Three little words…

September 30, 2016

This morning I suddenly missed the face of a woman who has been my online friend since the MySpace days of 2005. She’s a gorgeous woman, one who so surpasses what’s considered pretty that, until I got to know her better, I was confused by her habit of posting at least one selfie a day. Did she think the rest of us weren’t jealous enough already? What was it that drove her to post so many selfies? Indoor selfies, outdoor selfies, casual selfies, formal selfies…

Once we became phone/email friends, I understood her much better. As beautiful as she is, she never heard those words from the one person in her life who should have been telling her daily, hourly, every single available minute how attractive she is. Instead, he was busy tearing her down about her weight (totally within the average) or her lack of income (and whose idea was it that she be a stay-at-home mom?). He not only tore her down by what he said, he also tore her down by what he didn’t say. Those three little words: You are beautiful.

Let me jump to the good news regarding this friend. I realized today – it was a total epiphany of the happiest sort – that she stopped posting so many selfies because she no longer needs to. A man who adores the very air she breathes came into her life, and the asshat who found reasons to compare her to her teenage self and draw ungracious comparisons is a thing of the past. She’s happy now. She’s validated now. She not only feels loved, she feels beautiful. There’s no longer a need for the validation of the online masses. The person who matters most never lets her forget how beautiful she is.

It’s not a matter of being needy. I’m the single most independent woman I personally know. I’ve never been unhappy while single. I can live and have lived alone with great complacency. I have, I believe, at least average self-esteem. I don’t cringe when I look in the mirror. In fact, I have a form of body dysmorphic disorder that leans the other direction. I look good when I look in the mirror. I think I’m tall, fit, and beautiful. Only my clothing size clues me into the fact that the times, they are a’changing. I wore an 11 junior in jeans when my son was five. Now I play the brand-versus-size game. Cheap jeans? A 20. Three digit jeans? A 20. The sweet spot is jeans that cost $70 to $90 dollars – an 18 or even a 16, depending on the brand. Hey, a 16 for a woman who is almost 60 years ago is hot, right?

But that confidence fails me in the most unexpected and unhappy ways at times.

Sometimes I catch sight of myself in a surprise mirror, or in the wretched lighting of an airport bathroom, or in an unforgiving glass storefront. And I’m appalled. I admit it. I sometimes look at my reflection and wonder, who is that fat old woman? And who could possibly desire her?

It’s a wonderful thing to hear that someone loves you. But those three words when totally unaccompanied by the other three eventually grow a mental ellipsis after them. “I love you…even though you’re fat.” “I love you…in spite of how old and wrinkled and disgusting you are.” “I love you…but no one else could possibly want you.”

Men and women BOTH are prone to deflect these compliments. “No, I’m ugly!” Time after time, heartfelt compliments can be deflected.

Here’s where you need to really listen to me, even if you haven’t listened to a single word of this blog before now: Don’t give up. If he or she says, “but I’m fat”, you counter. “No, you’re perfect!” Give him or her examples of their beauty. Tell them they have beautiful eyes, or they have the most adorable feet you’ve ever seen, or their hair calls to mind poems about the stormy ocean crashing against a rocky coast. Don’t give up. Your loved one is deflecting because they need to hear why you think they are beautiful.

When a compliment finally hits home in spite of all the deflection and demurring, think of the way the color mounts into the cheeks of your loved one, the way the light sparkles in his or her amazing eyes. Isn’t it worth the trouble? No matter how many times you have to tell them they’re beautiful, isn’t it worth a little effort to see how your words cause beauty to burst forth in their face, in their eyes, in their smile? Damned straight it’s worth it. And if you give up because of an initially deflective response, then move the fuck on and let this person you claim to love find someone who isn’t so easily dissauded.

“I love you.” Cheap words.

“You’re beautiful.” That’s what you should be saying.







2 Responses to “Three little words…”

  1. luckyredhead Says:

    I love you, Debi, and you are so beautiful…inside and out, that I count our friendship among the abundance of blessings in my life. Thanks for sharing this with me. It’s the first thing I read, this October 1st, as I lie in my bed next to my sleeping lover, thousands of miles away across the Atlantic. You, my dear, are a gift to the world. xo & @->->—

  2. john drake Says:

    Oh my goodness…so long since our last communication. Last attempt on my part was rt after the tornado ripped thru your area/town….never got a response. ..assumed the worst. Thsnk goodness you’re alive and… well I hope ! As ever John

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