You might be shocked by this but Barbie…yeah…she’s not my friend. To be completely honest…I don’t like her very much. In fact…I have actually said the words…”Barbie represents everything that is wrong with our society.”…and maybe something else a time or two that’s not very nice in terms of her being a skinny something-or-other. When Emalynn got her first Barbie doll from a relative (who assumed understandably that every female ages 3 and up in America loves Barbie) at Christmas a few years back my heart sank to the floor. I…in no way…wanted her to EVER have a Barbie. Why in the world do we subject our precious, beautiful little girls to the ideal of “perfection” in such an unrealistic way? You might wonder…how could someone with a passion for fashion NOT adore Barbie? Well…let’s see…for starters she is after all tall, thin and blonde…the exact opposite of me. A little background might be required here.
I decided at the ripe old age of 10 (going on 25 and much to my mother’s dismay) that I was SO over Barbies. My sister however was 3 years younger. She begged me to play with her everyday. My favorite “Barbie” was Midge…the redhead with freckles and big hair (shocking!)…so when I played Barbies…because I had to humor my sweet little sister (I just couldn’t tell her ‘no’)…Midge totally rocked. This is how Midge rolled. She owned the TV station (where her younger sister Barbie worked), the fitness club, the baseball team, AND an authentic Richard Petty number 43 racecar…oh…and she was married to Ken (can you say sugar mama?). When Barbie wanted to race in her pink Corvette, guess who always won? Midge! When Barbie wanted to shop…guess who paid? Midge! Uh-huh…Midge was a capitalist…and very smart. Some called her ugly…and if she is…then so am I! Bring it Barbie!
Alright…so maybe I have a little bit of resentment…but really…why in the world do we glorify Barbie? While I try to take what the Lord gave me, this 1 body I have and honor him by looking my best everyday I certainly do not strive for physical perfection. I have to be anorexic and work out 3 times a day to be at best a size 6…and I’m 5’1″! I have to take those ideal BMI numbers and throw them out the window or I would never eat anything but lettuce…trust me…there was a time in my life I did it and it wasn’t fun…and far from healthy. For someone who worked hard for everything…from grades to career to a healthy weight…I just didn’t understand…why does everything have to be based on merely what we look like? Can’t we have beauty and brains? It’s funny though…for a long time…Barbie and I…we weren’t so different.
I went to see a movie with my sister last year and saw the preview for a new show on ABC Family about 3 teenage girls who were trying to cover up the truth about the death of one of their friends to protect themselves. The title was “Pretty Little Liars”. Much like my view of Barbie I didn’t think this was at all appropriate to subject young girls to…it certainly didn’t sounds like a “family” show to me but more of a Desperate Housewife type drama for adults. Yikes! That title stuck in my head though because, like my favorite pair of shoes, it fit me quite well. I had been a pretty little liar for quite a while and at the time I had no intention of blowing my cover.
I wasn’t trying to hide the truth about someone’s death or anything so what I was covering up wasn’t so bad, right? I was just covering up my intense and severe pain with things like shoes and designer labels…that’s okay, isnt’ it? I mean we all have to get dressed everyday anyway…why not look good? I learned really quickly that I could fool everyone…and I mean everyone…by looking great on the outside and with a wonderful husband and adorable children and a viable, successful career no one would ever guess I felt terrible on the inside…didn’t I have it all? The best of both worlds? They wouldn’t ask questions, they wouldn’t judge or have pity, and they would think I had it all together. Guess what…it worked like a charm!
What I didn’t realize was that lying is lying…no matter how you do it…or how insignificant it seems. When I would answer the questions of “How are you?” with “Great…how are you?”…I was lying through my teeth because I felt horrible but I didn’t want anyone to know. Who could understand? Why would they care? Would they judge me thinking “Wow…what did she do to get a lot like that in life?” Besides…nobody wants to hear my woes. If I talked about my pain as much as it bothers me, it would be all I talk about. Who wants to hang around with Debbie downer? I am a glass half full kind of girl! It’s a whole lot easier to put on a plastic smile…like Barbie…and hide the pain rather than wear it on my sleeve.
Since the Lord opened the flood gates on December 26 and I told my story about pain and hope and truth in front of thousands of people I have come clean. Now when asked how I am I really try to be honest and think about the question before I answer it. Most of the time when people ask how I am feeling I say “Okay” because it’s the truth. If I’m having a bad day, I just flat-out say it. If I can’t do something, or be somewhere I simply don’t…where before I would have moved heaven and earth in order not to let someone down so they wouldn’t question why. I don’t want to over-dramatize my pain or take advantage of it or showcase it…but it is real and it is always there and a part of who I am whether I like it or not. To pretend it doesn’t exist is pointless and leaves me trying to cover it up with fabulous shoes and handbags, which by themselves are not bad things…but the temptation to indulge in superficial things to make myself feel better emotionally instead of relying on the Lord is always there. I was, in essence, Barbie…my nemesis…polar opposties made one in the same by dire, devastating circumstances.
I have the girliest girl in the universe and Emalynn was just dying to have Barbies. I have therefore had to make my peace with Barbie even though I wouldn’t call her a friend…frenemy maybe? So, for Christmas I bought Ema a Barbie that looked as much like Mommy as possible…a stylish redhead AND a collection of 18 pairs of fabulous shoes! “Jen” has her own shoe room in Emalynn’s doll house! Now that is my kind of Barbie! And it’s ironic that our daughter is off the charts for height and barely 50% for weight with the bluest of eyes and only in the dead of winter months is she slightly strawberry blonde…not much of that from came from my genes.
I don’t believe I need to wear yoga pants, a hoodie and have my hair in a scrunchie…yes…I said scrunchie…with no makeup all the time because that’s how I feel inside everyday. Wearing a burlap sack is not the answer…being real from the inside out is. Finding true joy and peace in the midst of constant suffering minute-by-minute is the answer. I have to trust and believe that God has a purpose for all of this because without that hope I would be driven to drugs and designers I’m telling you…and I know because I’ve done it! Like last week when I was really feeling badly and sad because my wonderful husband was out-of-town on business I was SO tempted to head to the mall and “look” at shoes (yeah, right). The Lord really spoke to me. He created such a beautiful day for me and my children to enjoy…so that is what we did instead! I am so thankful for His presence in my life because while shoes and labels are fine, they will not last, and they do not bring true peace and joy…and I’ve found it is really easy to be a pretty little liar with a plastic smile when everyone is looking at my feet instead of into my eyes!