Today in the south it was glorious! After a long couple weeks of wet and cold we finally had sunshine and 70+ degree weather. I work at large university so I took the opportunity today to get out on campus for the first time in months. I threw on shorts and a t-shirt and headed out to walk my lunch off.
Campus was buzzing, young adults everywhere on bikes, skateboards, walking, and just leisurely sitting around soaking up the sun. The smiles on their faces put a smile on my face.
Today’s weather traded boots and leggings for shorts and sandals, hoodies and sweaters exchanged for crop tops and tanks, it looked like spring had arrived to the inhabitants of campus.
I walked the sidewalks dodging and weaving through ‘kids’ with backpacks and text books trying my best to keep a good pace to actually burn some of the Chick fil-A calories I had earlier. I stalled behind a young woman, she was super trendy rocking ripped skinny jeans and a loose floral crop top with a front tie, it was slightly above her skinny jeans — just enough to allow a small amount of her abdomen to show. She was a beautiful plus size, she had a similar shape as my own body. I thought she looked lovely, I thought she was wearing that outfit with every ounce of confidence I never had — she stood tall and walked with assurance. As she was walking she began to fiddle with her phone completely unaware I was approaching behind her. We were coming upon a lawn of students standing in groups, hanging out by the Student Union. It was impossible to pass her without hurling myself into the crowds, so I stayed steady behind her waiting for my chance to pass.
I caught a small group of three young women noticing her as we approached. They too had traded their sweaters for tanks. All of them were thin, beautiful, and stood with every ounce of confidence as the plus size young woman they were staring down. I watched them watch her, I watch them appear to judge her, eventually I came upon them just a few feet after the young woman I was trailing and I caught the tail end of their judgement. I caught hurtful words and mocking tone between them about this beautiful young woman in her crop top and skinny jeans.
I was angry. I wanted to snap around and say something snarky to those three women. I watched the young lady walk on, she kept walking in confidence, I don’t know if she noticed them, I don’t know if she heard, but she walked on — owning her place in this world. I walked on saying nothing to those women. I thought about those three women and how disappointed I would be if they were my daughters.
I thought about how confident the young woman in the floral crop walked and how I would want my daughters to exemplify her. How do I make sure I teach my daughters to always walk with confidence like that young lady? How do I teach them to be proud of who they are regardless of their size, regardless of if others think their size is beautiful? How do I teach them that your size does not dictate the right to wear certain clothing? How do I MAKE SURE my girls are not those women standing on the sidelines in judgement of someone who doesn’t fit their ideal of perfection?
I can’t tell you I figured it out in the rest of my walk. I know I want to instill inclusion in my daughters. I want my daughters to know that women, no matter their size, have the right to dress in a way that makes them feel confident in themselves, confident in their place with Christ, and confident in a crowd of the world’s ideal of perfection. I want to raise compassionate, considerate girls in a world full of mean ones. Maybe if all mothers made that vow eventually one day there would be no women with judgmental stares and harsh words standing on the sidelines.
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