“Let’s Face It Girls, You Have to Have a Pretty Face.” Those words come back to me to smack me in the face every once in a while as they have for the past 35 years. I’ll get back to this in a minute.
I have my best thoughts when I am in the car alone, and no radio playing. Friday, I saw that it was “Poppy Day”. You have seen the people on the street corners mostly VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) selling the little red flowers. You can find more info about the VFW and Poppies here. But I digress. So I see a VFW member selling poppies on the street, and I remembered that as a little girl, my parents were affiliated with the VFW, and because I was affiliated with my parents, I would get to sell Poppies.
There was always a Poppy Queen, and she got to ride in the Memorial Day Parade. So, when I saw “the poppy people” on Friday I start thinking, “why didn’t I ever get chosen to be Poppy Queen?” I never wondered that when I was a kid. But today I thought about that. Then I started thinking about the one and only time I tried out for a play in high school.
The play was Hello Dolly. I couldn’t sing, and never had a dance lesson in my life. I just wanted to be part of the chorus. I was in the marching band, and that really took all my free time, but just once before I was a grown up I wanted to be in a play.
This is probably why I was never picked as Poppy Queen, I’ll bet they knew I was in the marching band from middle school through high school, and they assumed I would rather wear the long-sleeved-zip-up polyester jacket, and long polyester pants, on those 100 degree days and be part of the marching band where I could really shine; instead of a wearing pretty dress and riding in a convertible. But, I digress again.
So, as a junior in high school, I went to the play audition, and I learned the choreography for the tap number in my gym shoes. I learned the song, Hello Dolly, Well Hello Dolly, It’s so nice to have you here with us again….., for 2 or 3 days I worked at this. The director now has everyone up on stage and she names those who got parts, and to the rest of us she says, “Let’s Face It Girls, You Have To Have A Pretty Face.” (Insert screeching to a halt sound here) Wait….What did she just say?
First of all, can you imagine if a teacher said that to a group of students today? She would have been fired immediately and she should have been. But it was different 35 years ago. Kids didn’t go home and tell their parents things like this, and if they did, our parents didn’t coddle us, they didn’t call the teacher, they told us to go back and work harder, and maybe next time we would make it. I knew I had a pretty face, people had been telling me for years, “Jean, you have such a pretty face if you would only lose some weight you would be beautiful.”
When I started this blog, it was going to be about being careful what you say to young people, because you don’t know how this will affect them their entire lives, but now I don’t want to say that. I want to say, “What are you saying to your kids?” Are you coddling them, are you telling them they are the best when they are not, are you calling the teacher, because of what he/she said to your child? I think if we as parents were a little tougher on our own kids, like our parents were with us, there wouldn’t be so many kids who are afraid to fail. Failure Leads to Success. I think being afraid to fail leads to low self-esteem.
Does it feel good to fail? Hell no it doesn’t. It didn’t feel particularly great to be told I wasn’t pretty enough to be in a high school play. It’s how you handle these failures when you are young that determines how you will handle them when you are older. As an adult, I now know this teacher was trying to be funny. What she meant was, “you can’t dance, and you really can’t sing. Go back to the marching band where they put hats on you so people can’t see your ugly mug.
All these years later, I am so thankful for those words, “Let’s Face It Girls, You Have To Have a Pretty Face.” Those words helped make me who I am today; One tough cookie who is not afraid to fail. When I am knocked down I get back up. And if you tell me “no,” I will go over you, under you and through you to get what I want if I believe I am right. And when those words pop into my head, I always answer them with a BIG, “Screw You Mrs. Lowe!”
So tell me, what is the one thing someone said to you that has stayed with you, and how did it affect you?