This image was shared on a forum I frequently visit and to say the least it made me look twice and (amazingly) speechless.
As a plus size person I have always struggled with self image, confidence and feeling beautiful and graceful, but I have learned to see what is good enough and use that to feed my confidence with a dash of humor to help me through.
As a plus sized mommy I have had to say, even when I don't believe, that "yes I am beautiful even though I am bigger" because it is important to me to show my daughter that her beauty is not defined by a size, number or label.
Despite my best efforts and my first hand knowledge of the challenges of low self esteem, particularly from being overweight, I slipped up with my daughter BIG TIME.
See my little girl is a dancer, and a darn awesome one in this slightly biased mother's opinion, and not only does she dance for the love of it, but also with the privilege of competing with her dance company. She works hard and has grown in all areas of her life because of her dance experience. (Thank you teacher Stephanie and teacher Rachel!**)
However, dance is a tough world and it is highly competitive. Very much like any sport it requires dedication and comes with some fairly standard "type casting" so to speak. If you don't have the right build or skills for a certain position in a sport, no matter how much you want it, you aren't likely to get it. Same goes with dance....or so I believed.
And here is my "bad mommy" confession. When I looked at my daughter, her size and shape and all things considered....ballerina was NOT what I saw. Amazing dancer? Yes. Strong dancer? Yes. Graceful dancer that can bring me to tears? Yes, but not as a ballerina. Maybe in lyrical and definitely awesome in jazz, but a a ballerina, well I didn't see the typical tall-thin ballerina in my daughter. I wanted to prepare her that she should always continue to work hard, but when it comes to ballet, well ballet and her body just weren't "right." I wanted her to be able to focus on her strengths and not get her hopes up in a style that I didn't "see" her able to succeed at.
And, yes, I told her this.
Oh bad mommy. (sigh)
Moving forward.....we recently had a one on one meeting with her ballet teacher, to discuss strengths, areas to work on, etc. It was going really well and I was learning a lot about my daughter and her abilities. Then I expressed my concerns that in time she might struggle with auditions, particularly the ballet parts, because....well....she was not exactly "ballerina sized." In a rush I continued on talking about realizing she would never be an actual ballerina, again because we could all "see" it wasn't her strength, but we knew at some point she should focus on her strengths so she could utilize them best when it was time.
The teacher looked at me, smiled and politely told me "I think you are wrong." Well those were not her exact words, but in summary she felt my daughter was good in ballet and that even though I may not recognize how far she has come, she was happily impressed with her and in her opinion ballet was one her greatest STRENGTHS in dance.
I sat, appropriately, stunned into silence. Then admitted I had been "schooled" and I apologized.
Oh my. Bad mommy. How much damage had I caused by looking through my blinders, seeing only the superficial? Well considering she is young and found great humor in my being "schooled" I think we will recover, however I have no excuse....well other than the fact I am a human who is still learning.
So when I saw this picture, it again brought home the point....you really can't judge a book by its cover, nor a dancer by her "non-typical" attributes or myself by my my weight.
Grace, beauty, charm, talent, love, warmth....all these amazing attributes are not bound by a cover or size, but are inside all of us and can only be set free when we choose to see them for what they are....attributes within us, not words that define us and they are there whether we, or anyone else, can "see" them!
**If you are looking for an awesome dance school with amazing teachers check out Vibe Dance Studio in Everett, WA!