This poem is the epitome of young life.
From the time we hit twelve all the way into our forties, we’re unsatisfied with ourselves. We always look at those around us and wish we were more like them. We spend hundreds of dollars on makeup each year to look more “beautiful”. We spend hours of our time bashing other women (or men) whom we think are more attractive than we are. We spend countless amounts of energy thinking of how we can change ourselves to be more “perfect.”
But in reality, what’s wrong with who we are?
Are the images we view ourselves as really so ugly that we have to spend every waking moment wondering why we can’t be prettier, or skinnier, or more outgoing?
We all have flaws, and that’s ok; good actually. But when it gets to the point that we can’t find anything to love about ourselves, there’s a problem. For you women reading this, I bet you wonder why you can’t be as pretty as someone else you know. Have you ever considered that they might be thinking the same thing when they look at you? We underestimate ourselves. We think that in order to be beautiful we have to be perfect. And this can sometimes be true, but it all really depends on the eye of the beholder.
We all evaluate ourselves based on one and only one ground for comparison: society.
Society thinks that women need to be skinny (like 110 pounds skinny) in order to be sexy, but in truth women were made to have curves. When Marilyn Monroe was the reigning queen of pop culture, she was considered the most important sex symbol out there; she still is. And was she skinny? No, she had (and flaunted) beautiful curves and chubbiness that woman now would probably detest about themselves. Society also thinks that women need to wear makeup in order to look beautiful. I’m not saying wearing makeup is wrong, I wear it myself, but sometimes it gets to the point where a woman can’t even step out of her bedroom without makeup or she gets embarrassed. And when you put on foundation and mascara and eyeliner what do you say? That you’re getting “made up”; in other words you’re making yourself fake. Makeup, and all the other things society tells us we need in order to be perfect, makes you someone you aren’t.
We need to learn to be ourselves. Not that girl down the street, not the girl in your class, not the girl on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.
This is where Shel Sivlerstein’s amazing poem comes in (he’s one of my absolute favorite poets):
“She had blue skin // And so did he // He kept it hid // And so did she // They searched for blue // Their whole life through // Then passed right by // And never knew.”
I find this poem so incredibly powerful.
He’s saying that you cannot, I repeat cannot, hide your so-called “imperfections” because those are what make you who you are. Not that girl down the street, not the girl in your class, not the girl on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.
And this also relates to not only skin-deep beauty, but the stuff beneath that skin; the stuff that makes up who you really are. Whether you’re a Christian living in a highly liberal community, a quiet person living in a society of extraverts, or someone who just can’t stop chewing their nails (Ha! I’m all about that life), you can’t be ashamed of these things. The people who love you absolutely adore those things about you.
They don’t want you to change yourself to fit society’s standards; why should you want to change yourself?
Those things you define yourself as, a Christian or an introvert or a nail-biter, they’re important to you. It doesn’t matter what other people think about you; you have to live how you feel like you should live, do the things you think are important for you to do, look the way you want to look.
And for you blue-skinned people out there… take off that mask.