By Kaitlin Pratt
I could almost feel the cool mist blowing over the side of the ocean liner. I almost tasted the salt in the air. And I could almost sense the man behind me, whisper-singing a jazzy Gershwin melody in my ear. But really, I was just watching it all happen on the miniature TV screen in my basement bedroom. Ginger Rogers stood as elegantly beautiful as ever, trying to stay coy while Fred Astaire serenaded her with “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” on a ship deck in the moonlight. She was everything I wanted to be, and it wasn’t unusual to find me in my bedroom after a rough day at school, re-watching Astaire-Rogers classics and pretending I was the girl in the 1930s films. I imagined I was the one tap dancing, singing, flirting, and wearing dark lipstick with picture-perfect curls crowning my head. In my mind’s world, I was skinny, talented, and basically irresistible.
But really, I was a Freshman in high school in the year 2004. My clothes had started to feel tighter over the last year, and I was anxious and uncomfortable in my own skin. I tried to cover my pimples with cheap foundation. I pulled up my frizzy curls into a ponytail every day to avoid any comments about my “big hair.” I asked my mom to buy me flared jeans (they were all the rage then, you know), but the Sears specials she bought just didn’t quite look the same as the Gap brand jeans the popular girls wore. I felt a warm, nagging pain in my stomach every time the cheerleaders walked past me in the hallway and whispered, then giggled. This was my reality. I was not Ginger. I was Kaitlin. And I didn’t like being Kaitlin. I didn’t like my reality.
In my unhappiness, I changed the way I prayed. I began to ask Heavenly Father for what I really wanted: I wanted to be skinnier. I wanted to be prettier. I wanted to be more likeable. So I asked him every night if He could please make that happen somehow. Please. After praying like this for several weeks, a thought came into my head. I dismissed it at first, but in the days that followed, it persisted. It came to my mind while I walked to geometry class. It came again during warm-up for P.E. I had the same thought the next day in Spanish class when I overheard Kelsy telling her boyfriend I was ugly. It kept coming and coming, even in moments when I felt especially unlikeable.
“Kaitlin,” it went, “I love you just the way you are.”
It finally started to sink in. Why was I so unhappy with a body my Heavenly Father had created for me? Didn’t I trust that He loved me? Why was I so quick to let 15-year olds define who I was and yet hesitant to accept my real identity, the identity God created for me?
Jacob 4:13 became a very significant scripture for me during that time: “The Spirit speaketh truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are.” The Spirit was trying to teach me that my reality was not defined by the opinions of those few scorning Freshmen. My reality was defined by God, and it was this: I was His child. His creation. His offspring. He was a part of who I was, and I was a part of Him. And that was beautiful.
Now I’m older. I graduated from college. I got married. I’m a mom. I grew out of the pimples and learned to control the frizz. Still, there are moments when I feel uncomfortable with myself, especially when I look on Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook and compare my bad days with the seemingly perfect lives portrayed on social media. But then I remember: that is not reality. My role as a wife and mother—that’s my reality. Being imperfect is my reality too, but it’s also a reality that I am trying and improving, and I feel the Lord helping me. He knows my real potential, and it is far greater and far more divine than anything I could see in the movies, or in the halls of my high school, or on Pinterest boards.
And that makes even the hard days bearable and even satisfying. I have come to realize that my reality is beautiful.
What helps remind you of how things really are?
Kaitlin Pratt grew up in the Kansas countryside, but currently enjoys city life in St. Louis, MO while her husband attends optometry school. She graduated from BYU-Idaho in English Education after serving a full-time mission in Paraguay. She and her husband are parents to a sweet little boy, who is the sunshine of their lives, and expecting a second baby boy next month. A few of her passions: the Book of Mormon, old movies, running, playing the piano, musical theater, being outside, garden-fresh veggies, and ice cream. Especially ice cream.