Tuesday, September 20, 2011


"Nothing that matters has really changed." —Dr. Karen *

I flip through a collection of school photos, the once-a-year images of me. I am drawn to the confident, happy 5th grader. And pained by the 6th grader stripped of the easy confidence of childhood. I stop to write.

The ill-at-ease student in wire-rim glasses is not the target of overt abuse, but the quibbling images of beauty and the uncertainty of adolescence. She is pelted by television advertising for Barbie and Enjoli. She dreams about the romantic movie embrace of a guy she can look up to, while treading water in a pool of beauty defined as "not you" by half her classmates – middle-school boys who are shorter than her.

The 6th grader begins slouching to make herself less noticeable, to fit in with her peers. She is self-conscious about her smile, the way her front teeth are malformed. She survives the discussion with Mom and Dad about her choice not to smile in her school photo. She knows there will be no re-take.

I return to the pile of photos, find the one for the 7th grader.

The wire-rim glasses are gone and she is smiling. Her middle-class mid-American parents somehow found the resources to pay for cosmetic dentistry. She's given up on Barbie and discovered a world of boys outside her classmates. Her crush on Donny Osmond is flourishing and she is embracing the Enjoli promise.

She can do it all.

Today, I read the blog of a friend, and find treasure. Nothing that matters has really changed. The 5th grader collected pennies for UNICEF at Halloween. She ate rice during lent and her family gave the money saved on groceries to the church, for the orphans in Africa. The smiling 5th grader lives on inside me. She is the faithful one who believes: Yes! We can change the world.


* Dr. Karen, Life that Matters

p.s. A quick Google search revealed Donny Osmond is 5'8" – that's 3" shorter than me. I laughed.



Christina Rambo said...

This is so great...that is all.

Rw said...

gotta love the fashions