about our butts. This fact was so well known that for a while I was called “little butt.” To me, the name was always a joke until one day I looked at it in the mirror and was like, “Wow, they weren’t kidding!”

I’m sure that each and every person alive—man or woman—has looked in the mirror to observe a part of their bodies at least once. But what tells us something is wrong with the way we look? Is it the magazines that retouch every photo we see? Take Kim Kardashian, for instance: she’s well known for her booty, so why is it that her photo was still fixed to make her bust, waist, and hips look smaller?

Kim Kardashian

Kim shared this photo with fans and even admitted to having cellulite and not being bothered by it:

“So what? I have a little cellulite.”

This makes me wonder why is it that we label people or point out what’s different about their bodies. Small, skinny, thin, big, wide, fat, average: the names are endless and pointless.

Comfortable is a word that should be used more often, followed by happy.

When I look at myself in the mirror now, I say that my size isn’t small or skinny or thin or average. It’s just my size. And unless I decide to have surgery or retouch every photo I’m, in I’ll always look like this… until I grow old of course. Even then I’m going to accept my wrinkles like I’ve had them my entire life because they won’t be going anywhere.

When it comes to self-acceptance, there isn’t a limit on how much we can achieve. Simply put, we all need to love our bodies and everything that comes with them.

Brittany Eldridge

Freckles: beauty or beast?

Freckles

I got my first freckle when I was almost nine; I had noticed it on the left side of my chin. My first case of denial was born; I didn’t want freckles. I wanted to have clear skin like the numerous models I had seen in make-up commercials.

Since I was still a kid, I had never paid attention to the fact that everyone in my family was covered in freckles. Especially their arms. When I finally did notice, I was terrified. I couldn’t tell you a specific reason why freckles scared me, but I knew I didn’t want them.

Skip ahead to when I was thirteen: the dreaded puberty began, and so did the agglomeration of freckles. My arms were targeted first and then my face. For a long tome I had a bridge of freckles that traveled from one cheek, across my nose, and to the other. It sure wasn’t the way to make me feel pretty. I hated them, and I hated when people would point them out and call them cute. What was cute about freckles? The way they made people stare? No.

When I first started experimenting with make-up about a year later, I discovered concealer, but to my dismay it refused to work for freckles. Still, I was determined to make them disappear. I wanted my skin to appear smooth and free from any sort of discoloration.

But what I didn’t know then was that I was doomed from the start. They just kept appearing, and eventually I started to lose track of how often new ones would pop up. Before I knew it, I was covered from head to toe.

Yes, they are even on my feet. Weird, I know.

And my upper lip. I literally have a freckle mustache.

The strange part about it all? I started to be okay with it. I suppose once you’re forced to deal with something for so long, you learn to accept it. And the thing is, no one really cared that I had freckles. It was just me. And now, at almost twenty-one, I wouldn’t want to look any other way.

I love my freckles. To be honest, they make me feel pretty. I think they draw out the better things about my face, and without them I  wouldn’t recognize myself. They have become an integral part of my identity. I smile when I see them, and while it took me a good amount of time to get to this point, I can honestly say I’m happy to be here.

Embrace the freckles.

Brittany Eldridge

Will the real slim shading please stand up?


Every Girl is Beautiful Photo

 

It’s no secret that I am my mother’s daughter. We have similar facial features, the same hair color, same attitude, and same body frame.  It’s always a common joke in my family to poke and prod at our bodies because we have no meat on our bones, as if we’re a couple of Thanksgiving turkeys on display. But the truth is that it seems as though the older I get, the more my family seems to notice that I’m skinny, or more importantly, underweight.

My doctor of fifteen years has always tried to push me to eat more than three meals a day just so I can put on a few extra pounds. But I found that more and more I was eating foods with a high fat and grease content in the hopes that it would give me the boost I needed, but instead the weight didn’t stick. And I would just be left feeling gross and empty.

From the time I was fifteen until I turned nineteen I felt guilty about being skinny. I felt like something was wrong with me. How could I not when every time I would see a relative they would ask if I was ever going to put any meat on my bones and if I still ate like a bird? (Many times I wanted to correct them and say that birds eat quite a bit of food even for their small sizes.) There were even times when people in high school would ask me if I was anorexic because I “just kind of seem a little sick…”

But who were they to make me feel a way I didn’t want to? It took some time, but I finally realized that I could be happy with the body I have. Instead of eating all those fatty foods, I started to balance what I was eating by making sure my body was getting the vitamins and other things it needed. For a while I took an iron supplement to get myself away from borderline anemia. It helped with the pale skin and sickly look that everyone thought I had. I also started to take a daily vitamin, and I made sure to drink water and eat the best that I could.

It took a couple of years, but now—at almost twenty-one—I am maintaining a healthy weight for my age and height: I weigh approximately 120 pounds, and I feel good. There is no longer any guilt or question about whether or not I’m underweight. I can look in the mirror and smile at myself, and to me that’s a victory. Of course my family still says I’m too skinny, but I think they do that now just to give me a hard time.

I think it’s important for people to be proud of what they have: you’re the one who has to live in your body so I recommend making it a home.

Brittany Eldridge

 

In Defense of the Selfie

The Mona Lisa gets the duck face treatment

The Mona Lisa gets the duck face treatment

 

A month ago, my dad and I were vacationing in Toronto, Canada. After a thrilling minute-long elevator ride, we were finally at our next destination: the “lookout” level of the CN Tower, 1,136 feet above the ground.

The views were spectacular.

There were so many things to look at—the Art Gallery, the lake, the hotel where we were staying. I pulled out my camera and snapped picture after picture of the view. After I had almost completely exhausted my memory card, I started looking around inside.

Normal tourist activities were going on. Families were crowded around the windows. Some people were buying overpriced snacks. And, of course, countless numbers of people were taking selfies. It was a bit overwhelming to see so many people simultaneously engage in this activity. Backs leaned against glass, arms raised to get the perfect angle.

I am not a selfie-hater, but in that moment I was frustrated by what I was seeing. I thought that these people should be enjoying themselves in what I thought was the appropriate way. For a moment my thoughts flew out of my control.  These people (most of them women) were self-absorbed and self-obsessed.

After we were done upstairs, we took the elevator down and started browsing through the gift shop. During that time my frustration had become focused on myself.

Who was I to judge these people? I didn’t know anything about them.

And I had to admit I was being hypocritical, of course. I’ve taken plenty of selfies and somehow have managed to avoid becoming a self-obsessed monster. But the question remained: Why was I so mad at these women?  Why was I judging them so harshly?

I realized that I was buying into a very pervasive attitude. Society has infected me with its fanatical scorn. The selfie is subject to rampant derision and mockery. Women (especially teenage girls) are blasted for self-absorption and lack of perspective when they take a selfie. Duck faces and peace signs have become unspeakable offenses.

Think about it. What kinds of words are used to describe the young women who have the audacity to cultivate and enjoy their own image? They’re desperate, conceited, and proud. They’re narcissistic attention whores, and they are ruining society.

All this is heaped on us for such a small crime – the crime of declaring and celebrating our own existence by striking a quick pose in front of the camera lens. And why?

Because the more pictures we take of ourselves, the more dangerous we are. The more we look at our own image and say Damn, I look good, the closer we get to loving ourselves and forgetting what society has taught us about beauty.

Every day, the media sends out more and more messages with the same idea: if you are a woman, you aren’t good enough.

You need to lose weight.

You need to get rid of your wrinkles.

Cellulite is gross.

You need to wear more makeup.

If you don’t get your skin cleared up, no one will ever love you.

And so on.

And we buy into it! I know I do. I bought into it so much, I started judging other women for daring to push the norms society has put in place for us.

Well, no more.

Between my cell phone and my computer, I probably have over a hundred selfies. Most of them stay private, though I have a handful smattered across Instagram and Facebook. I keep them private not because I’m ashamed of how I look. I keep them private because they’re for me and me alone. They make me feel good about myself. If I’m having a good hair day or my makeup looks great, you bet I’m going to record it. Stuck inside my pocket or purse is my portfolio: the proof I can give myself that I am beautiful.

So keep taking selfies, ladies! And don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.

by Lauren Bunch

A message for my younger self

Middle school graduation, 2004

Last August, I decided to go through my family photos. It had been almost a year after my mother’s death, and I finally felt ready to look through the twenty-two years of precious memories I was fortunate to share with her. My favorites were placed in a pile to be taken to my new apartment.

For most of my life, my parents were quite diligent about taking photos.  The major events were all recorded: birthdays, holidays, vacations. I poured through boxes and envelopes full of pictures, admiring images of a simpler time. There was newborn Lauren, a thicket of dark hair covering her head. There was Lauren on the first day of school, eager and clad in brand new clothes.

Then I came upon a picture that surprised me. I immediately recognized the photo—my dad had taken it on the day of my middle school graduation. My mom was next to me, arm draped across my shoulder.  She smiled largely while I had a hint of a grin on my face. My brown hair came down past my shoulders. I wore an orange sundress and my face was riddled with a handful of red pimples.

It was astonishing to see this moment that had been housed in the fuzzy corners of my mind. I didn’t remember looking like that. The most pervasive memories of my pre-teen years are stained with anger and frustration.  I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw. I felt like my body was out of my control.  I didn’t fit in and was teased constantly.

As a result, the feelings that picture brought up were completely unexpected. I felt regret, but not for the reasons I might have thought. I felt regret because I had been so very hard on myself.

Clutching that picture in my hand, I wished I had been kinder to myself back then. The girl in the photo was not a monster. She was not the massive waste of space she thought she was. She was an awkward, gawky, chubby, normal girl. And she was lovely.

I have two ongoing goals that I would like to work on this semester during my internship with I Will Not Diet. One, I want to encourage women and girls everywhere to be nicer to themselves. The problems we have with our bodies aren’t going to be solved with anger and self-flagellation. I truly believe that when you feel good about yourself, personal health follows. If we can stop beating ourselves up and try to love ourselves, we’ll all feel so much better.

With that in mind, my second goal is to be kinder to myself. I want to be able to love myself no matter what shape my body is. This is obviously easier said than done, but I am committed. I hope that other women and girls will join me as I learn to love what I see in the mirror.

by Lauren Bunch

The Real You Project is now looking for photos and videos

Visibility is a key part of the body-revolution.

Putting yourself out there and claiming that your body type—along with the body types of endless others—is beautiful and should not be ignored. Many body types have been kept out of the media for years, and the best way to change that is to put ourselves into the media.

We here at I Will Not Diet created an online project a while ago called The Real You Project. Before the project, we asked people to submit pictures of themselves that they liked, but also were not filtered or altered in any way.

This year we’re changing that structure of The Real You Project a little bit by adding videos and self-love photos.

The videos The Real You is now featuring are ones in which people discuss their personal stories about how they have learned to love the way they look. The story can be told just by talking to the screen or in a more creative way such as a poem or song. These videos are designed to encourage you to find your voice and share it with us. And then we’ll give you a place to be heard in the hopes that your story will make someone out there feel less alone.

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The self-love photos are simply photos in which the person pictured holds up an index card or whiteboard that explains what they love about their body. This will hopefully become a tool in which readers and patrons can show positivity about themselves and embrace all types of love for their bodies.

Ideally The Real You Project will include as wide a variety of people as possible. Your submission of a photo or video can help make visible the various types of people that exist in this world and allow you all to share your very different stories.

We would like to encourage you to be a part of The Real You Project, and help keep the body-positive revolution strong.

To do so, please email your photo or video to realyouproject@gmail.com.

When your mother says she’s fat
…a cross post by Kasey Edwards

Originally appeared on The Daily Life and republished here with permission.

*

Dear Mum,

I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible. Up until that point I had believed that you were beautiful – in every sense of the word. I remember flicking through old photo albums and staring at pictures of you standing on the deck of a boat. Your white strapless bathing suit looked so glamorous, just like a movie star. Whenever I had the chance I’d pull out that wondrous white bathing suit hidden in your bottom drawer and imagine a time when I’d be big enough to wear it; when I’d be like you.

But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a party and you said to me, ‘‘Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible.’’
At first I didn’t understand what you meant.

‘‘You’re not fat,’’ I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, ‘‘Yes I am, darling. I’ve always been fat; even as a child.’’

In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:

1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie.
2. Fat is ugly and horrible.
3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.

Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ‘‘Oh-I-really-shouldn’t’’, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.

Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway? And because I believed I was fat, I knew I was no good.

But now that I am older, and a mother myself, I know that blaming you for my body hatred is unhelpful and unfair. I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.

Look at the example Nanna set for you. Despite being what could only be described as famine-victim chic, she dieted every day of her life until the day she died at 79 years of age. She used to put on make-up to walk to the letterbox for fear that somebody might see her unpainted face.

I remember her ‘‘compassionate’’ response when you announced that Dad had left you for another woman. Her first comment was, ‘‘I don’t understand why he’d leave you. You look after yourself, you wear lipstick. You’re overweight – but not that much.’’

Before Dad left, he provided no balm for your body-image torment either.

‘‘Jesus, Jan,’’ I overheard him say to you. ‘‘It’s not that hard. Energy in versus energy out. If you want to lose weight you just have to eat less.’’

That night at dinner I watched you implement Dad’s ‘‘Energy In, Energy Out: Jesus, Jan, Just Eat Less’’ weight-loss cure. You served up chow mein for dinner. (Remember how in 1980s Australian suburbia, a combination of mince, cabbage, and soy sauce was considered the height of exotic gourmet?) Everyone else’s food was on a dinner plate except yours. You served your chow mein on a tiny bread-and-butter plate.

As you sat in front of that pathetic scoop of mince, silent tears streamed down your face. I said nothing. Not even when your shoulders started heaving from your distress. We all ate our dinner in silence. Nobody comforted you. Nobody told you to stop being ridiculous and get a proper plate. Nobody told you that you were already loved and already good enough. Your achievements and your worth – as a teacher of children with special needs and a devoted mother of three of your own – paled into insignificance when compared with the centimetres you couldn’t lose from your waist.

It broke my heart to witness your despair and I’m sorry that I didn’t rush to your defence. I’d already learned that it was your fault that you were fat. I’d even heard Dad describe losing weight as a ‘‘simple’’ process – yet one that you still couldn’t come to grips with. The lesson: you didn’t deserve any food and you certainly didn’t deserve any sympathy.

But I was wrong, Mum. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalising these messages. We have become our own jailors and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.

But this madness has to stop, Mum. It stops with you, it stops with me and it stops now. We deserve better – better than to have our days brought to ruin by bad body thoughts, wishing we were otherwise.

And it’s not just about you and me any more. It’s also about Violet. Your granddaughter is only 3 and I do not want body hatred to take root inside her and strangle her happiness, her confidence and her potential. I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. When Violet looks to us to learn how to be a woman, we need to be the best role models we can. We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are. And for her to believe us, we need to believe it ourselves.

The older we get, the more loved ones we lose to accidents and illness. Their passing is always tragic and far too soon. I sometimes think about what these friends – and the people who love them – wouldn’t give for more time in a body that was healthy. A body that would allow them to live just a little longer. The size of that body’s thighs or the lines on its face wouldn’t matter. It would be alive and therefore it would be perfect.

Your body is perfect too. It allows you to disarm a room with your smile and infect everyone with your laugh. It gives you arms to wrap around Violet and squeeze her until she giggles. Every moment we spend worrying about our physical ‘‘flaws’’ is a moment wasted, a precious slice of life that we will never get back.

Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.

Love, Kasey xx

This is an excerpt from Dear Mum: a collection of letters from Australian sporting stars, musicians, models, cooks and authors revealing what they would like to say to their mothers before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance. All royalties go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. (Published by Random House and available now.)

 

Kasey Edwards is a writer based in Australia and author of four books including 30-Something and Over It, 30-Something and the Clock is Ticking, and OMG! That’s Not My Husband/Child. You can visit her website at kaseyedwards.com and follow her on Twitter here.

“We should spend more time appreciating the things we do like”: Dove experiment asks women to see their own beauty

In case you missed it, a video made by Dove has been going around the blogosphere today.

In the video, Dove hired a male forensic artist to draw two portraits of several woman—one based on the way she describes herself and one based on the way someone else describes her. The artist does all this without ever looking at the women, who sit behind a curtain.

The differences are remarkable, and the women’s responses to them are quite moving.

The portraits drawn from the descriptions the women give of themselves are dark, brooding, and not attractive.

The portraits drawn from the description others give of them are cheerful, “open, friendly, and happy,” and, above all, definitely attractive.

And the discrepancies between the two portaits send the clear message that we are often way too hard on ourselves.

At the end of the video, one woman says, “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty… It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”

It’s a statement that couldn’t be more true… for all of us.

You can see a longer version of the video at Adweek.

Parents and Their Need to Think Before They Speak: A Response to Laura Beck’s “Don’t Call People Fat in Front of Your Kids Unless You Really Want to Screw Them Up” . . .
a guest post by Samantha Starr

Laura Beck’s “Don’t Call People Fat in Front of Your Kids Unless You Really Want to Screw Them Up” opens with a situation and a topic that everyone is aware of: celebrity pregnancy. While Beck focuses the beginning of her blog post on Kim Kardashian and the ridicule her pregnant body recieved in the checkout line at Target, the real topic of her post is the influence parents have on their children and how many parents don’t realize it.

My mother and father didn’t realize how much influence they had over me, not in the beginning at least, and how can I blame them? They were first-time parents, 29 and 42, and had been set in their ways when I came along. I know they didn’t stop cursing in front of me because I’ve heard, as have many of my friends, stories of when I was barely talking and said, “Shit, shit, shit” in response to my mother’s frustration with the car seat.

There was also that time when I went to daycare and got sent home for saying, “Fuck” instead of “buck” in a sing-along about deer. (I guess they let the first one slide, but I kept saying it. Oops!)  While I had a potty mouth when I was a child, my weight was never an issue.

Actually, that’s a lie.

My weight wasn’t an issue in the conventional sense. I wasn’t overweight, but I was dramatically underweight until I was about fifteen. My best friend from second grade to our senior year of high school came from a family of obese grandparents and parents who never held back in telling my mother that I was “too skinny” and looked “sickly.” To them, this was all a big joke.

Most of the time these comments were made right in front of me, and if not, I was within earshot. My mother relentlessly defended me and kept me from their house when they accused me of having an eating disorder in the fourth grade. I didn’t understand, but I knew I could eat enough for two people and not gain a pound, so I didn’t let it bother me.

Beck observes that, “It’s hard enough to be a woman in our sexist culture, and the greatest gift we can give our girls is confidence in themselves—and that includes their bodies.” Any woman within her right mind agrees with this statement. I know that I do. My childhood and adolescence proved that to me.

While my best friend’s grandmother and mother were busy harping on me for being underweight, my best friend was somewhat overweight, but extremely happy and confident. This was the way it was as we entered high school. I was skinny, still, but softer and had yet to develop any sort of breasts or curves. I walked around like Gumby—too tall and made of Play-Doh—and started to hate my lanky, skinny, soft frame. Beck says, “As a fat kid, I was made very aware that my body was wrong. I got it from all angles, but the adults. The adults were the worst,” and I felt the same way about being underweight. In the back of my mind, the comments of my best friend’s family were always echoing in my head:

If you stood sideways and stuck your tongue out, you’d look like a zipper.

You’d blow away if a strong wind came by.

Or my favorite that I will never forget:

We’re gonna call you fathead because your body is so small, but your head is so big.

I could say that their taunting and teasing turned me into a raging anorexic, but it just delayed the growth of my confidence and comfort with my own body. When I finally went through puberty at fourteen, my breasts didn’t develop like the other girls, but my hips widened and my ass… would you believe me if I said it appeared overnight? I still have the stretchmarks to prove it.

It didn’t take therapy to fix me because my mother was my advocate and my best friend through it all. She constantly reassured me that they didn’t have any idea what they were talking about, and she asked me to look at them and see just how fat they were, but I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t reduce them to their size like they had done to me. And I don’t think they ever meant what they said to me in a hurtful way. I just think they were as averse to skinny as most of our society is to fat.

Whether skinny, fat, black, white, tall, or short, Beck’s article is not about weight, color, or size, but about influence.

She takes the disappointing situation she witnesses in the Target check-out aisle and relates it to her painful past as what she calls “a fat kid.”

As a skinny kid, it’s plain to see that adults still influenced my development and negative comments affected me in a negative way while my mother’s postivity saved me from living my life with self-hate and an unhealthy body image. Just as I echoed my parent’s cursing, children reflect their parents’ attitudes, and, as Beck rightly points out, if parents aren’t careful, they can really screw their children up.

Samantha Starr just graduated from college with a degree in English, meaning she is currently unemployed and/or working in the food service industry. 

This story is worth more than a thousand words

I went to the funeral of my last living grandparent today—my paternal grandmother, Margaret McCaffrey, who was 96 years old when she died on Sunday.

Oh, I loved this woman dearly. We all did.

And during the funeral, her youngest daughter, my Aunt Janie, lovingly captured why we all adored her: she was a giver. With tears in her eyes, Jane read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and then told three moving stories about her mother helping those who were less fortunate.

I won’t repeat those stories here because those are Jane’s stories, not mine, but I will tell you that these weren’t stories about simply volunteering at a shelter or giving to charity. These were stories about standing up for people who were different than her at a time when it wasn’t popular to do so.

But I will tell you that these stories fit with what I already knew about my grandmother, which was that she really seemed to appreciate everyone she met. The funny thing is that I didn’t put this together until I heard Jane’s touching speech this morning. I knew she loved and appreciated me and everyone we knew, but Grandma did it so quietly that you almost didn’t notice (unlike Grandpa, who I loved just as much and who was just as giving but who showed his appreciation of others with a volume and humor that sometimes overshadowed hers).

It wasn’t just that Grandma appreciated people for who they were. She also appreciated them in ways others didn’t. She saw the intelligence in the child who struggled in school, the discipline in the adult who hadn’t made it yet, the potential in everyone.

And though I was the awkward sister for many years, Grandma never saw me that way. She saw my beauty before anyone else.

I’ll never forget when I first realized this. It was during the summer of my thirteenth year, between seventh and eighth grade. For some reason I can’t remember, I had decided to visit both sets of my grandparents on my own for a week each. And while I was with my dad’s parents, my grandmother made me pose for a photo one afternoon.

I was wearing a very eighties outfit of short white shorts and a lavender-colored shirt with a matching bandana, and when the photo came back, Grandma went on and on about how beautiful I looked.

“Look at your legs, Molly,” she said. “They are so long and lovely.”

It was true that my legs were long and lovely, but I couldn’t see that because I was too focused on what I saw as my lesser qualities: my shiny forehead, wide nose, and too-short hair.

“And your tiny waist,” Grandma said. Then she turned to me with a sincere smile. “You are such a pretty girl.”

At the time I thought Grandma was either just being nice or starting to show signs of age. After all no one thought I was a pretty girl. My sister was the pretty one. My cousin Amy was pretty. I was the smart one, the thoughtful one. But I was not pretty.

To my great horror, Grandma made copies of the photo and gave them to my parents and other family members. She even had it blown up and framed for me. But I hated that photo because I thought it represented all that was wrong with me and hid it in one of my drawers as soon as I got home, determined that no one would ever see it.

Unfortunately I got my wish. I haven’t seen that photo in years. And now I would do almost anything to find it, to see what Grandma saw years before even I could.

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