Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Ugly Mannequin (who are you calling ugly?)

For those of you who don't know me I can be a bit quirky. For those that do know me I can hear you saying "Duh!" Sometimes, and I'm sure I am the only one, I say or do foolish things. I call this condition: Accidental Inappropriateness or AI for short.
This is NOT an ugly mannequin

I believe the first manifested episode struck me as a teenager, while walking with a friend through the old Harts department store in Delaware, Ohio. My eye was caught by two mannequins that were similarly dressed and posed closely together. The first was posed naturally. Not human naturally, but mannequin naturally. The second was posed human naturally, just standing there motionless the way mannequins do.

The first one looked like a normal everyday store mannequin. If it was in a warehouse full of mannequins you would not be able to pick it out from any of the others. I know the thought of being in a warehouse full of mannequins is a bit freaky for some so I apologize for the imagery. The second one was different than the first in that it was ugly. I had never seen an ugly mannequin before. I always thought they were supposed to be beauty neutral, well, as much as I thought about things like that.

I commented to my friend as I pointed, "That is an ugly mannequin."  I did not whisper it to him since it wasn't a secret. Other people had to have realized that it was an ugly mannequin, too. Because I was being funny, I even put heavy emphasis on the "Ug", drawing it out a couple extra seconds... "Uuuuggggggly". And then we laughed.

I don't know why I had an opinion on the aesthetics of a life-sized, plastic clothing model. I saw it. It was ugly. I said so. Unfortunately, the "mannequin" turned out to be a lady who just happened to not be moving when I had looked at her. I realized this after she looked at me and said "excuse me?".

I  couldn't play it off. When I pointed and made my exclamation it was obvious about whom I was speaking. What could I say? "Oh, wow! Sorry, lady. I thought you were a mannequin. For a lady you are okay". I would never call another person ugly or intentionally hurt their feelings. That's just not me. And now I will never knock a mannequin either.

What's my point? Although the great mannequin debacle of 1985 was truly a mistake on my part, a case of AI, how many times have I made the same types of judgement knowing that it was a real, living, breathing human being? How many times have I put down someone else's point of view, intelligence, circumstances, appearance or some other lack of normalcy? Maybe I never intentionally pointed at someone and called them ugly or stupid but I know I have thought it.  I know I have made snide comments or jokes. And we all know that's okay as long as I was just kidding, right? Wrong. That was sarcasm.

Look, we live in a society that is broken. Countless people are physically, mentally, relationally, financially and/or spiritually challenged. Some are adversely affected by the poor choices that they or some other person made.

We who believe we have it all together tend to judge from high up on our perch, those who don't. We tend to believe that what we initially see on the surface is all there is to a person. Well, these are people not lifeless, soulless mannequins. And when we indulge in crude and harsh thought or commentary about them, or bully them, we are simply projecting the insecurity of our own inner man. When we judge, we are reflecting the condition of our own heart and quite possibly crushing another human being in the process, whether we mean to or not.

I would like to encourage you with this post to consider the people around you. Those in your sphere of influence that are maybe not what you would consider "normal." Then, imagine that person as your child. Will you go out of your way to love them? You know, the way Jesus went out of His way to love you. I hope so.

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