Monday, October 13, 2014

The Christmas Dress

Saturday night my husband and I went to the Bread Box Theater with good friends of ours. The wife of the other couple and I were sharing how we often think we look fat. Wow, what a news flash, women thinking they look fat! Never heard of such a thing. Ha Ha. She is skinnier than me. While I'm thinking I'd like her waistline, she said she's bigger than all her sisters so I shared, "I look at old photos of when I was skinny, yet at that time I felt fat. Now I wish I could get those days back!" We both shook our heads and said, "What is it with women?" I suggested it's an inner view of ourselves.

I've had some pretty negative inner views to overcome. Intellectually I understand the concept but boy is it hard work. One day I feel great, the next day I look in the mirror and say, "What happened?" Well, it takes time, patience, truth and revelation. So it takes digging, more patience, perseverance, and belief in the truth.

There are a few stories from my past that helped shape my view of myself, but I will share one. Because this is out of context, here's a synopsis to fill in some gaps. My dad was becoming an angry man and drinking regularly. Having met the other end of his hand or belt numerous times, I was already afraid of him. My shadow is my sister. I was about 8 or 9 years old. Here is an excerpt from my book.

~ The Christmas Dress ~
Guests milled around the kitchen and family room as we celebrated Christmas at Washbrook Road. Relatives, aunts, uncles and cousins made this yuletide festive. My little shadow and I each received new red dresses. A couple of ooh's and aah's insisted we try them on so some relative could capture the gift in a photo.

Dressed for display, I walked back into the kitchen where people mingled, leaning against counters. Dad laughed and blurted, “That dress makes you look fat.” Two boy cousins, who innocently mimicked their Uncle John’s lead, also laughed and told me I looked fat. That Christmas moment was forever recorded on film.

That photo reminds me I was humiliated and in front of guests. The photo revealed how one click can capture the fragile and fractured heart of a little girl desperately seeking her father’s admiration. An unexpected word, now silent in the photo, reminds me how I started to become fat and ugly through my lens of myself. The Polaroid that never fades reminds me why I never felt pretty, especially in Dad’s eyes.

lens, Christmas, Tammy Sue Willey, fat, photo, view, inner beauty,

It seems around the holidays, some people get maudlin, depressed, frustrated, anxious, or have expectations on steroids. Sometimes I wonder if that is because there is a snapshot of their life that hasn't been discovered, dug up, talked about or other? I know for me when I started going backwards and digging up stuff, it helped me to get closer to the truth of why I always felt fat and ugly. It's not about how I look on the outside, rather, it's about who I am on the inside, my self-worth.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment.... Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which is of great worth in God's sight." 
I Peter 3:3-4

By the way, digging can be messy but it can be freeing. I hate to use a cliche but some are good, like;

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

Once I discovered the root of that negative message, I had to put it in a healthy perspective and choose not to believe the lie anymore. 

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Romans 12:2

Can families have fun, tell jokes and pick on each other? Of course they can. Life would be dull without it, but balancing it with love makes a difference in the outcome. Use your common sense, you know the difference.

I've also discovered that clinging to my belief in Christ helps me to keep sifting through this kind of garbage and discard the junk one piece at a time.

With a lighter load, I ponder - will finding my inner beauty also help me view my holidays through a new lens? Perhaps a lens that is not fraught with a sense of inadequacy, but rather relaxed, simple and more celebratory of where my focus could be better served.

Do you have any old or current photos that have skewed your view, whatever that view is?


Linda Loegel said...

A heartbreaking post, Tammy Sue. Although no one told me I was fat, I DO have old pictures of me standing next to my older sister in which I was taller and heavier so it left me with a bad image of myself. Over time, I've learned to adjust to the fact that, although younger, I'm bigger than my sister.

Jeanne Doyon said...

Tammy Sue, this touches something in me - and I think you have spoken to every woman on this issue. We are truly hard on ourselves but also we get our self worth from its reflection from others.
How much more do we need to know how our Heavenly Father sees us - that that lens would get polished so it reflects the TRUTH.
Thanks for being transparent, my friend!! I am with you in this quest of who I am - but not being dependent on what others think

Tammy Sue Willey said...


Thank you for identifying with a piece of my story and sharing. Embrace that you are not your sister and our true image comes from God.

Tammy Sue Willey said...


I appreciate your insight on reflections. The battle is hard enough with our own self-talk, we certainly don't need to take on what others think. I am polishing my lens with you my friend. Thank you for your honesty.