A couple of weeks ago I volunteered in my son’s class for his winter-break party. I was manning the cookie decorating table, trying to take deep breaths and not freak out about the food coloring in the frosting and sprinkles. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not great at these kinds of things. The fact that I’m a rather hands-off parent and refuse to dictate whether or not the kids can eat both of their cookies during the party or not tends to make the Type A moms lose their cool with me. C’est la vie.
Anyway, as I was elbow deep in cookie frosting and doing my best to contain the mess to the table, another mom approached to me to join in the fun. I’ve seen her around the school for years, though I’ve never had the opportunity to chat with her. We smiled at each other, made a little small talk, and resumed our corralling of the overly sugared 10-year-olds.
Eventually, I fell into the same trap I have fought so hard against for years: Comparing myself to her. I stood there with my three-baby-belly protruding, crows feet crinkling, thick thighs straining against my jeans and thought, “How can I be the same creature as her?” Her with her size zero jeans, her Barbie waist, her perfectly plump breast and lip implants. How were we even of the same species? It felt laughable, except no part of me was laughing.
I bushed away the yuckiness of my self loathing and didn’t think about it again until just this past week. When I remembered that day, and the feelings of worthlessness resurfaced as I recounted all the ways I didn’t measure up to that other mom, I knew I needed to learn how to love myself despite being so different from the beauty standard she so perfectly exemplified.
It hit me all at once. The reality was so simple, the truth so glaringly obvious, it had been elusive in its revelation.
We were not the same.
And that’s OK! It’s more than OK. It’s WONDERFUL! I am not her, she is not me, we are our own divine, amazing, beautiful creatures. I don’t have to be the same as she is to be beautiful, to be special, to be valuable or to be loved. Being me, just as I am, is beautiful, special, valuable and lovable. Her being her is beautiful, valuable, special and lovable. One does not cancel out the other. Her beauty doesn’t not cancel out mine.
Bombshells, that is reality. None of us, not a single one, is or can be the same as the woman standing next to us, and we don’t need to be, I don’t need to be, to recognize the beauty in ourselves.