We Could Use a Lot More Mrs. Leonards

Your beauty should come from your inside you, the unfading loveliness of a gentle and peaceful spirit.  

1 Peter 3:4            


According to an article in Psychology Today, in the past thirty years women are becoming increasingly preoccupied with their physical appearance. In addition to this, while the ideal body preference is getting thinner, Americans are growing heavier.  

As women place greater and greater emphasis on outward physique, dissatisfaction with personal appearance is at an all-time high.  

While 89% of women want to lose weight, 3% want to gain weight. That doesn't leave many who are content with how they are.  

Oddly enough, satisfaction with personal appearance is not firmly rooted in reality. When ranked by age, teens are the thinnest group, yet they're also the most distressed with their weight. Smoking among young women is on the rise, and 50% of them claim they started smoking in hopes of controlling their weight.  

Even thin women, sadly, often see themselves as overweight. 40% of women classed as extremely underweight, still feel anxious about weighing too much.  


Mrs. Leonard taught second grade. She was short and round, and exuded happiness. She was a sparkling lady.  

Mary Ann Bird, in her book The Whisper Test, recalls the dreadful nightmare of her early years. She was born with a cleft palate and her classmates didn't fail to draw attention to her misshapen lips, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and speech impediment.  

When her classmates asked, "What happened to your lip?" she'd tell them she fell on a piece of glass -- thinking an accident could mask the shame of being born this way.  

Mary Ann was convinced that no one, outside her family, could possibly love her.  


One day Mrs. Leonard administered the annual hearing tests. One by one students would stand facing the classroom door while the teacher would sit at her desk and whisper a phrase that the student would have to repeat -- phrases like, "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?"  

When Mary Ann's turn came she dutifully faced the door. At that moment she says she heard seven words that changed her life. Mrs. Leonard whispered to her, "I wish you were my little girl."  


Mrs. Leonard was short and plump. All the same, Mrs. Leonard was beautiful. Her radiant personality spoke of an acceptance for who she was. And a realization that the inner qualities of a person are what really matter.  

I'm only guessing, but I believe Mrs. Leonard's less-than-glamorous physique only increased her sensitivity toward the blemishes of others. 

The world has all the glamour queens it needs. But we sure could use a lot more Mrs. Leonards 


(text copyright 2011 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)