“I feel like she just goes to pose! She is THAT girl that goes places just to post.”
It might not seem like that harsh of a statement at first stance. But what if I told you that statement came from someone I thought I was friends with? What if I told you it was whispered behind my back? Would that make a difference on your scope of severity? What if I told you that it wasn’t that long ago that I hated the reflection looking back at me? How does that change your perspective? Any? Well, what if I told you that I haven’t been back to the gym since then? How about then?
It doesn’t matter if it came from a friend. It doesn’t even matter that the post was meant to be empowering to women. What matter’s is that its unkind.
Why is it so incredibly difficult for women to lift one another up? Why is it almost instinctual to belittle or outcast? Do we even recognize it anymore or has it become so commonplace that its barely recognizable?
Women look at one another and constantly embark inward insecurities and place them upon others? And for what? What good does that actually do? I earnestly don’t think it does any good in any degree. So maybe you can stop and hear me, listen to the words and ponder on the following example for even the briefest of moments, just to consider. Just to consider that maybe there is more for us to learn.
More often than not, people have the wrong perception of me. The outwardly perception people typically form rarely matches the inward perception of who I am. Of how I see myself. And maybe that’s my fault to some degree.
Two years ago I lost the very identity I had of myself; I gained 25lbs after battling a nicotine addiction. After a few skips forward I found myself driving across country away from the life I had, away from a relationship and career that no longer served me. I found myself driving back to a life I had nothing to hold on to, emotionally, financially or physically; an all time low.
So in sum, maybe an identity crisis would be a fitting category for means of painting a visual. And there’s truth in the statement that often times you have to deconstruct in order to really build yourself back, so in short, that is exactly what I did.
I started over, from below ground zero. I was mortified by the image that lurked in the mirror. For all that I have ever endured throughout my life, I at least always knew reflection in the mirror, but this time was different. This time, I couldn’t find the girl I thought I knew; I didn’t recognize the image in the mirror; I couldn’t bare to look in the mirror.
And though physical admiration was never sincerely high in my spectrum, it was the fact that I no longer had a solid ounce of appreciation for my physical attributes that obliterated my confidence. I gained a derriere overnight, my thighs became thunderous and dimples started appearing in places they didn’t belong. None of my clothing fit; I was in denial, I refused to shop, I boycotted jeans for nearly two years. I refused to buy bigger clothing. I closed myself off from the outward world as I knew it.
I can honestly say I did not love myself in that stage, I couldn’t. I think most women can relate to that. I think all humans can relate to that. Being in a stage of your life where you absolutely feel disconnected from your worth, for your inner love, from your confidence, your solace.
It wasn’t until I found myself fat shamed by someone I trusted that I first understood it wasn’t just me that had disdain in my appearances. Even if he was remorseful and apologetic, it broke me in a way I had never been broken. Maybe I never had much else growing up, but I always felt grateful for my beauty; it was the one thing no one could take from, or so I thought. Something that I lost for the first time in my life; it was a new kind of empty for me.
It was that break that pushed me to stop wallowing, to finally do something. For as long as I can remember, beauty was effortless, I never had to work for it, I never really cared about it. It was all I was ever really defined by, beauty. Thats all most people ever saw. So when I lost it, I understood the value for the first time. I suddenly appreciated all that I never appreciated before. I decided if I were going to have to work for it, I was going to go for the best version yet.
Little by little, I began to pick myself up again, I began to learn to love the person I now saw. Of course, it wasn’t without tests of courage from myself, from society, from the people I love. It wasn’t without daring to defy the odds society placed on beauty that I found true beauty in life. It wasn’t until I began to let go of the ideal perception of what society interjects on beauty that I began to reclaim myself. That I began to love myself again. That I began to feel pride for the person I saw in the mirror. And through the process I began finding empowerment in the journey, in the transformation. Self love does that to you.
Slowly but surely I started to love the reflection in the mirror, I began to love the journey itself just as much as I began to love this newest me. Maybe I still have heaps to go in terms of growth and change, but I can honestly say I love myself, for everything I am, for everything I am not, for everything I stand for.
Naturally as I grew, so did my confidence, so I started to be a light for the people in my life. I wanted to reinforce all that changed my life in hopes of touching others lives. In hopes of being a support, of being an positive example. Maybe I make it look easy, but maybe it’s a lot harder for me than it looks. Maybe just maybe it takes more courage than I let on. Maybe courage has been mistaken for vanity?
So the point? The point is you do not know what you do not know. You do not see what you are not shown. So when you make judgments on others it has a ripple effect in the world. When you say things that are unkind it has consequences. It either empowers or belittles. It either does good or harm. It either has sustenance or ignorance. There has to be accountability to our actions, to our words. We really should care about what we say and what it does.
I understand theres a delusion that beauty makes peoples lives easier, simpler for them; they are given more advantages, more edges; all mistruths. Beauty changes perceptions, it changes the way you are treated good and bad, it often incurs more ugliness than it does beauty. It often involves more challenges than it does the delusion of ease. Even the people I am friends with don’t know my struggles, don’t know my qualms. So naturally you won’t begin to know a strangers.
Maybe the lesson isn’t about me, but about ourselves. Our own self discovery. I often wonder if part of the reason people don’t maintain ownership is because they wouldn’t be proud of the person they see if they had to? Have you ever tried to be that honest with yourself? Maybe the change needs to come from the way we think, for its the thoughts that empower the words.
The truth is everyone wants what they don’t have; everyone. So the next time you see someone with something you don’t have, try to admire them rather than criticize them.