I just finished an amazing book written by one of my writer-heroes, Margot Starbuck. I love this woman. First off, she’s funny. I like funny people. Second, she’s funky and wears groovy glasses. Third, she likes the show “Soul Train” from the 70’s. But mostly, I love her message. It echoes the heart of a culture rebel.
The book is called: Unsqueezed: springing free from skinny jeans, nose jobs, highlights and stilettos. Here’s why her book spoke to me.
I was a chubby kid. No seriously, I was. People would sing to me, “Everybody Connie chunk tonight” to the tune of Wang Chung (where my 80’s people at?!) It gets worse- I also had buck teeth. I was also called Connie foo foo (someone say this with me: COMPLEX).
I remember in grade five I decided to ask to be beautiful for Christmas. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t ask Santa for that one. Nope, I went to the Big Guy and asked Him to take my chubs away, fix my teeth and make me breathtakingly beautiful. Looking back, I can’t believe the level of faith I had to actually believe God was going to actually see this request through! I woke up Christmas morning avoiding the mirror right away as I wanted to be sure to give God thanks for the amazing gift of beauty He gave me that morning. After pouring out my heart of thanks, I approached the mirror with great expectation only to find…. Connie foo foo/Connie chunk still reflecting in front of me.
I was devastated.
Years would go by of bullying, boys mocking me by saying; “I don’t know why you’re going to the dance. No one would dance with you because you’re so ugly”. Alas, I was quite the ugly duckling. Looking back at pictures, I still cringe a bit. I would find comfort when some well-intentioned adult would say, “Don’t worry, it’s just baby fat. You’ll grow out of it”. When the “baby fat” was still there in grade 12, I wondered when this would ever happen. And note, no one ever said I’d “grow out” of my teeth. Perhaps they knew that was a lost cause…
I turned out to be an average looking teen. A definite step up from childhood post braces, but still Connie Chunk nonetheless. A mentor in my life said to me during my teen years, “You and I we’re just average looking people”. She then pointed out a couple of girls we both knew who were as she stated, “really beautiful”. At the time, my heart was crushed. You mean, I was AVERAGE?? I wanted to beautiful like the other girls!
If someone said that to me now, I’d take it. I AM average. You’re not going to see me on the cover of a magazine – even on days I put in a lot of effort. I’m at peace with “average”. My husband doesn’t seem to mind “average”. The only thing I don’t want to be is “cute”. Try calling me that and see what happens… Unfortunately, my hubby says that’s exactly what I am. Cute. Urgh.
It’s that exact word that makes me spend so much money. I’m trying hard to ditch the “cute” and get the “hot”. A new outfit, highlights, a little tan, maybe a bit more blingy earrings, and as uncomfortable they are (and even MORE uncomfortable with children) I I’ll force myself into heels if that means “cute” has left the building.
The problem is: I became obsessed with myself.
I’ve been on a journey to let go of my self obsession and MAYBE embrace “cute” (people, that was a strong maybe at this point). I couldn’t put Margot’s book down because every page I found myself saying; “Yes!” My heart cried out with every word. In her book she explores the idea that our bodies weren’t created necessarily to be “viewed”. In other words, the pressure is off for me to have to be a sex-goddess. I wasn’t even created to be “cute” (that thrills me even more!) She challenges that when our eyes are freed up from being glued to ourselves, they can turn to where they are supposed to be fixed: on others.
Brilliant. THAT I can do. However, it’s been harder than I thought. It’s hard to let go of the self obsessing. You’d think I LIKE it the way I seem to hold onto it. It takes discipline to walk into a room and not think about what I’m wearing, or “did the wind completely wreck the hour I just spent on my hair?”, and focus on others in the room who deserve my undivided attention.
“Though we long to be found attractive, we were made to notice others” (Margot Starbuck)
It doesn’t mean forgetting yourself completely. I mean, we don’t want you leaving the house forgetting to get dressed now do we?! It’s a fine line between taking good care of ourselves – which I strongly believe we should do – and heading towards the blinding road of obsession that keeps us from being the lovers of people we were meant to be.
Today, will you join me in this shift of focus?
(oh and get the book! Culture Rebel Approved and revolutionary!)