The silky green fabric flutters to the floor in a heap. I kick it to the side and peer into my closet to see if anything else looks presentable. By now, most of the contents of my closet are strewn across the floor haphazardly, and once again I stand in a thin tank top and jeans in the middle of the room. I paw through the remainder of outfits in my closet and hold a few more tops up to my body in the mirror, soon giving up and dropping onto my bed with my head in my hands, defeated. I glare at the full-length mirror, bordered by sticky notes and beads. Hot tears fill my eyes as I catch another glimpse of my fat thighs in the mirror.
It’s been forty-five minutes. I was expected to arrive fifteen minutes ago at a New Year’s Eve party. Expected to arrive looking my best, wearing my nicest outfit. No doubt we will be taking pictures at the party… and no doubt I will always be the fattest girl in every picture. And none of the tops staring back at me in that cruel mirror are doing anything to help.
I wonder if anyone will notice if I just don’t go to the party at all. Or if I do, I wonder if they will notice if I don’t snack or try the dip and have a glass of wine at midnight. Too many calories, after all. I have to be watching those.
My stomach rumbles and I remember I’ve barely eaten anything today. Okay, maybe some vegetables… but no dip.
I decide that no one will notice if I’m gone. I flop onto my back and let myself sink into the pile of silk and cotton beneath me. I sigh as the tears drip down my face.
Surely wondering why I had not left for the party yet, my father startles me as he taps on my bedroom door lightly. He tentatively opens it, and I greet him with puffy red eyes and pull myself into a sitting position, cross-legged on my bed. Hurrying into the messy room comes my closest friend, my hero, the man I can trust with anything. He clears some tops away before sitting down next to me, and I hide my miserably tear-stained face from him as he lovingly wraps his arms around me.
“Daughter.” This strong but gentle voice is one of the sweetest sounds I know. “You ought to be on your way soon, you know.”
A soft sob escapes my lips and he gently takes my chin in his strong hand. Lip quivering, I look into his gentle, reassuring eyes.
“Nothing to wear again?” He smirks, obviously finding himself amusing. I can’t help but let the corner of my mouth oblige a half-smile when I see the twinkle in his eye. That always happens when he thinks he said something funny.
I glare at the mirror, then at the heap of clothes on my floor. “Nothing looks good on me,” I mutter, fully expecting him to think it’s a ridiculous excuse.
He pulled away from me and tilted his head. “You’re telling me you don’t look good in something? Impossible.”
“It’s true, Dad!” I reach down and pick up the green silk top, slipping it on over my tank top and standing in front of the mirror. He walks over and stands behind me, looking at me over my shoulder. “See?” I shift my weight to one side and look at him with as much “I told you so” attitude as I can.
He looks at me through the reflection and smiles. “Daughter, you’re beautiful. What a lovely color on you.” His smile disappears when he gets a better look at the glass. “But wha—what’s wrong with your mirror?” I look back at it, puzzled. He walks over and slides it across the tracks a few times.
I see nothing wrong with it and I tell him so.
“No, there’s definitely something wrong with your mirror, baby. It must be warped or something.” He turns and looks at me, then back at the mirror. Then, without a word, he grabs my hand and pulls me out of my room and into his. The faint smell of his gentle cologne mixed with Mom’s sweet perfume hasn’t changed in years. He firmly takes my shoulders and positions me in front of the sturdy, beautifully carved wooden mirror he nailed to the wall years ago for Mom.
I hardly recognized myself in the reflection that stared back at me. She wasn’t fat, as I remembered, but she wasn’t deathly thin. She looked healthy. And… I noticed something else radiating from her. Happiness? Joy? This couldn’t be me.
“This is how you really look, baby girl. This is how I measure beauty. You have so much joy and warmth glowing inside of you. You are generous and loving and such a good friend. So many people look up to you for your strength and your relationship with God. Can’t you see that?” I nodded tentatively, still shocked.
“You’re sure that’s me?” I stammered. He nodded, smiling widely.
“Now go get ready for that party. While you’re gone, I’ll fix your bedroom mirror for you. But for now, you go knock ‘em dead, because you are beautiful.”
Tears filled my eyes again, but this time tears of happiness. I spun around and tackled him in a bear hug, enveloped in his arms. “I love you, Dad,” I whispered.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 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.”
1 Peter 3:3-4
“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7