Wednesday, February 01, 2012

When words are more than just words

The lights are dim and the music's thumping as she enters the building.  She works her way through the crowds tightly clutching the hand of her date.  Excitement builds as they wind their way to the dance floor.  She smiles knowing the DJ will play their favorite tune and they'll soon be dancing the night away.  Bonus! She's wearing her a new pair of strappy high heeled sandals and she knows they looks good.

They stop as the couple in front of them  pauses to sip drinks and survey the dance floor. While they're waiting she sees a woman point at her feet.  She sees the woman whisper something to her friend and thinks they must be admiring her new shoes.  Until they both burst out laughing and declare loudly "look at her ugly feet!" and walk away still giggling.

Suddenly she no longer feels like dancing. She feels embarrassed. As if everyone in that crowded bar was laughing at her feet.  She stays seated most of the night with her feet tucked beneath her chair, hidden from view.  She can hardly wait to get home.

And when she does the beautiful new sandals will be placed in their box.  Where they will remain, unworn, a reminder of the cruel laughter.

Yes,  I was the young woman who was on the receiving end of that laughter.  Until that moment I hadn't given my feet much thought.  They were just feet.  And they worked pretty darn good.  They walked miles. They danced ballet. They played sports.

But that comment was just words, right?

Yes, but those words were spoken at a time in my life when I was vulnerable.  Those words caused me to look at myself in a new light.

As I looked around I realized my feet did look different from other people's feet.  My second toe is longer than my big toe.  Yikes! I thought to myself. How could I have never noticed this before.  No wonder they said my feet were ugly.  

Turns out it's actually not that uncommon - it's called Morton's Toe or the Greek Foot.  There's an interesting post about The Greek Foot on Manolo's Shoe Blog if you're interested.

But I didn't know that at the time and I allowed those words to sink deep inside and wound me. I accepted them as truth.

Whenever possible I refused to wear sandals and open toed shoes for years.  And when I did I was always uncomfortable, waiting for someone to point and laugh.  

Need some proof?  Peel off the cover of that shoe box and you'll find a pair of sandals designed for dancing the night away.   But the soles are unmarked as they never touched a dance floor.

Those words, spoken in a crowded dance club years ago, still cause me to pause when I'm out shopping for shoes.  Just ask my daughter - who tells me all the time that I'm being silly because no one cares.  And in my head I know it's true, but my heart refuses to let those words and laughter fade completely away.


They're powerful.

I'm ashamed to admit this, but yes, there were times I spoke knowing the words I choose would hurt. Yet the words still left my mouth.  And I'm sure there were times I did it unknowingly.

As I continue to learn and grow I want to use my words to encourage others, not to tear them down.

And someday I'll wear a strappy high heeled sandals and not think twice about a comment tossed my way so long ago. 

This post was written as an assignment for a fabulous online course I'm taking - Build a Blog You Truly Love aka BBTL.  It is part of a blog hop at Liv Lane's Choosing Beauty Blog. 
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