Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Personal Journey: Be - YOU - Tiful

Write. Erase. Re-write. Erase. Write.

The first sentence is always the most difficult. Here we go...

What is "perfect" or "beautiful," anyway? 

This is a post I've wanted to write for years, but haven't. Why?
  • Shame? No, I don't think so. Well, maybe there's a little of that...
  • Making sure I'm responsible with my words while hopefully eloquently and thoughtfully getting my point across...sure, that's more of a focus... 
  • But honestly, hopefully this will be an experience that will release me from being trapped inside my issues...maybe one day I will learn to like, even love, myself?
Here's the truth: I consider myself fat and ugly, full of flaws. 

Please excuse me for cutting to the chase and being so blunt... but now that that's out there, I shall begin my post.

I was listening to The Bert Show on the radio a few weeks ago, and the main host was talking about how his 6 year old son was commended for telling the teacher when a fellow girl student was "shamed for being fat." My heart broke. 6 years old. On the one hand, you want your children to be healthy. On the other, you don't want them living with body image issues for the rest of their lives so it's very important to be mindful. Fellow listeners called in saying that children in grades as low as kindergarten - KINDERGARTEN - were experiencing the same thing. Another caller said that when she was young, she too was shamed. To this day, she remembers and relives the pain. I feel you, sister. Some things stick with you, and for some reason the bad stuff usually the overshadows the good...I don't know why that is
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Middle School can be an interesting, challenging, and yet... really fun time. Most of this part of my life was great, I'm sure, but one of the most prominent memories I have is about a guy who was my "boyfriend" who told me I needed liposuction. As if having braces and going through puberty wasn't enough, I got to add in the fact that I was apparently fat. Wonderful. 
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Then came High School. Truly, I had a great time in High School, but was pretty seriously emotionally damaged, and am still dealing with it today. When I "fell in love" with my high school sweetheart, I tried (and failed) to be perfect because that is what he expected. I wanted more than anything to be what he wanted me to be - to make sure he would love me, be happy, and of course proud to be my boyfriend. When dieting and exercise weren't enough, I suffered through multiple eating disorders that no one knew about. Unaware that I went to extremely unhealthy lengths to try and be perfect, he decided it would be a good idea to make a list all of my physical flaws, which I saw regularly. (Guys, here's a tip: Not.A.Good.Idea.) Further more, he would openly share these line items with me. What's  even worse...? I listened. I listened for 5 years.

Some (not all) of these line items included...
  • I was a 10, but I'd be an 11 if I got breast implants. (I almost got them.)
  • I should go to a tanning bed because it made me look thinner. Tan fat is apparently more attractive than pale fat. (I did this.)
  • Working out once a day wasn't cutting it, so I should try twice a day. Weight fluctuation was not acceptable. (I did this.)
  • Acrylic nails made me look more polished and put together. (I had them, even though I could barely afford food. Priorities, people.) 
  • I should bleach my teeth because - my smile was one of my best features. (I did this.) 
...the list continued on...and on...

To this day, I still see this list in my head. 

He wanted a trophy and while I tried, I never felt like I was good enough. For numerous reasons, including but not limited to his high expectations of me and the pressure I put on myself, we didn't last. He did marry, and his wife seems lovely. They have 2 kids, one of which is a girl. I hope he's more careful with her.
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In college, I majored in acting and minored in dance - and the number of thin, gorgeous, brilliant women around me was mind-blowing. Post-college, I was an actor and a singer waitress, and my insecurities continued to grow and grow. I believe I lived on Diet Coke alone for a few years... but I was still never enough. 
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Life continued on.  I dated, I sang, I acted, I worked, I moved many times, I got engaged and broke up with a man who was anything but right for me (overall good guy though), then proceeded to meet, fall in love with and marry the man I'd always prayed for, had a son who God graciously gifted to me, and more. So much more. While I have been blessed with a crazy amount of good times... I have recently had a revelation:  I have never really fully believed in myself. 

Ever. 
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Here I am. Continuing to live with my fear of not being pretty, thin, or even smart enough, even though my husband (the most wonderful, supportive man on planet Earth) tells me every day that I am. Bless him.

The difference between THEN and NOW is...I WANT to change.

So the question is... How do you overcome a lifetime of insecurity? Furthermore, and maybe more importantly,  how does society stop putting all of this crazy pressure on girls and women to be perfect? Because the truth is...perfection isn't perfect at all. The truth is...we are all made differently, and that is crazy beautiful.

Maybe the key is to find something uniquely beautiful in someone and focus your attention on that, instead of actively looking for a flaw. In turn, flaws won't exist because all you'll see is BEAUTY.






2 comments:

chayna rae said...

Oh lady, you are beautiful, inside and out! I hope that you believe me <3 You know I don't sugarcoat things :)
I remember learning that it takes 100 compliments to forget one negative remark! I don't know why our brains are programmed like this. I wish the next generation would be more thankful and appreciative of each other, but I am not holding my breath.
xo

Anonymous said...

That was a very inspiring post. I'm sure it took alot to finally make yourself write that. I too have felt like that for a long time. I hate that every day I constantly think about how I look and that I'm not happy with it. I'm still not sure how to change that, but I do know that we are very blessed with amazing kiddos. I enjoy reading your blog and wish you the best with trying to conquer these negative views. By the way you are extremely pretty :) Amanda