I've likely ticked you off in one of two ways.
If you're a fan of those holiday gift guides, I'd like to introduce you to the suggestion I received from one of our spa vendors. You're gonna love it:
Because nothing celebrates the joy of God incarnate like telling someone their neck sag is a problem.
2019, you guys.
It doesn't have to be this way.
A few months back I was unloading groceries in the Parent Room on 4 Henson (the hematology-oncology unit) at Children's Mercy. It's something we do weekly and if you've ever requested a donation from Milagro and I've declined, this is why (reason #1 I've ticked people off). Through our 24/7/365 partnership with Supporting Kids Foundation, we keep the two Parent Rooms on the wing stocked with fresh food so the families, whose children are often admitted unexpectedly and for long stays, have access to something resembling a home kitchen. Because, well, you know, hospital food.
I tell you this not to toot our own horn(s?) but to A) give more details about why we don't donate to many other causes and B) because this background was necessary to understand this story. On we go....
On that particular day while I loaded the fridge, a mom folded tiny socks and tiny pajamas from the laundry. I don't know the details of her story, but the circumstances allow assumptions. The television, rambling on in the background, was tuned to E! or some other facepalm broadcasting station and as we worked, I heard a female voice from the TV proudly announce, "I've probably spent, um, I don't know, $400,000 on elective plastic surgery?"
Have you ever felt embarrassed on behalf of humanity? I wanted to throw up. I couldn't look that mom in the eye.
I had a feeling of complicity I couldn't shake.
A couple weeks later, trying on dresses for my sister's wedding, I deep frowned at the mirror and huffed a bit. The low neckline showed the skin on my chest. The tiny black tattoo spots from radiation. The mottled, crepe-y texture from five weeks of daily burn. "Yuck", I thought. Then shame I felt. Then anger.
I liked the dress. I was ashamed of my skin. And then I was ashamed I was ashamed. And then I was angry.
I had bought the story, too.
I had been convinced that my skin, my delicate and durable lifelong shield that covered me and fought for me while radiation was beamed through it to kill cancer, was somehow wrong.
I briefly heard my skin respond as Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, seething "I have neither the time, nor the inclination to explain myself, to a (wo)man who rises and sleeps, under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then QUESTIONS THE MANNER IN WHICH I PROVIDE IT. I’d rather you just said ‘thank you’, and went on your way."
Got it, Jack.
I haven't gone to the lengths of $400k in surgery, but if I let myself follow the trail of my shame thoughts, TV gal and I believed the same thing: we need fixed.
Count me as a reluctant but obedient cog in the half-a-trillion dollar "your body/skin/hair is wrong" beauty industry. (That's $532,000,000,000 if you needed those zeros for full effect.)
I will never be proud of my cog-ness. Because here's the ultimate kicker -
The conclusion I reach at the end of my shame-thought-trail is this: apparently I believe that a certain type of body/skin/human is more valuable than another (mine). What else would compel me to spend time/energy/dollars in an attempt to alter my inconsequential appearance? I don't want to be a person who believes this.
I'm incapable of viewing "beauty" as harmless fun for women. I've stood at the Maker Counter too many times and listened to valuable souls talk about their own appearance in ways that make my stomach hurt. Nothing harmless or fun about it.
So if you've wondered why we've stopped selling skin care or other "fix you" products (reason #2 I've ticked people off), this is why. While I fight for my own personal freedom from cog-ness, I sure as hell won't let Milagro be a cog. And if I truly want Milago to "remind you who you are and what's important", the $530 billion dollar voice gets no say here.
If you're wondering, yes, I bought the dress, low neckline and all.
And I smiled, with my sister Allison-the-bride and my sister Stephanie-in-the-wheelchair, who's been reminding me for 42-years that no body/face/skin/person is more valuable than another.