I was shopping at Wal-mart tonight, picking up a few days’ rations, when I passed a mother and daughter in the aisle. They had bumped into a family friend and were chatting. The girl was about 15, thin, with pale blonde hair, glasses, and a cast on her wrist. The family friend remarked about how tall the girl was getting, and she might even say, “lovely.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” the mother replied, not quite serious, not quite joking. “I wouldn’t want it to go to her head.”
I turned to look at them, alarmed at the mother’s comment.
No, you know what? I thought. Do let it go to her head.
Let that thought sneak inside that young, insecure girl’s skull for a minute or two – that someone actually thinks she is “lovely.” That she looks okay. That she isn’t too fat, or too skinny, or too short. Let her consider, for a moment, that her skin isn’t the wrong tone, that her elbows aren’t too knobby and her nose isn’t the wrong size. Let it go to her head.
Because chances are 99 to 1 that she’s like most other 15-year-old girls, constantly worried that people think she’s not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough – just not enough – and then she will spend the rest of her life overcoming those thoughts. She will pay thousands of dollars to attend seminars and read books about self-esteem and overcoming self-hatred. She will get into relationships with people who mistreat her because she thinks she doesn’t deserve any better. She will buy too much make-up and go on crash diets and read too many magazines that promise her the one beauty secret that will make men want her.
If there’s one thought that will mess up her life, if there’s one thought that should not go to her head, it’s that she is not lovely. That she isn’t a beautiful human being. That maybe God messed up with her.
I had to write this down as soon as I got home. Because it bothered me. Maybe it bothered me because I spent far too much of my life believing that I’m not good enough myself. Maybe it bothered me because I’ve seen too many other people messed up by feeling inadequate.
I had to share it with the few people that actually read this blog. I should have shared it with that mother and daughter, but my instincts stopped me from starting a fight in public with a stranger.
If you know a teenaged girl, and you think it’s appropriate to say (given your position or relationship to her), tell her that she’s lovely. Odds are, she needs to hear it.
Let it go to her head.