I remember a line from the movie rendition of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. Essentially, Elizabeth Proctor (played by Joan Allen) said she thought she was ugly and therefore not worthy of her husband’s love; she was a bad wife who never showed him affection—and maybe that’s why he cheated on her.
I was stunned. It was true; his wife wasn’t very pretty, at least not as pretty as the young Winona Ryder who played the Puritan harlot Abigail Williams, mistress of John Proctor, played by Daniel Day-Lewis.
But it wasn’t her fault she wasn’t very pretty. She couldn’t help it! She shouldn’t blame her husband’s adultery on herself—or so I thought.
It’s a classic-tale of husband finds a younger, cuter lady to hit on. But that wasn’t what struck me; it was the concept that a wife’s self-esteem can affect her marriage.
Elizabeth Proctor was not taking her husband’s sin of adultery solely upon herself. She was conceding that she had been a cold wife, not confident in her own unique beauty and unwilling to express physical affection. She didn’t feel enough self-worth to look beyond her own needs and nurture her marriage.%u2028
Our world can be a very hard place for women, but it is essential to the emotional health of our marriages, and even our motherhood, to feel good about ourselves.
On one 30-minute drive up Interstate 15 from Provo to Salt Lake City, I am told I should get rid of my cellulite, cut off my baggy eyelids, turn my lemony bosoms into grapefruit, laser-remove all of my body hair, zap my spider veins, buy a complete new sexy wardrobe and put together a marathon running schedule.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve our physical bodies, because it does affect the way we feel about ourselves. However, the procedures cost a lot of money, and our families need us to be healthy, now. And all the surgeries in the world can’t change the way we feel about ourselves if our self-worth is dependent on our outsides.
If we can learn to focus on the emotional health that comes with exercise, fresh air, developing talents and abilities and serving others, we can learn to love ourselves—flaws and all. I know I want those side effects: willingness to give of myself physically and emotionally, security and trust.
I believe more than anyone else, maybe even more than our husbands, our daughters will thank us for our emotional health—as they see their mother love herself for who she is, and teaches by example how to be a woman who doesn’t let billboards and TV programs tell her who she is and what she’s worth.
KRYSTAL K. BAKER