By: Dana Zillgitt, Regular Contributor
Growing up, my mother would always read us The Velveteen Rabbit. She always said it was one of her favorites to read out loud, but I remember thinking—how sad is this? It's about a bunny that’s basically destroyed and still thinks it’s pretty? What is this nonsense? Hasn’t it looked in a mirror lately?
But looking back, The Velveteen Rabbit can teach us a lot as adults, as children’s media so often can. The Velveteen Rabbit is a true example of the old cliche “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Nobody can really take that shining light from you, if you see it yourself. Nobody can dull that light, no matter how many moth balls or stones they may throw at you.
Rereading this children’s novel, I remembered why a part of me always loved this book, even without truly understanding why. It shows a certain strength, a certain knack for adversity that a lot of people don’t realize they need until it’s almost too late. Additionally, this seemingly destroyed and “ugly” stuffed toy can be a metaphor for so many things in life, but mostly, it’s a sign of inner strength that not only others can aspire to but that we can also always lean on. While beauty may be overrated, it’s a sentiment that will glow from the inside out if we start to see it ourselves. We are always unsure of what we do not understand, of what we cannot comprehend.
We all need that one book growing up that shows us how to be as humans, as adults even, and for me, that was The Velveteen Rabbit. Every moment I felt ugly or unworthy, every second I didn’t feel good enough or like something was massively lacking, I somehow always found myself thinking of that poor rabbit who kept believing in something bigger than its sagging eyes or loose joints. I always thought that if that poor rabbit could make it, so could I. If that sack of fabric could make it work, so can I—right? Right.
Because growing up is tough, and adulting is hard. But we all need that reality check where we realize that we’re worth it and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, even if that beholder is you and the mirror you’re now lovingly gazing into. And sometimes it’s found in the strangest of places where you become the most nostalgic. So, my dear Velveteen Rabbit, thank you for showing me that becoming real isn’t synonymous with ugliness to the blind eye—only to the one who doesn’t understand.
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Dana has her BA in International Affairs & Spanish as well as a mild obsession with rescue animals and all things caffeinated. She’s mastered the art of the selfie, fort building, and even the sass battle. Plus, she can quote 95% of Anchorman and Zoolander.