Monday, September 12, 2011

You Is Smart...You Is Kind...You Is Important

A couple of weeks ago I headed out to the movies to see "The Help" with a bunch of girlfriends.  I have anxiously been counting down the days until this film came out because I fell in love with the book a couple of years ago.  The book was a little hard to get into at first, but I fell in love with the characters, the time period, and the setting.

The movie lived up to my expectation and went beyond my dreams.  I do believe this was the first time that a book turned movie was, in my opinion, as good or maybe even a little bit better than the book.  My favorite line throughout the movie was when Aibileen, a maid, would get down on her knees and look the little girl she took care of in the eye and told her, "You is smart, you is kind, you is important."  This scene happened several times, and all were moving to me.  It moved me so much that it has stayed with me since the movie.

Fast forward to this week.  When I got in my car on Tuesday morning headed to work at 6 am, Pink's song, "Perfect" came on the radio.  For some reason, it brought tears to my eyes.  I thought about a conversation I had with a dear, dear friend about struggling in high school to fit in because of choices that we made or didn't make and how girls still struggle with finding positive groups of friends.  I began to think about the negative self-talk that I have been guilty of participating in on a regular basis.  The words that tell me that I'm not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not important enough.

In the midst of all this deep thinking, I had a glimpse of my two precious nieces sitting in high school thinking they were not enough, not valuable, not important.  It broke my heart into pieces.  If there is one thing I'd like to leave them it would be to know that you ARE enough.  You were created EXACTLY the way God wanted to be.  The perfect hair, eyes, shape, tastes, etc.  That you ARE valued and loved and significant.

Here are the lyrics:

Made a wrong turn
Once or twice
Dug my way out
Blood and fire
Bad decisions
That’s alright
Welcome to my silly life
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss “no way it’s all good”
It didn’t slow me down
Always second guessing
Look, I’m still around…
Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than
Less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You are perfect to me
You’re so mean
When you talk
About yourself
You are wrong
Change the voices
In your head
Make them like you
So complicated
Look how big you’ll make it
Filled with so much hatred
Such a tired game
It’s enough
I’ve done all i can think of
Chased down all my demons
see you same
Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than
Less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You are perfect to me
The world stares while i swallow the fear
The only thing i should be drinking is an ice cold beer
So cool in lying and I tried tried
But we try too hard, it’s a waste of my time
Done looking for the critics, cuz they’re everywhere
They don’t like my genes, they don’t get my hair
String ourselves and we do it all the time
Why do we do that?
Why do I do that?
Why do I do that?
Ooh, oh, pretty pretty pretty,
Pretty pretty please don’t you ever ever feel
Like you’re less then, less than perfect
Pretty pretty please if you ever ever feel
Like you’re nothing you are perfect, to me
You’re perfect
You’re perfect
Pretty, pretty please don’t you ever ever feel like you’re less then, less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please if you ever ever feel like you’re nothing you are perfect to me.

After processing all of this in my short drive, I made a change to my classroom because not only do I want my nieces to learn this important lesson, I want my students to know it too.  I want each child to know how valuable they are to me, to our classroom, and to our school.  So, I took the full length mirror in my classroom and I found a set of window markers.  I decided that when my students stand in front of the mirror they should see positive affirmations.  I wrote "You are..." at the top of the mirror and then wrote positive statements - smart, handsome, beautiful, valued, important, loved - all around the mirror.  

I have to say that sometimes, I find myself standing in that mirror reading the words that I've written out loud so I can hear them before my students arrive.  And today, when one of my students who needs more love than most came up to me and said, "Mrs. is smart, you is kind, you is important," I melted.  Even big girls need to hear that some times.

Guest Post by SHASTA  LOOPER


  1. That's great! I need to do that with my mirror. I tried reading The Help a few years ago and couldn't get into it at all. Then when I heard it was going to be a movie, I had no interest at all. Even with all the rave reviews I still had no desire, but after reading what you wrote, I think I might watch the movie.

  2. Love the movie, love your idea. As teachers, we all need to remember it is not only our student's minds we are shaping, but their view of themselves.

  3. Shonda, the movie is beautiful and heart-wrenching ... a 'must see' in my books.

    As a former high school teacher, you can never underestimate your impact on a student's life. Teachers be encouraged - you have such potential for changing this world through your classroom.

    Ladies, I think we all need this message on our own mirrors!