I think about that line a lot. Sometimes it’s in the literal sense of how people compare their bodies to others and sometimes it’s more in how we get down on ourselves because of others’ accomplishments and attention. It all ties together.
It’s true that I have been thin all my life. And I have pretty much been 5’10” since the 4th grade. I was the textbook definition of awkwardly scrawny, and still have a knobby knee complex that is truly ridiculous. Because I tried to eat at least a little bit healthy in school, skipping the unidentifiable parts of high school lunches and going for salads instead, people assumed I was on diets and accused me (light-heartedly? playfully?) of being anorexic. (The still-clinging habits I adopted to try and prove people wrong are a whole other story!)
It’s taken me a long time to realize the fact that most of my life people have demonstrated that it’s ok to say things to each other like, “I hate you; you’re so skinny.” And it’s “ok,” because people think it’s a compliment. People think that phrases like that actually make someone feel good about themselves. People think in that sense that if they put themselves down it will boost others up.
It’s completely inappropriate to talk to someone in that manner if they’re overweight, so why on earth is it ok to accuse someone of being under weight? (And furthermore, when the heck did it become a compliment to tell someone you hate them??)
What’s the message learned from that? “Shine too bright and you’ll make others around you feel bad about themselves.” Ouch. No one wants to do that. Most people would rather hold themselves back than risk hurting other people and somehow the guilt is lessened if we diminish our light and keep ourselves down.
We need to fix this, in a big way. We need a new model (take that as you will!). As best I can figure it out we are all here to be as happy as we possibly can, and you know what? Joy is beauty! When we shine our brightest, when we do our best, when we follow our dreams, when we take care of ourselves, when we tell, and show, the world that we are in love with who we are, we help teach others how to do the same. That’s what the world needs. That’s a remarkable gift we can give each other.
You are here to shine, with a light that is yours and only yours. The world would not be the same without it.