All I ever wanted growing up was to feel beautiful, but I didn’t. My parents told me I was beautiful, but that wasn’t enough. I needed outside confirmation. It took a long time before I found it within.
I went to a Catholic school that was 98% white. The 2% of diversity you ask? My sister and myself. I can’t say specifically what it was about me that upset my classmates the most, (the fact that I skipped a grade, the fact that I was into theatre or the fact that I had a better tan than they did), but I was bullied emotionally-physically-mercilessly. It was really difficult to handle. I wanted desperately to be accepted, to be “normal”, but I was neither according to them, which I unfortunately internalized. The bullying occurred for my entire 4 years at that school, but it was hardest to deal with when I was 10/11 and discovering myself as a budding young woman and thus gaining interest in boys.
The junior high years of grade school are all about the boyfriend shuffle. Dating is still something that isn’t real, but it is played at with more determination. Everyone in my class was shifting amongst each other. Pairing up from one week to the next. (Which translated to hand holding and some general kissing.) It was more about status, and the affirmation that you as an individual were desirable than anything really physical. I had zero status because no one wanted to pair with me. I felt so unworthy. I put on a brave face daily and tried not to let my classmates have such abject power over me, but I was an impressionable kid with feelings that were being trampled on. As kids our school and classmates are our World. It’s hard not to be affected by such a collossal dismissal. I worked against the tide. I found solace on the stage. I went from show to show desperately in search of a more accepting peer group. I found acceptance, but it was from adults, which can only go so far, (and can also lead to trouble. But that’s another post). Of course being in theatre means that modeling was another one of my ambitions. However, I wasn’t a sellable “type” in the late 70′s early 80′s. But I still desperately wanted to be seen as beautiful. And since I couldn’t find that in the eyes of a peer, I tried to find that in the lens of a camera. A good picture in which I could see myself as beautiful could sustain me, or at least tied me over for a while. Our family friend who used to babysit me was a budding photographer, so he was kind enough to take some photos of me when I was about 10. They are hard for me to look at now because I know the desperation that was behind my eyes. (The sadness and desperation.) But at the same time I also know how incredibly important those first photos were. Now I clearly hadn’t yet mastered the art of modeling poses, but that’s not what these photos were really about. No, they were about me, for me, and of me; the me that I couldn’t see in the mirror on my own. I wish I could tell you that they solved all of my issues, they didn’t, but they definitely made a dent and helped me live to see another day.
My eldest daughter is 10. For two years she was bullied at her school without protection from her teachers or the administration. Kids made fun of her looks, saying they couldn’t see the backboard around her hair, calling her a man-saying she had a moustache. Making fun of her artistic clothing choices. It was awful. (Honestly it was worse watching her be bullied than it was being bullied myself as a kid.) She felt so unattractive. So unworthy. So “un” everything. I am happy to say that she is no longer at that school, but the echoes of the shunning still haunt her. She puts on an amazingly brave face, but I know the truth.
Now you know I take lots of pictures of my kids, but I have never taken sudo fashion shots of them before. It wasn’t necessary really. For their commercial modeling all they needed was a good headshot. But now that Kai is over 5 feet and has her braces off, there are more modeling opportunities out there for her, and her agent needs pictures. So I broke out my camera last week to take some test shots.We only did a preliminary shoot because we only had a short time to get outside with the good sun setting light. Watching my daughter page through the 51 photos that we took you would think we had shot for hours. Her eyes twinkled with each photo that flashed on the screen. She was glowing and it wasn’t just the setting sunlight, it was an inner warmth. A heart warming love for herself. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
I believe all children are beautiful, worthy human beings, but they made need some help realizing it. Put your camera where your mouth is and help your kids see the wonderful human beings that they truly are. Athletic, artistic, intelligent, beautiful human beings that are worthy off all the riches life has to offer.
Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV , Wearetherealdeal.com , YoungChicagonista , ChicagoMomsBlog , and ChicagoMoms.com. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.