So I said this might get personal, bear w/ me…I like telling stories from my life but this also applies to women everywhere I think.
I was born into a family which includes petite women. I only grew to be 4’10”. UI have brown hair and blue eyes. I like me. BUt it took me a long time to do this.
In my middle school years, I was surrounded by peers trying to figure out what was “cool.” I saw movies in which the only thing a kid had to do to be “cool” was to have a makeover and friends appeared. This actually is a great deal how my middle school peers behaved. Towards the end of the year I convinced my mom to let me get a body wave, buy make-up & get new clothes at Macy’s. Just like that, I was “cool.”
As I got older magazines I bought told me I needed to be more than “cool.” I needed to be “beautiful.” But the models were all blonde haired and six feet tall. I did not feel I measured up.
Comments were made to me that I needed to “start watching it.” Although I was a normal sized kid, I started seeing myself as far and ugly. I could see places where I felt I needed to lose weight or to improve upon. This started me on a bad path which ended in my hospitalization & treatment for anorexia at age 13.
As time went on it became a struggle to let go of the analyzing my body, counting calories, worrying about my weight. With practice and help I was able to let go of it all by the time I reached high school.
When I was in my early 20s I was a healthy size 8 and had no problems with my appearance..I started dating someone and things seemed good. It was not long into the relationship before he started telling me things I’d heard years before…that I needed to start watching it…that his friends girlfriends were smaller and prettier….that I was lucky someone like me could find a guy to date her….I again started analyzing myself, wondering if I was “good enough” and seeing things that, in retrospect, weren’t there. When that relationship ended, I Thought I found someone else to accept me but alas this guy was the same as the one before…Self esteem and self confidence were viewed as a threat. In looking back, I was a normal weight. I was cute and funny and could have dated other people that were nicer…and I think both those guys knew that. Perhaps it was their own insecurities that lead them to want to tear me down, who knows.
It took some time on my own, reflection, maturity & general just work on my part to change the way I thought of myself, and let others project their own insecurities onto me. I’m now married with a child. I dont count calories. I stopped wearing make-up for a time because I wanted my husband & son to be used to my natural face. (Have you ever seen a woman who wears make up regularly & then are shocked to see her w/o it? I dont want to be one of those women!) I do occasionally read womens mags still but with an understanding that the vast amount of it-high fashion, expensive make-up for the entire face, the latest fast diet, the airbrushed cover model- does not apply to me. Ironically I’m a size 2 at my natural, non-calorie counting, non-food depriving self…(reference back to petite women in the family, I am one) I would be shocked & horrified if my husband (who is neither of my aforementioned past boyfriends) said anything to me about being ugly, fat or simply not good enough. I have children to set an example for too, not only in haelthy living, but healthy expectations of themselves & others.
I wish I could have skipped my 20s & gone into my more mature, more knowledgeable, more secure 30s..but live and learn.
So ok…there was a point to these anecdotes that relates to societal expectations of women, stereotypes, beauty myths…I suppose this will be a 3 part series then 🙂