I don’t want to write this post. I don’t want to be melodramatic about this, but if I’m not (and where better else than the internet?), then I’m afraid I won’t change.
I’m tired of beating myself up over how I look. Even before I got pregnant, but especially during and now constantly after, it’s this inner turmoil that gnaws away at my self-worth, bit by bit. Every day, when I get ready in the morning, when I pass a reflective surface, when I look down, when I look left, when I look right, I just hate. I dissect my face – it’s uneven, one eye larger than the other, crooked smile, unbalanced nostrils, scars and scabs. My body, it’s worse. Fleshy and pulpy, and not in a curvaceous, Rubenesque-way. It’s the leftover skin that once helped house babies. But it was pulled tight then. I could go on – my feet, my teeth, my hair (constant battle), even my hands and fingers. As familiar as these parts are to me, they are not my friends.
Although I have always been self-conscious, I find I more and more arrange my life around my insecurities. I wear a lot of black – it hides and is very forgiving. I am extremely particular about the length of my pants. I have to balance the amount of jewelry I wear so as to not draw attention in a certain way. I can’t leave the house without scrutinizing my appearance. When being photographed, I have to set myself up – stick head out a little, turn to a certain angle, don’t show too much teeth. I just can’t turn it off. And the only things that comfort me and distract me from my hang-ups are damaging – picking at blemishes, eating entire packages of cookies, often both of these things at once. They soothe me and have become almost involuntary reactions to stress of any kind.
I’m pretty sure this is how most women feel, and yet it’s a lonely way to be. I don’t think I know a single female who has an entirely healthy self-image. Young girls are groomed to be this way and they are bombarded constantly from as early as the preschool years. My five-year-old daughter only feels pretty when she wears skirts. She’s cried a few times already over bad hair days. Five years old. How do I stop this?
I love Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. Although there’s certainly a shred of ulterior motive to sell Dove products, it does strike me as a noble effort to begin reversing the damage the media has done to the esteem of young girls. But the blame can’t entirely be placed on the media, evil as they are.
It’s what we do to eachother and to ourselves. It’s the girls who cut eachother down. It’s the thirteen-year-old inside of me who will always feel awkward and stupid and insecure, regardless of how old I get or how beautiful other people perceive me to be.
How do I stop this? How does anyone stop this? I do not know. But if I make strides toward having more self-worth, then maybe my girls will, too. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop criticizing myself entirely; to say that would be setting myself up for failure. But when I start feeling the anxiety rise in my throat when my shirt doesn’t make my tits look perky or camoflauge my inflated ass, I’ll stop. I’ll breathe. I’ll get over it and leave the house, because living in a state of panic and self-doubt isn’t really living.
I’m starting a project on Flickr: day one of my 365, day one of trying to let it all go, day one of just trying to be myself, day one of that being good enough.