“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
This is my favourite story of all time, and considering it is all about vulnerability and love, its most poignant lesson is, how do we love ourselves with our shabby velveteen fur, tail becoming unsewn, pink rubbing off our nose, and the pink sateen of our ears fading away?
The Rabbit was The Boy’s favourite toy for a long time. The Rabbit didn’t mind his shabbiness because the love he felt from his owner outweighed any self consciousness he felt about himself.
When The Boy discards The Rabbit when he contracts Scarlet Fever, The Rabbit feels unloved, discarded, and worthless. He cries a tear, and sprouts a beautiful flower fairy who uses her nursery magic to turn him into a REAL bunny, just like the other bunnies in the forest.
It was a risk for The Rabbit to be so loved, as this made him more and more tattered, eventually having to be thrown away. In the end, The Boy rejected him, but as always, it is through losing something that we gain the most. When we allow ourselves to be loved so deeply by someone, we essentially risk being discarded. Vulnerability is a scary thing, but when we allow ourselves to feel, we become more REAL, and our flaws become invisible as the power of Love is the fairy magic that animates us all.
Vulnerability is but a mirror reflecting back to us our Self. We look for validation in others, we look for acceptance, we look for unconditional love. When it is our own Self that is reflected back to us, all we see are those threadbare whiskers, the chipped pink patina, and the shabby fur, we neglect to see those as proof of our Love. If we cannot look our vulnerabilities in the eye and honour them for making us who we are, then how could we possibly let another soul see our vulnerabilities as anything more than tattered ears and shabby fur…..how unreal is that?
When we love ourselves and all our flaws, we see beauty reflected around us, the sun becomes brighter, the sky more blue, the perfume of flowers becomes more pungent. When The Rabbit was visited by the fairy, it wasn’t her magic that made him real. It was when he realized his dingy legs were hind legs, his dull fur was shiny fur, his whiskers were long and new. When we view ourselves with love and appreciation, we become our own upgraded velveteen rabbits, and it is that self-love that is the most powerful magic of all.
As the fairy said to The Rabbit “You were Real to the Boy, because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to everyone.”