Friday, June 20, 2008

Show and tell

J usually makes use of the time going home to tell me of the events that transpired during the day. This afternoon was no exception. She mentioned that they were assigned a partner, were given a few minutes to talk and then asked to stand in front of the class to describe each other. J and her partner talked about each other's favorite things and characteristics. She was described as cheerful, among others.

She went on to tell me that one girl, looked at her partner from top to bottom, and then proceeds to say what she has observed, "she has dark skin..." eliciting a prompt rebuttal from the girl concerned, "I am not dark!" With hands on the waist and a stomp of her feet to further emphasize her absolute disapproval of that opinion, as if it were the worst thing in the world. J said the whole class erupted in laughter at this candid exchange.

Another one described her partner as chubby. Nothing wrong with that, except that I know this girl, and she is anything but chubby. She is nowhere near chubby, she is what we might call a happy medium.

From the kids' point of view, the above mentioned exchanges offers a comic relief from an otherwise boring class. But as a parent, the tongue in cheek narrative is a reflection of how appearances, and not characteristics, make a central case on how we view others and ourselves. Point is, these kids have become unknowingly influenced by our society's biased concept of beauty being synonymous with fair skin and being skinny.

Even with my own kids, it is so hard to instill in them that self worth is not based on one's looks. My 2 girls always makes a fuss when it comes to what to wear every Sunday. Always asking my approval, "Mom, do I look pretty?" And I always answer in the positive, but with a follow up, "but God looks at our hearts."

While it is important to take care of our appearance and make an effort to look good, it must be be complementary to a heart that's always centered on God.


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