Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beauty is skin deep, hurt goes clear through

I know a young lady in middle school who doesn't meet American cultural standards for beauty. Of course, early adolescence isn't exactly kind to most kids, but in addition to the usual struggles for clear skin and coordination, she is somewhat overweight.

Her coping device is to interact with the world through sarcasm. She doesn't appear to have a negative self-image, but does expect others not to choose her company. This is good, in that she sees it as their problem and not her own, but I suspect she gets lonely now and again. Whether it is self-fulfilling or not, she's right: the other kids don't seek her company.

Ideally, she could soldier on through the tough years of middle school and be confident that life is not always going to be this way. That is what we tell kids, right? People will not be so shallow, judgmental, and fickle as they get older. They act this way at your age because they are insecure.

The thing is, weight is a different issue for some reason. When you talk to people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight, or even those whose healthy weight is above the cultural ideal, they will tell you that the judging continues through adulthood. Some, like this girl, just become jaded and keep their distance from casual friendships. Some do their best to ignore it. Some can't and start to believe that they are inherently less valuable than people with other struggles.

It's hard not to be able to tell her things will get better.

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