Driving down the Banfield, the blood-orange facade of the Eastbank Commerce Center caught my attention. I’ve passed by this building nearly once a week since I was born. It’s an ordinary building, but today it fires the loaded memory gun.
My senior year of high school was about to start. I had somehow managed to keep my hair from turning green and the August sun was shining down on us Portlanders, who deal with rain nine months out of the year for our precious summer season.
The mailbox contained the usual suspects – bills, a letter from family – but my eyes were drawn to postcards collaged with photos of beautiful people who looked about my age. And they were, indeed. The time for senior portraits had finally arrived.
I’ve never been the girl who is into clothes. Fashion trends fly by with me noticing and I don’t always remember to buy nylons until I’m dressing up for the wedding and realize I don’t have any.
But my dad caught on to this side of me – after all, he was also my mom during my adolescent years. So he decided to take me on a shopping date, and not just a hand-me-some-money kind of shopping date, but one where he and I browsed through racks of cream blouses, flowy dresses and pants that came in sizes tall enough to accommodate my long legs.
Other than my childhood dress up days, I’d never put on a fashion show. Throughout middle school and high school, I didn’t even go the mall with friends to try on the latest styles, just for the heck of it.
But here was my dad – my 6 foot, 6 inch tall, muscly dad, helping me color coordinate and find clothes that said, “Yes, world, I’m a woman!”
I twirled around in dozens of outfits until we found just the right collection. With my new wardrobe complete, we called the photo studio and I was en route to a photo shoot meant to capture my teenage years and send me off into the college world.
I’m not sure who was smiling more throughout the photo session – me or my dad. I walked into the studio wearing Adidas shorts and a camp t-shirt, and after some primping and preparation, I strolled out with my blonde hair flowing, eyelids shimmering and sun-kissed skin dressed in a silky new top.
This was me? This is me.
Outside of that Eastbank Commerce Center building, Kevin, the photographer, took pictures – which was a surreal experience in and of itself. But what I’ll remember more is my dad’s reaction when he and Kevin flipped through the shots on the screen. They were my personal cheerleaders.
While I hope that all fathers take the time to tell their daughters that they are beautiful, I’m not sure they always remember to. I want to say that my dad told me I was beautiful so often that it all melts together, but the truth is that I’m really not sure how often he voiced it.
But he did that sunny August day outside that blood-orange building. He stood there and smiled and cheered and hooted and hollered. He told me I was beautiful and his words meant so much.
Our Heavenly Father showers us with those words every day, but it’s only so often that we hear our earthly fathers say it.
Truth be told, it would be overwhelming for any human to be constantly saying how beautiful someone is, but the amazing thing is that God can.
He created us. He knows every freckle and dimple and hair on your head. He is an artist, an awesome artist, and all of His creations are wonderfully beautiful. And that means you. You are beautiful because He made you that way.