On many Thursday afternoons I can be found at Casa Chirilagua, a non-profit faith-based afterschool program in a Latino neighborhood not far from the church. After the 20-25 children arrive, they have snack and then they rotate among 3 stations for 1/2 hour each: Homework Help, Bible Story/Activity, and Reading.
On one particular afternoon recently, I was helping out in the Reading station. Two second graders came bursting into the room so they could choose their favorite book before someone else selected it. Their favorite book is, The Disney Big Book of Princesses.
The girls brought the book to a table to show me. It’s pink (of course) and the cover has pictures of several of the Disney princesses.
As one of the pair of girls started to open the book, the other stopped her, insisting that before they read, they should decide which is ‘the most beautifuller princess’ on the cover.
The girls pointed to the princesses one by one, exclaiming, “Oh she’s so beautiful!” and “No, wait! This one is more beautifuller!”
As I watched them go through this ritual (my sense was that they did it quite often!) I noticed with some sadness that there was one princess they did not point to – and that was the princess who looked most like them. Neither of them chose the picture of Princess Jasmine as being in the running for “most beautifuller princess.”
I don’t know why they didn’t choose a princess who looked like them. Perhaps it was simply because the odds were against it – Jasmine was the only princess of color on the book’s cover. Nevertheless, their choices made me think about what it means to a growing child that her idea of the epitome of beauty is someone who does not look like her. I can’t help but wonder if it creates in her a desire to be someone different than who she is.
In the creation story of Genesis 1, God creates humankind in the image of God. All of humankind is in God’s image. Dark-skinned, light-skinned, heavyset, lean-bodied, female,male…when we look at each other, we look at the clearest picture God has given us of Godself.
We are most beautifuller!