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Susie Ekberg Risher, Areavoices.com, Published February 27 2013

Fitting in: A chance to remind you how beautiful you are

“Please stand over here, sir.”

My son and I were in line at the Tower of Terror in Disney World. I looked up when I heard my son snort a little.

“Oh, I wasn’t talking to YOU,” the young ride attendant stammered to me. “I was talking to your son.”

“No,” I said, “I’m pretty sure you were talking to me.”

I was 6 feet tall at age 12. I never had a chance at fitting in to any standard beauty ideals. I’ve been size 14 since I was 14. A Barbie doll I am not. A GI Joe doll, maybe.

I never thought I was tall, though. I just thought the rest of the world didn’t grow enough. I love being tall. We were raised to stand tall and be proud. But most little girls don’t get that message.

We all start out knowing we’re the most gorgeous creatures on the planet, but society has a way of showing us all the ways in which we are imperfect and eventually we get the message – there is always something wrong with us.

We learn how to focus on those imperfections, hoping that by hating those bad parts of ourselves we can somehow transform ourselves into the perfect beings we are constantly told we can become – if we can only lose weight, shrink 5 inches, change our eye color, have thinner calves, fewer freckles.

I love fashion. I love Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors. I love Hermes scarves and Mikkimoto pearls. So what’s a girl to do when she looks in the mirror and sees an Amazon looking back at her? How can she feel good about herself when an extra-large is a size 8? How can a size 14 girl fit into a size 2 world?

We hear people say that real beauty is on the inside, but it’s usually outwardly beautiful people who are telling us that. And that’s nice to hear, but do we ever believe it? I’ve been called handsome before but that’s not the same as being called beautiful.

I ask you larger-than-life women, you older women, you taller women, you shorter women, do you feel beautiful, inside and out? Do you dress nicely or have you given yourself over to the land of yoga pants and baggy T-shirts? Have you given up?

It is to you I speak. Who will show us our beauty when we may have never felt beautiful? It’s not about who has the biggest cleavage or the most toned upper arms. It’s not about who has the smallest pores (give me a break) or about how long you can wear those 5-inch heels without crying.

It’s about looking in a mirror and seeing the way your gray hair shines. It’s about wearing that red dress and strutting a little bit. It’s about knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are gorgeous. It has nothing to do with your outsides but everything to do with the way you see yourself. I hold up a mirror for you so you can see what I see. You are stunning. You are luminescent. You are gorgeous. Get set to pack those mom jeans away, girls, because there’s a whole world out there beyond elastic waists.

It’s true – you’re fabulously beautiful and I’m going to prove it to you. Dare me? You’re on. It’s not about fashion. It’s about fitting in.

Ekberg Risher blogs at http://fittingin.areavoices.com/