Dear Good Christian Bitch

Dear GCB,

I wonder how cold it is way up there on your high horse where you sit ready to look down at anyone who crosses your holier than thou path. Does it make you feel closer to Jesus (because I don’t really think He lives in the sky)? Do you think you look good up there, pompous and arrogant, a knower of all of the things and a judge to us all? I see you. I’ve watched you for a while.

I see the way you whisper in church with your girlfriends, how you look down your nose at the single mom who comes to church in her beat up jeans with her four kids. I see the way you roll your eyes when the preacher’s wife, a tall pretty blonde, walks up to the pulpit to speak to the children. You see, I’ve been around you my entire life. I grew up with you. I know you well.

You were part of the group of girls who made fun of me at church. You announced in front of everyone that I had a (gasp) run in my stockings. You pointed to my teeth and asked loud enough so everyone could hear why they were so yellow.

In Sunday school.

You made me cry and didn’t apologize. You laughed at me when I forgot the bible verse that I knew but was too nervous to remember when I had to stand at the front of the class.

You were the girl who told the only boy who gave me any attention at church that I was a slut who slept around and that I would give him AIDS. Then you called him gay for liking me.

In junior high. At youth group.

You told the other girls that I was poor. (Perhaps compared to you, I was, but I was rich in something else. Kindness. Love. Compassion.)

I hated church because of you. I laid in my bed on Sunday mornings sick with anxiety waiting for my dad to come in and tell me to get ready. I obsessed about what to wear, how to fix my hair, shoes, fingernails, jewelry, purses, and all because I wanted to impress you, and every time you pulled me into your group and made me feel like I might belong, you dropped another mean bomb on me and exploded any hope that I had of ever fitting in.

At church. In God’s house.

And now, we’re all grown up, and I hear you on your phone with your girlfriend in the grocery store talking about what Joel Osteen says is right and true and good and just, and then after we’ve checked out and loaded our groceries, I see you behind me at the light. You’re annoyed because I’ve rolled down my window to give the man on the corner with the sign a couple of dollars. You think he’s a nuisance to society, that he’s mucking up the scenery of your cute suburban town, and God forbid, you be delayed. You might be a few minutes late to prayer group because I looked him in the eye and told him that he mattered.

You can’t wait to jump online and shame other moms about their parenting. You love to post hateful sanctimonious comments to mothers who are just like you, struggling every day to make it. You look down your haughty nose at other parents who aren’t raising their children the way you are. I hear you. And I see you. You’re quick to judge and point out other people’s faults, and often you do it publicly. I don’t know a lot of things, but I’m fairly certain this is the exact opposite of WWJD.

You use Facebook as a platform to preach God’s love. Your feed shows constant daily devotionals and scriptures to make sure the world knows what a great person you are. Yet, when you’re the center of a group of women, you’re the first to bring up what so and so wore or said or did and get the rest of the girls to join your personal tirade. Then when that same so and so posts that she’s having a hard time on Facebook, you’re quick with the prayer hands emoji and always say “praying for you, my friend,” right before you call your other friend to gossip about her problem behind her back.

You’re the reason I don’t go to church. You’re the reason Christians get a bad name. You’re the very reason I question my own faith. Because how can I be part of a group with so much judgement for people who they don’t understand? I know you’re the minority, that most Christians are inherently good and kind, but you’re louder than everyone else, so you have become the figurehead for me and for a lot of other people.

And that figurehead is the face of a hypocrite. You bathe in the glory of God’s love and forgiveness when everyone can see, but when you think nobody is looking, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you preach. You show your little girl that it’s okay to talk bad about other people. She heard you talking about how Sally is having marital problems and will probably get a divorce and that you can’t possibly be friends with Sally anymore if she’s divorced, and then your daughter hears you and your friend plot out how you’re going to snuff Sally out of your life, and then that sweet little girl goes to school the next day and creates a club and doesn’t allow a little girl to play with the other girls,  and poor little Paisley goes home to her mom and tells her that she no longer has any friends because she wore purple today and everyone else wore pink, and so nobody would play with her. And she’s in kindergarten. Do you hear this?

Let me say it louder.

Your daughter is listening.

Do you want her to see the same woman I see? The Good Christian Bitch who thinks she’s better than everyone else?

I didn’t think so. Get off of your high horse. Put down your prayer hands, and be the person you pretend to be on Facebook, at church, when everybody is looking. Because you know what? I’m always looking. Your daughter is always looking. And all of those sinner/non-Christian heathens whom you’ve spent a lifetime looking down your nose at, they’re looking too, and they’re staying as far away from you and your church as possible. Oh you think they don’t know where you go to church?

You have a sticker on the back window of your Cadillac Escalade, right next to the one with the stick figure family with a mom, a dad, two boys and a girl.  I noticed you because you just flipped me off in traffic. Must be running late for bible study.

Sincerely,

Everyone

PS: If you’re sitting there wondering if this post is about you, it isn’t, but it also probably is.

prayer-hands-emoji

I almost forgot…have a blessed day.

Just a Girl For a Girl

I grew up censored. I was taught to behave a certain way. I obeyed the rules  to sit still and be quiet and that (and this is a big one) women do not have the right to assert authority over men. It was in the Bible, so it was true. My father, a Christian fundamentalist, taught me from a very young age that women were inferior. I don’t fault him for this anymore. He no longer believes this way, and he supports women and is coming around to feminism.

If you know anything about me at all, you know that my dad is one of my favorite people on the planet, and nobody has ever or will ever love me as much as he does, but I grew up “just a girl” who could do things well “for a girl” who was smart “for a girl.”

I had a great childhood and was loved and cared for, but along the way, I started to realize that I didn’t buy into the “for a girl” bullshit I was being spoon fed. I watched my mother, a traditional stay-at-home mom, submit to my father on most decisions that were made in our home. He was the head of the house, and when I began to voice my opinion on the subject, I was squelched and quieted and told that I didn’t know anything by most of the people in my family.

When Geraldine Ferraro was announced as the vice presidential candidate in 1984, I heard a lot of talk about how a woman couldn’t possibly be president. She would be too emotional to hold such a title. I was six years old.

The older I got, the more I rebelled against that conventional mindset, but I continued to hear things like “women shouldn’t” or worse, “women can’t.” Last week, I defended a candidate that a family member interviewed for a job because he was worried if he hired her, she would be high maintenance. Because she’s female.

I try not to teach my children stereotypes. Anytime my son gets emotional, I don’t tell him to “stop crying like a girl.” I allow him to cry and to feel emotion, and I applaud him for his feelings. I tell my daughter she can do anything.

Just this morning, she said to me, “Mom, I know I’m not supposed to play football because I’m a girl, but I like it.”

I responded, “Because you’re a girl? Pfft. Girls can do anything. Today, for the first time in history, I can vote for a woman to be president of the United States. We can be astro-physicists, epidemiologists, fork lift drivers, police officers, baseball players. Anything. And if you love football, you play without apology. Don’t let anyone tell you because you’re a girl, you can’t do something. Because you are a person, and you can do anything.”

When I went to the polls today to vote, I took her with me. I felt an immense sense of pride, a lump heavy in my throat as we walked side by side into the polling station.

The woman at the desk offered her an “I voted” sticker, and she graciously took it. We went to the booth. I showed her Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot and said, “Let’s make history.” Tears welled in my eyes as we pressed the screen and put an X next to her name. This is a moment she and I will remember for the rest of our lives.

i-voted

We’re With Her

I sometimes rock the boat on social media and get into discussions about things like gun control because I’m passionate about it, but I have stayed pretty quiet about this election. The times I’ve spoken any opinions, I’ve been put in my place and quieted. I’ve received lots of hateful private messages that I tried to simply brush off. To me, it’s not worth it to lose friends over an election, so I’ve kept my mouth shut. Until today.

Women didn’t earn the right to vote in this country until 1920, and it took another 96 years for a woman’s name to be on the ballot for President. It doesn’t matter on what side of the fence you lean. This is a big deal. For my daughter, for me, for women, for America.  And because of this monumental moment in history, for the first time in my life I feel brave enough to let everyone I know hear me say, “I’m with her.”

Dear Woman on the Beach (in Defense of My Body)

Dear Woman at the Beach (in Defense of my Body);

I see you looking at me. I see the way you start at my feet and work your way over my bikini, never making it to my face. You can hide behind your dark tinted Dior shades, but it’s there. That subtle way you turn up your nose at me, the way you glance at your man to see if he’s looking at me. Guess what? He isn’t.

I see the way you lean over and whisper into your friend’s ear. Then she looks at me, and you both purse your lips and giggle.

I see you judging me, picking apart my body, looking for flaws.

When I say “hi,” I see how uncomfortable it makes you, how you can’t even manage a simple hello because you spent all afternoon scrutinizing my body.

When we see each other at dinner at the resort restaurant, no longer in our swimsuits, you manage to force a smile. Then you take your husband’s hand and lead him to a different part of the restaurant.

You hate me because I spend hours in the gym to get what society deems a “bikini body.” Because I spent thousands of dollars to inflate the empty skin sacks that were left behind after nursing my two children.

I paid for boobs, yes. Judge me for that, but I didn’t do that for you. The swimsuit isn’t for you either.

Here’s what you don’t know about me. I’m also ashamed of my body. Not because I don’t like it or because I think it’s sub-par. I’m ashamed of my body around other women.

I have cried alone in my room at the cruel things women have said to me. I have been the brunt of jokes because I’m thin. I have been the center of a tirade of questions and comments aimed at my body.

“Do you ever eat?”

“How many hours do you spend in the gym?”

“If you had a little meat on your bones.”

“Those boobs..”

Before I got to the beach, I tried on several suits. I picked apart myself in the mirror trying to see myself from your superior eyes. I fussed with my cover-up so much walking to the beach that my husband said, “Jesus, Mandi. You look fine.”  My breakfast threatened to reappear at least twice before I was brave enough to remove said garment. I had to have a drink to work up the nerve.

I feel for people who hit the gym and diet to no avail. I really do, and I realize I’m fortunate that when I put the effort into my body, it pays off. It doesn’t mean I have fewer feelings. It doesn’t mean hurt doesn’t hurt. The number of pounds on our bodies doesn’t determine the way we hurt.

I feel self-conscious. I wear my cover up most of the time. I sit with my feet in the pool at pool parties instead of getting in. I have consciously chosen swimsuits on numerous occasions based on what I thought you would think.

But I’m done.  I’m sick of mean girl mentality. And I refuse to give into it anymore.

We are in this together. We are women, beautiful, breathtaking, powerful women. You, woman on the beach, are stunning. We might be different shapes and sizes, but I shouldn’t have to worry about what you think of me in my swimsuit. And I don’t care if you think women of a certain age should not wear bikinis anymore or that we should stop wearing shorts or skirts or shirts that show cleavage. You are aiding in a growing epidemic of body shaming whether you realize it or not.

You can shake your head at me, or wrinkle your nose if you want to. You can look at me with disgust. You can hate me. You can even talk about me with your mean girl posse. I’m a great person, a supportive friend, and funny AF, so if you don’t want to get to know me, it’s your loss. Sit there, drowning in negativity while I splash around in the pool with my children, while I go down water slides and build sand castles and take pictures.  I’m going to make memories. I’m going to laugh and smile and enjoy my life while I can – in my bikini. I’m not promised tomorrow. I won’t waste my time being ashamed.

 

~You know who I am.

 

But in case you forgot...

But in case you forgot…