Other than the normal, hypercritical teen-aged angst, I have not been terribly distraught over my appearance. That’s not to say I was happy with the way I looked. I must’ve been quite young (I was still sleeping in the small downstairs bedroom) when I would make faces in the mirror, trying to make my lips look thicker, more pouty, like the lips of the cute little red-haired girl that Mom babysat for.
I wished to grow up to look like the women of the Lil’ Abner comic strip. I wanted to look like Barbie. I would page through magazines and catalogues and pray heartily that I would grow to look like the models I chose. I was careful, since involving God, to not, unreasonably, choose the most beautiful, but just a modest – but possibly attainable – improvement over what he had given me. Later, I employed plucking, padding and trimming to try to alter and improve my appearance.
Mostly, though, I have lived my life resigned to the way that I look, because that’s my only choice. In fact, most of the time, I am confidant enough in my appearance, that even pointed insults roll off my back. Among the sisters in my family, we could easily note – and wouldn’t hesitate to mention – each others every single flaw. Of course, I’ve heard comments about my short stature all of my life. When I gave birth, at age nineteen, to a truly perfect baby girl, the husband of a good friend asked, “How did you manage to produce such a beautiful baby?” The best, though, came from my own daughters. It still makes me grin.
I was fixing dinner. My daughters, four and seven years old, were playing together in the next room. They had their Barbie dolls out. The dolls were dressed in their finest gowns, chattering back and forth with each other as they planned their dates with Ken and Kent. Thoughtfully, my daughter, Jen, sat up and looked at her sister.
“Don’t you wish our Mom was beautiful?” she asked.
Little Kate, pleased to be included in this level of conversation, took a moment to think before she answered.
“Yeeeaaah,” she said, “Even if she’d wear her wedding dress around, it wouldn’t be sooooo bad!”