I grew up being taught that I am not beautiful, that my natural state was not acceptable and needed to be changed.
Now, no one flat out ever said to me “you are ugly”, but indirectly it was hammered into my little child brain.
I was a fat kid, not even gonna say chubby, I was proper fat, and I loved food ( I still do, and I don’t think that will ever change). I was taunted and teased by grownups who thought they were funny, kids whose parents didn’t teach them better and I was made to feel inadequate later on by teen magazines.
One incident I will never forget was a birthday party in 8th grade at a friend’s house. Her parents were ordering pizza for us, and I overheard her mom snickering about my weight, 20 years later, I never forgot.
I was also taught that my long curly hair should always be straightened. I was subjected to years of blow drying, chemical treatments and everything my mom could get her hands on to straighten my hair so that it’s pretty.
I was a straight A student, I was funny, I started my first business in 2nd grade (I swear it’s true)and I was quiet athletic, yet, I never learned to see these things, I always felt awkward, inadequate and never enough.
As the years went on, this manifested deeper, I always tried to conform on the physical level, I battled bulimia for years, developed binge eating habits, took fat burners and treated my body so harshly because I hated it and had no respect for it. Needless to say, I have been undergoing digestive track treatments for the past 10 years, and from the looks of it, I have another 10 years to go.
I would crash diet to look pretty for boys, or to please those around me, I never did it for myself, for my own health.
I lost half of my hair between dyes, chemical treatments and blow drying until I one day looked at an old picture and wanted to cry.
Far more dangerous than the physical implications were the psychological ones, I always tried to overextend myself in everything else, so people would look beyond my “ugliness” and love me for what I could do for them.
I settled for the wrong relationships, even tolerated abuse, because I did not feel that I was worthy of love.
I always do everything at 110% because I always felt that everything was never enough.
I didn’t love myself so by default, I didn’t respect it, or stand up for it, until a year ago when I broke it.
It took a year of reading, educating myself and speaking kindly to myself for my attitude towards me to change. My childhood insecurities still rear their ugly head, but I’ve educated myself to be more lenient and kinder to myself, to love myself with everything about me. I am humanly imperfect and that is beauty.
If you are a parent, a sibling, a friend or a significant other, be kind with your words. Don’t make someone feel unworthy and think of it as “tough love.” Teach your children that judgements are not ok, that bullying is damaging and that feelings count.
Teach your children to love themselves and more importantly learn to love them as they are, because one day, they will grow up and reflect upon themselves the worth you made them feel. Do not depreciate your children.
Be kind, be gentle, be soft, be constructive, and please be human.