When did I learn that being small was an important thing for a girl to be? It seems like I’ve somehow always known but …I know that isn’t true. Staring at a picture of myself at age 6 I contemplated when “largeness” entered my life. At 6 eyes flashing, sassy, hands on my hips cute as I wanna be daddy’s girl, I was still considered an average sized child. It seems to me things started to change around my tenth year; the taunts on the playground, my mother’s exasperation as I tried on clothes when shopping…all mounting evidence that I was now “LARGE” . Why did it matter anyway? Wasn’t I still clever and cute? As I grew older and yes, larger the taunting became more unbearable..”Fat Jelly” “Fat mamma” on and on it went. I don’t think the connection between my eating habits and size genuinely sunk in to my psyche until the age of 13. That was the year i first heard..”you have such a cute face but…” In retrospect I have no real memory of ever approving of my body. I heard others judgement and with them I agreed. My faults were many according to the television, magazines and the schoolyard bullies..lets see….my thighs were too big, shoulders too broad, way too tall for a girl ..and well really what could God have possibly been thinking when he gave me those broad shoulders? Didn’t he know that only men are supposed to have broad shoulders? Girls are supposed to be small. “That Girl” was small, “Bat girl” was small, all the girls on “Petticoat junction were small…and there were all these rules for “Big Girls” like… 1.) Big girls should never sit on the arm or edge of furniture 2.) Big girls never ever wear sleeveless tops and maybe the most important rule of all 3.) Big girls should never wear bright colors..after all it is important for a “Big girl” not to draw any undue attention to herself. Now as a child I wasn’t quite sure who created these rules, but my mother firmly enforced them. As an adult after years of trying every diet and excercise fad from HCG injections to Phen Phen I recognize that both men and women are constantly being bombarded with the message that they are not sufficient and they must do or become something other than themselves to achieve the elusive state of “happy” that we all long for.. As a young girl my inner being felt like a gentle fragile princess, but no one seemed to see me that way and they definitely did not treat me that way. Instead they called me “Biggun” which is short for she is a big one! That name brought many a giggle from children to adults, friends and family. They honestly felt it was harmless good natured humor, but it affected me deeply. It made me feel vulnerable, and ashamed. It distorted my internal vision causing me to see less of my potential and to doubt my own worth. A few years ago I was given a picture of my maternal grandmother. I spent hours staring intently at the shape of her face the curves of her body the texture of her hair. I caught glimpses of myself in her and I tried to recall the rare stories about her I’d listened to as a very small child. Her name was Mabel and she too was a large lady. Tall in staure with broad shoulders. I am told she was very gentle and fragile in her demeanor. I never knew her but I hear she was a big hearted hard loving woman. In coming to know Jesus one of the greatest revelations he has given me is how much he values me. The value he places on me has everything to do with the investment he has placed in me and nothing to do with my physical appearance, intellect or possessions. What a relief to know that there is nothing more I need to do, achieve or become to be happy. I’ll exchange that elusive dream, for self acceptance, not because I am too perfect to reject, but because he uses others rejection to free me from needing their approval and I embrace the peace that passes all understanding as I stay my mind on Jesus and his love for me. These days when I think of my Grandmother I imagine her standing in heaven next to my Lord encouraging me forward in this race we call life..I can almost hear them cheering me on and I hear her say “Large and lovely that is my girl!” …and just maybe this body is a loving reminder that she came before me living, loving and creating. As proof to the world that she was here I’ll be her legacy a big hearted, hard loving woman living, loving and creating. As proof to the world that Christ is here I’ll be his legacy a woman freed from the bondage of becoming perfect to resting in the love of the one who is perfect.
Reflect on Psalm 139 and how much God loves you.
Loving you like only a mamma can,