“Don’t you know how beautiful you are?”
“You always say that to me when you tuck me in!” sweet little seven-year-old Vivi squealed as I pulled the covers over her.
“Well, do you know that it’s true?”
“Of course I do, silly!”
The overwhelming joy I feel when I hear her unhesitant response is quickly followed by a sense of panic.
When will the inevitable happen?
When will this bright-eyed beauty begin denying the truth in exchange for the insidious chatter of society?
You’re not beautiful. You’re not pretty. You’re not good enough.
You are not allowed to be unique. You must change.
I remember sitting in music class as a kindergartener. It was recorder day, everyone’s favorite. As the children around me laughed joyously while playing made up tunes on their plastic flutes, I sat staring down at my thighs, wondering why mine were so much bigger than all the other girls’.
I remember running around during fifth grade recess and wondering why my hair wasn’t as shiny and my teeth weren’t as straight as my friends.
By the time I was a freshman in high school, self-loathing was a social norm among my friends and I. We’d spend hours scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds, each perfectly filtered photo serving as a glaring reflection of our own hideous flaws.
“Look at her body! She’s perfect. That’s enough to make me consider starvation.”
“Hey, if it would mean looking that good, I’d gladly starve myself. Her pictures look airbrushed. I basically look like a disgusting pig next to her.”
Oh darling…don’t you know how beautiful you are?
The truth is, her photos look airbrushed because they are. Everyone’s are.
We have entered a season in society where it has become socially acceptable for young women to spend hours editing social network profiles, carefully choosing photos, and untagging unflattering pictures, in the hopes of portraying an “ideal image.”
Sometimes I slip into a sweet daydream of a world where Valencia and X-Pro don’t exist…
I pray that I am not the first to tell you that the ideal version of yourself is not to be hidden behind the screen of an iPhone. Surely your worth comes from more than the amount of people who precariously double-tap that shot you just spent so much time choosing a filter for.
Believe me, whoever you are reading this right now… whether you’re a Vivi or a high school me… I can assure you that you are beautiful. You are a splendid soul, perfectly made, carefully crafted. You are brave and cherished. You hold immense potential and you have a father in Heaven who is incredibly impressed with your messy morning hair.
Believe it in your heart. Carry it in your soul. Sing it in your sleep. Dream it.
…Because it’s true.
Don’t you know how beautiful you are?
Vivi, age 7