In middle school, appearances are everything. The way you look, the way you don’t look, your height, weight, even hair style; every item down to your choice of shoes is judged.
We all had at least one issue back in those days. I had one that seemed to stick out among the rest. My nose.
Of all things to be insecure about I chose the one thing I had absolutely no control over.
My nose is pointy like my father’s and a bit wide like my mother’s. Both of my parents have a beautiful nose, but when you toss the two together and put a little bump on top, you get a snout that is my nightmare.
I was jealous of my sister’s nose; perfectly pointed with just the right amount of flare. Why did I have to suffer with such an oddity?
During Christmas break in 1993 I tried to reduce its size. Each night for more than a week I gently placed a clothespin on my nose and hoped for a miracle.
It didn’t work, but it did leave lovely red marks on each side and obviously obstructed my breathing. When I finally realized there wasn’t much I could do to change it, I moved my focus to something I could fix.
I didn’t give my best smile until those pearly whites were finally straightened during my sophomore year of college. Luckily for me, I don’t recall anyone making fun of my nose or my teeth.
I damaged my self-esteem all on my own.
Unfortunately, some kids get their confidence bashed through their own words and also the words of others. I already noticed it happening to my 4-year-old. But she wasn’t receiving the criticism; she was giving it.
Recently a boy in her daycare class showed up with new glasses. All the kids were saying how cool those glasses looked, except for Ella. She got quite a chuckle out of his spectacles, which, of course, made her daycare friend very upset.
“Ella. Why did you make fun of your friend?” I asked upon hearing the news. “Mama wears glasses, and I would feel bad if you said those words to me.”
“Mama, boys aren’t supposed to wear glasses. Only girls wear glasses. He’s my friend. I didn’t want to make him sad,” Ella added.
Once I heard her explanation it made sense. She watches me put on my glasses each night and obviously thought it was something only girls were supposed to do. She saw something different than the rest of her friends and concluded from a lack of understanding.
It was much like my own battle with a rather obnoxious nose.
I have a hard time understanding what everyone else already knows. My friends and family think my nose is just fine. I didn’t believe them until I saw an exact replica placed perfectly on my youngest daughter’s face. She has the sweetest little nose, perfectly pointed and perfectly round; just like the one I’ve come to know quite well over the past 30 years.
We all have our insecurities. Many times we want to look like someone else or we laugh at looks that seem to be different than what we understand. I’m going to try to teach my two girls, Ella and Gracie, something I wish I could have known long before my experiment with the clothespins.
“Ella and Gracie, when you are able to respect the differences of others and put aside your own hurtful criticism, you’ll find the one true beauty is the one who is simply happy being herself.”
I think I’ll hide the clothespins, just in case my lesson doesn’t work.
Read more from Leslie Means at her blog, www.herviewfromhome.com, and share something about your body parts that makes you insecure.