I grew up not caring much about clothes or hair and makeup, until one brash day when it all hit me. I was more of a tomboy. I wore hand-me-downs and didn’t think twice about it. I loved my neon green shorts and oversized t-shirts. My hair was either in braids or pony tails. I didn’t have a care in the world about how I looked. When I was about 10 or 11 on two different occasions my cousin and then my best friend locked me in the bathroom and put makeup on me. ( yes it literally took pinning me to the toilet seat for my cousin to get eyeliner on me) Soon I saw the girls around me changing in body shape and type. They began wearing “fashionable” clothing and caring about what their hair looked like. Up until then my hair had been straight and blonde, now as I hit puberty it became curly and frizzy. I was still a shapeless stick, and my best friend in middle school reminded of that. She was a “perfect hourglass shape”. When girls on the softball team would comment on my jeans with holes in the knees, I thought they were making fun of my hand-me-downs. Little did I know it was becoming a trend. Around 14 my mother began to become very strict about my clothing. I had to wear baggy pants and loose men’s sweatshirts. I wasn’t aloud to wear makeup (except for lipgloss and clear mascara ) and she cut my hair short. ( short frizzy hair ) I was often mistaken for a boy while I was 14 and 15. I wasn’t aloud to date, boys and men were bad and untrustworthy. At age 16 I had already been put on several diets. Most of them were excused by behavior or “health improvement”. No sugar. No meat. No dairy. No carbs. “They make you moody” “They aren’t good for you” “Meat is gross and dirty”. Around that time my mother developed an eating disorder. She began with not joining us at the table, soon she was throwing up anything she did eat. I remember laying in my bed on night sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow, “My mom is bulimic”. The reality of it was heartbreaking for a 16 year old who was trying to find her way in this world and searching for beauty and self definition.
The year I turned 17 changed the course of my life. I won’t get into details right now, but at 98 lbs with pale white skin I left home and sought the world for change and definition. The next few years I found self worth and beauty in some of the worst and oddest places. There were still some amazing people in my life that helped me find the truth a little at a time, but it took years to undo what had been done. Even more to undo what I did in response to my girlhood pain. Every kind of eating disorder, I struggled with it. There were days in college when I ate a total of 300 calories. Any more and I’d become too fat. When that didn’t work I would binge and purge. I cut and burned myself. I hated my body. I hated who I was on the inside. I didn’t know how to separate the two. I didn’t know how to get the voices out of my head that said I wasn’t the right body type or that I was something to be covered up and ashamed of.
I don’t know how it happened. I can’t write you a three step guide or quick fix. It was years of the right people, circumstances, self discovery, and….time. Sweet, healing time.
Now I am a grown adult, married, and four and a half months pregnant with our first child. Talk about a trigger for all those things of the past to rear their ugly heads. Yet, the other day when I looked in the mirror you know what I saw? It wasn’t my mother. It wasn’t the “fat” reflection from college. It was a gorgeous woman with sexy curves and a beautiful baby growing inside of her. Oh there are days, but they are few and far between compared to five or ten years ago. I don’t want t bring a child into this world with those horrible mind sets still rolling carelessly off of my tongue. I want them to see the beauty that comes from within. The confidence in who I am to be a good thing, not a negative thing. My mother was very confident in who she was, she was confident she was an ugly failure. I want my children to see I am confident that I am a loving, generous, hardworking, creative person. THAT is what defines me and makes me beautiful. My internal beauty. If I have that, then I need not worry about anything else. What is more beautiful than a confidant smile, a giving heart, a caring word? Nothing.
Here is a video that has been going around of an amazing young woman. Listening to her encouraged me and brought a smile and reassurance. I hope you enjoy it as well.