I’m embarrassed to say it, but growing up, I somehow conjured up the picture of the perfect LDS girl. She had long, straight hair, shimmering white teeth (her Dad was probably a dentist), tiny feet (yes, that was in there), wore pastel cardigans and most importantly, had a thin, straight body. She was always sweet and most likely went to BYU to take nursing or dental hygiene.
While most of this emerged from my overactive imagination, I’m sure a few pictures in the New Era and a dose of pseudo Mormon culture helped it along.
I came into the world with curly red hair and freckles to match my fiery and opinionated personality. Despite my efforts to straighten it, the second I climbed out of a pool or walked a few minutes in the rain, my curls would bounce back up. Later in life I developed a figure I did everything I could to hide. No matter what I wore, I could not hide my breasts and healthy bottom. I wanted to be cute, I wanted to be sweet, I wanted to look innocent. I got womanly. And big feet.
(That’s me, third from the right)
In my eyes, I was the antithesis of this perfect Mormon girl.
The wisdom of years is a wonderful thing and thankfully my eyes opened to this non-existent ideal. I took that glass-covered picture hung carefully in my subconscious and shattered it. I see now where believing in a mold, or in some kind of ideal, can lead to that ugly green monster envy, and that colorless monster (because it’s just such a mind-numbing way to live) inferiority complex.
I can think of two specific things that helped me understand the truth.
Praying to my Heavenly Father, connecting with Him and knowing He loves me, adores me-created me-helps me see myself and others in a new light. Understanding my divine destiny and learning to separate the beauty of the gospel from Mormon culture helps me see I don’t have to feel bad about myself all the time-or ever! It helps me see the fallacy in other kinds of molds such as The Perfect Mom, The Perfect Husband and The Perfect Number of Children.
Exercise has also been a blessing to me. Seeing what my body can do and taking care of it helps me to value and treasure it. Now, I embrace and celebrate my body and my hair, not to mention my fiery personality. Not that I don’t try to tame all three, but I love my curves and certainly am not ashamed of them. I wear what makes me feel good (read: leggings!) and let people judge me if they want. Exercise has done wonders for my self -image, and that booty just helps me lift more weight off the ground. I’m still working on loving my feet, but hey, it’s a journey.
When I first heard this quote it had a huge impact on me:
"The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony." (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin)
I use this quote every chance I get. Wow. We make up a symphony, an intricate, complexly beautiful symphony. Let us embrace each instrument, each loud and soft note, each minor and major key, each staccato and legato, each movement and mood and each beat of the drum.
Especially our own.