When I was a little girl, I thought you could have a pretty face, or, you could have a good body. You could be thin, or you could have boobs. One or the other, not both. It was the law of physics. Or something. In my little girl mind this made sense. It seemed fair, and good, and right. And then I saw Christie Brinkley in a bikini, and the world as I knew it ended. Way to go, uptown girl.
As I grew up, I learned that life doesn’t always make sense, (I don’t always make sense) and it definitely has nothing to do with being fair.
Despite all the “don’t judge by appearance” stuff we say, let’s be honest - we all judge based on the outer person. Because in the beginning, that’s all we can see.
I remember a girl in high school. Her name was Amy. She was absolutely gorgeous. She had perfect tan skin, and green eyes, and light brown hair, and she could eat whatever she wanted. Yeah, one of those. Guys drooled when they saw her. I hated her. Okay, I didn’t actually hate her, but there was definitely a mix of jealousy, and envy, and deflation, and some other stuff that I admit I sometimes feel now when I compare myself to someone who is thinner/prettier/ something else-er than me.
Amy started modeling, and her pictures were in a flyer in the newspaper. There she was. And she didn’t look like anything. She was just there. The camera didn’t like her, and secretly (okay, not so secretly) I rejoiced. Okay, I didn’t actually rejoice, but on some level, it was kind of a good day.
In my world, outer beauty would be based on inner beauty. If you had goodness in your heart, you’d have a beautiful chest. If you reached out to help others, you’d have beautiful arms. If you spoke honestly, and with kindness, you’d have a beautiful mouth. That’s how it would work. And it would make sense. And it would be fair, and good, and right.
When I think about the people that mean something to me, the people I love, and care about, and like - it has nothing to do with how they look. It’s not because of their eyes, or smile, or face. It’s not because of their arms, or legs, or back, or chest. It’s because of laughing, and crying, and saying nothing. It’s because of smiling, and understanding, and sharing dessert. It’s because they are kind, and good, and make me think. It’s because I’m happy, and proud, and better for having them in my life. It’s because. These are the things that make me want to walk beside someone. These are the things that make a beautiful person. These are the things that are real.
Real is wonderful. It’s existing, and genuine, and true. And it’s all and everything Pinocchio ever wanted. He knew the other stuff didn’t matter. The string puppet had it figured out.
I think nothing says it better than the words spoken to The Velveteen Rabbit: “It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
I wish I always had it together. I wish I was always confident, and mature, and above all that superficial crap. But sometimes, I forget. I let myself get wrapped up in the silliness of “I wish” and forget the “I am” that is real. And that’s when I need to remind myself. So I smile at a stranger, or inhale the smell of mud after it rains, or laugh with a friend. Or sometimes, I just close my eyes, and think of a shabby brown rabbit, and a little wooden boy.