The Penny Syndrome

On my friend Courtney’s birthday, a group of us girls went to dinner together, followed by a trip to our friend Christina’s house.  We all sat on Christina’s balcony, which offers an unbelievable breathtaking view of the Nashville skyline, and took turns voting on where Courtney should apply for culinary school and competing on the most ridiculous stories.  There were points in the night we were all laughing so hard our faces hurt.  I, of course, took the liberty to throw in a couple Asian stories of my upbringing and even settled on the title of this book in the process.

The conversation turned when Christina told us a story she had read in a magazine of two Chinese girls being kidnapped from their home in China because of their gender.  One by one it seemed we each had a story we had recently heard on some sort of injustice in the world.  It made me realize that life is a lot bigger than me and my friends in Nashville.  We have the privilege of walking down the street wearing as much or as little as we want.  We can speak our mind in a gathering full of male peers.  We are worth more than pennies.

I don’t think we do a good job of living our lives beyond, what I like to refer to, as The Penny Syndrome.  We act like pennies, we talk like pennies and we dress like pennies.  Our hearts are handed out to whoever is willing to take it as if it is nothing more than spare change.  And when we are broken, we hurt deeply.

As I sat on the balcony with my friends, I couldn’t help but think of the girls our age in different parts of the world and what they were doing at the moment.  Here we were spending an enchanting evening under the stars talking, laughing and dreaming together, and there are girls out there in dark rooms crying, being treated like pennies and objects and fighting off persecution.

As I’m writing this, there is a store across town that just put up a window display with each mannequin holding a sign that spells out the sentence, “Start a revolution, stop hating your body.”  Society depicts an unrealistic image of the perfect woman.  She’s tall and slender with unattainable beauty.  And naturally, us mere mortals buy into this idea.  We measure our worth by the size number on our favorite pair of jeans and compare ourselves to others to see all the ways we don’t measure up.  It seems we live in culture where we embrace The Penny Syndrome while the rest of the world tries to fight against it.

My dear friends and brilliant musicians, Joel and Luke (for KING & COUNTRY), partnered with me and turned this concept into a tangible reminder to fight against The Penny Syndrome.  These beautiful, penny necklaces come with a card that reads, “Society suggests, ‘Talk, dress and act like you are worth nothing more than a penny.’  This Australian coin stands as a reminder that a woman is worth so much more.  She is priceless.  It also is a call out for men to treat ladies with Respect & Honor.”

We were not meant to live the life of a penny – we were not meant to be treated like one, bargained as one or spoken to like one.  A long, long time ago a man named Jesus paid an incomprehensible price so that no one could ever try to buy our worth away from us.  So please, stop starving yourself, stop spending more money to show less skin, stop painting murals on your face, stop hating your body.

We can be part of a revolution, a band of dreamers with the antidote of the Penny Syndrome.  It doesn’t have to start with the world or a mountain or a village.  It can start with one penny.  Every cent counts.

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