Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover? It's Not That Simple...

I've been doing a lot of thinking since yesterday's post.  Thank you to those who lent me their wisdom.  It truly helped me to hear your opinions and input.  Here's what I've been thinking...

Over the many years that I've spent as a large woman, I have conditioned myself to pay very little attention to my physical appearance.  I've always tried to make myself look as good as possible by having a nice hairstyle and learning how to apply make-up in a flattering way.  But I never truly considered myself attractive.  Carrying around 200 extra pounds robs you of more than your physical health; it also steals your self esteem.  I've discovered, though, that it also alters how you view the world - well, at least it did for me. 

As a big girl, my first thought of how others view me is by my weight.  The first and most obvious thing that people probably noticed about me is how large I was.  And I think that's what my colleague was so stunned about yesterday...why she had so much difficulty seeing that it was truly me.  She remembered my size.  Not my great hair...not my nice smile...or my pretty eyes...or any of the other things my wonderful friends pointed out to me in those pictures from yesterday's post that might have identified me to her.  She remembered my size, and because it's very different now than it was 2 years ago, she had trouble seeing me, even though I was standing right in front of her.

Judging a book by it's cover?  Yes.  Easy to do?  Absolutely!  Unfair?  Maybe. Unrealistic?  No. 

After giving this a lot of thought, I think it's just too easy to say "Don't judge a book by it's cover," and hope that everyone who meets us is going to spend the time to get to know who we really are and make their judgements based on that, rather than by our looks.  It's just not that simple.  Fair or not, people remember the most prominent feature we have...whether its our hair color, piercings, tattoos, our height...or our weight.  If you asked anyone a few years ago to describe me to someone who hadn't met me, they may have used a nice term like "heavy-set",  but since my weight was my most prominent identifying feature, I'm pretty certain that's how I would have been described.

I think it's our human nature to make our first impression of someone based on what we see of them.  The sad part of that is if we allow that to be our ONLY impression of them because of some preconceived notion we have about size.  I wonder how many relationships I've missed out on over the years because of that? 

I hope that once people get past my size they understand that I am so much more than that.  Who I really am has nothing to do with how big I am...OR how little I'm becoming...and I want people to remember me for what REALLY defines me...not how tall or short I am...not whether my hair looks good or needs a trim...not whether I'm wearing stylish clothes or old not.  I want them to remember that I'm caring, kind, smart, happy, positive, upbeat...but to do that, they've got to spend time getting to know me.  They have to be willing to look beyond the cover...and I am responsible for doing something to entice them to do that, I think.

It's very true that I have more confidence in my appearance now.  I'm approaching "normal"ish sizes and don't always feel like I'm the biggest girl in the room anymore.  I dress differently because I'm not as worried as I used to be about people mocking my appearance if I wear certain styles of clothing that big girls probably should not wear.  I take more time to make sure my make-up looks good when I go out because I like feeling more attractive.  I do this because it feels good to me, but honestly, also because I want people to notice me now.  Not out of vanity...and I've really thought about that long and hard's far more than that.  I want them to notice me so that they'll stick around and get to know me better.  I want to be able to tell them what God's doing in my life and encourage them that He can and will do it in theirs, too.  I want them to want to know the REAL me.

So, all this is to say that my opinion is we ALL judge books by their covers...or more properly stated, we judge people by their outward appearances.  The wisest among us, though, understand that we need to look much deeper to make an accurate assessment of a person.  If someone doesn't recognize me now because my outer appearance is greatly changed, to me it means that he or she never really took the time to know who I really am.  Because that person is still in me.  She's a lot more confident now...but she's still right here.  Just look a bit closer!

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