“Mommy, why do you have hairy arms?” Says my three year old son to me yesterday. Actually it sounded more like, “Mommy why are yus ams have hairs on dem?” (Somewhere along the line he developed somewhat of a British accent. We are not sure exactly where it came from, but we like it.)
Who would have thought that such an innocent question from my son could spiral me directly back into junior high. I have always hated my arm hair. I mean like for real! When I was 10 I used to dread summer when I knew I would need to wear short sleeves again. And then I would pray for the moment when the sun finally tinged the hair enough that it didn’t look so brown and noticeable. Can you imagine this? Going through fear and trembling on a yearly basis dreading when the snears and the jeers would come in the form of, “Like ew! Your arms are so hairy!”
So fast forward back to present time. I have a unique opportunity to try and teach my kids about the unimportance of “hairy armness.” Deep breathes Maria, deeeeep breathes. My daughter then chimes in with the timely comment, “Look I have hair on my arms too. But they are little.” Then I got one of those Mommy moments. The kind when you just download into your brain a “no duh” thought that should have been there to begin with, but your own insecurities and fears got in the way. Hairy arms are no big deal to them. The world has not gotten to them yet. Let’s try to keep it that way.
Here they are. The three truths I realized about hairy arms (and other such small body features that every one seems to hate about themselves):
#1 As for me and my home, making fun of or jeering at other people’s physical traits is an offense that goes right up there with lying, stealing, and hitting. All the teens in our youth group know it, “fat” is a cuss word at our house and so is any other comment that makes fun of the way someone looks. My husband and I had a moment during this encounter with our kids. He looked at me with that little devilish grin and wanted to say “Yup kids! You got those hairy arms from your mother’s Italian side of the family!!” Lucky for him my look of death stopped him dead in his tracks. When did making fun of and criticizing people just become a rite of passage? We are all guilty of it. It is NOT okay and it will never be okay, in any form, as we are raising our kids. We may not be able to control what other people will say to our children as they grow up, but we can at least raise them to know that there is no such thing as a “make funable” physical trait. Never.
#2 We will challenge the things they can change and overwhelmingly breathe confidence into the things they cannot. Let’s be clear, behavior is always changeable. We are all born with things about us that we need to constantly work on. I appreciate it when people I trust challenge me to be better, encourage me to never accept the status quo. But my goodness, there are some things we cannot change. If you were born bow legged, big eared, hairy armed, short, tall, or big toed…that is who you are. There should be no “bad” or “good” column for any of those characteristics. So NO hairy arms are not bad! And I don’t care about them anymore! And as a Mom if I can do one thing, just ONE THING for my kids it will be to help them not care either. I might fail. Some kid will come along in third grade and go “nanni nanni boo boo” and change their whole world…but that won’t stop me from actively fighting.
#3 I will not shelter them from this world, but I sure will tell the world off right in front them! This country that we live in continues to make me so mad on a daily basis when it comes to outward appearances. We say with our mouths that there is no one way to be beautiful and campaigns are even starting to try and stop photo touching in magazines…but our media, actions, and attitudes have a long way to go! We have literally been set up to fail and I am mad about that. We cannot avoid it, it is on our front porch, in our homes, and in our schools. No, we cannot avoid it but we should call out a liar when we see one. We should let our family and friends see us get angry when a lie gets thrown into our face as if it is truth. All we can do is be intentional right? We will never be perfect, but we can always be intentional.
There is one story in the Bible when Jesus got mad. It is one of my favorite stories because it reminds me that there are certain things that warrant getting angry over.
Mark 11:15-17 “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Can’t you picture it?? Jesus went in and started cleaning up house! He knocked down tables, threw off all their merchandise, and literally kicked them out the door! Now that doesn’t seem very “nice” does it? I don’t think Jesus was concerned with “nice,” they were mucking up His Father’s house.
WE are His house now. Our bodies, our lives, we are His Temple. Rest assured that robbers still want to set up shop. To which I say, “Jesus you are always welcome to come turn some tables over!”
I wonder, what is that one “unfixable” physical characteristic you have always hated about yourself? What has helped you come to love it?