A couple years ago I was in Birmingham for the Girls of Grace tour and a really cool thing happened. It had to do with a five-year-old’s squishy bottom, and a girl in an orange shirt…
During my “More Than a Number” talk at GOG, I often shared about my past eating disorder, how my eating issues were triggered by feeling like a “zero”, and how I’ve learned that no external number can resolve my internal desire to know that I matter.
It’s a struggle most of us face – a deep, unmet (and often unspoken) need to know we have value beyond cultural measures.
Near the end of my talk, I would share the fun picture of my daughter Sophia you see here. As you can probably tell, this sassy little thing is completely comfortable in her body. I can’t take full credit for that, of course, but I have been pretty intentional over the years about helping build a positive body image in her.
For starters, Sophia has the most deliciously squishy booty which I love to squeeze. “I luuuuuuv your bottom!” I tell her enthusiastically, pretty much every day. Next, I’ll rub her soft, round belly. “One day you’re gonna have a baby in there!” Then I’ll squeeze her legs and tell her “God gave you strong legs to walk and run.” Playing this little game always makes Sophia smile. “I love that you smile with all your teeth!” I tell her, and she smiles even bigger.
After we “celebrate” her body, I always ask her this question: “Sophia, do you know why I love you?” She used to say, “because of my bottom…?” since she knows I take such delight in squeezing it all the time.
“No,” I tell her. “As much as I love all the parts of your body, what I love most is that there is only one you. If something were to happen to you, no amount of money in the whole wide world would ever make it possible to replace you. There is only one you, and that is what makes you special.”
So what does a girl in a purple bathing suit have to do with a girl in an orange shirt?
When I would share this part of the story at Girls of Grace, I always turned to the audience as I spoke, picking out a girl or two and saying directly to them, “There is only one you. That is what makes you special.” I never planned ahead for who I would say it to – it would just be whoever my eye happened to land on.
That particular day, my eye went to a girl in a peach/orange colored shirt. As I said the words to her, she looked around to see who I was talking to. “I’m talking to you, girl in the peach/orange shirt,” I told her from the stage. Finally, she nodded to indicate she understood SHE was the target of my words.
Afterward, a mom excitedly pulled me aside. “The girl in the orange shirt is my daughter,” she said. “Just this morning she was complaining about the size of her butt. Then you told that story and called her out to tell her she was special!”
I got chills as she said it. It was another “proof of God” moment. That girl, that morning, needed a word just from God to her, and he used me, completely unaware of his plan, to give it.
“God loves your butt,” I told the girl at the end of the day. We both smiled and laughed a little at the potential sacrilege of such a statement. But then we agreed it had to be true. He created it, after all.