The other day my husband and I were shopping at a local store. As we were paying, I noticed that there was a yellowed newspaper article under the glass covering the counter. It was about three sisters and their store. It included a picture of the three of them. So I said, “You are in business with your sisters?” She laughed and said “Oh, you recognize me, huh?” After we joked about whether she still actually talks to her sisters, she pointed to the picture and said, “She’s the pretty one, I’m the smart one, and she’s the youngest”.
I actually thought that she was pretty. Maybe even prettier than the sister in the picture. She was also funny and really nice. But interesting how we identify and label people. How did those labels landed on them? What about the youngest sister? What other qualities does she have?
We do this all the time, possibly more to ourselves even than other people. Do you find yourself saying you’re lazy because you spent a little extra time in bed this morning? Supporting your body and honoring your needs isn’t lazy. At dinner the other night my mom said she was making a pig of herself while finishing the vegetables on her plate. News flash…nourishing your body with healthy food is not being a pig! Think about how often you say these things to yourself.
And what about our kids? I know a little boy who is “busier” and more of a challenge to his parents than his “easier” older siblings. They frequently say how “bad” he is. From where I stand he is so smart that he is bored and because of that gets in “trouble”. I wonder if he would have been the first-born would their perspective be different? Would he have set the standard and then the siblings following him would be called “quiet” or some other label?
Growing up when my step-sisters would play with my toys they frequently got broken. Because of this I didn’t want them to play with my toys. My step-mom called me selfish. As you might imagine, being labeled as selfish didn’t feel good. It may have followed me into adulthood and I may have at times overcompensated for that by being generous when I wasn’t the best idea.
The words we use…the labels we apply to our to ourselves and others matter. Remember the movie “The Help”? Viola Davis kneels down in front of the little girl, making sure she is at her level, looks her in the eye and tells her she is kind, smart and important.
So let’s all do this together…stand in front of the mirror…look yourself straight in the eye…you are smart…you are pretty…you are important.