I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this topic but the conclusions I came to surprised me. Some of the people who did the #20beautifulwomen challenge said things like “everyone is beautiful” or “all women are beautiful” or “we’re all beautiful”. I disagree wholeheartedly. NOT everyone is beautiful physically. There are a lot of unattractive or downright ugly people. Maybe not so much on Instagram but out in real life. You’ll see people that will make your skin crawl. A lot of the physically beautiful people are shallow or ugly inside which negates their beauty, at least in my eyes. Then there’s the people who you don’t consider beautiful at first but as you get to know them, you’re kind of struck by their beauty in every day things. Like their generosity or kindness makes them beautiful. Or how they care for their children with such love or how they handle customers or coworkers with so much humor and grace. Some people are beautiful on the outside, some are beautiful on the inside and some are beautiful inside and out.
I’ve tried to examine why I personally hate having my picture taken. It’s not just how I look physically. I don’t really think I’m ugly even though I’m overweight and have any number or imperfections. A large majority of pictures I have my eyes shut in which makes me look like a dork. That’s beside the point. I don’t like having that kind of attention where I know I’ll be judged. All this time I thought it was self-loathing. I don’t really like myself. I searched on WordPress under self-loathing and it has people who REALLY hate themselves and are into self-mutilation and self harm. That is so far from me. I don’t want to hurt myself in any way, shape or form. I appreciate the body I have and that I’m able to walk, talk and function as a normal person. I don’t take those things for granted. I do have constant feelings of self doubt. What it boils down to is I don’t believe in myself.
Beauty is nothing more than confidence. If you are a confident person, you will come across as beautiful. You will project the image that you believe you are beautiful. You are in charge and know what you’re doing. Most of the time I feel like I’m posing as an adult. An imposter who is just winging it as I go through life.
I have a whole other post I need to write about being overweight and what that does to a person’s psyche. Especially a lifetime of being fat and all that goes with it. To shorten the story some, I’ll just say that I was fat since birth. As kids will, I was constantly teased and called Fatso. It made me cry. I cried a lot. I felt powerless over my weight and powerless over how others saw me. I was bullied by 3 different kids in our neighborhood, one included daily beatings. Society was different back then and it was just accepted. An older 6th grade girl got up in my face one day (about 2 inches away) on the school playground at recess. I wasn’t older than 3rd grade but may have been even younger. I didn’t know this girl from Adam and she felt the need to say, “You are so ugly.” Wow. It was unprovoked and I had no response. I just started to cry. Looking back, this girl was super homely herself but I would never go out of my way to hurt someone like that, even if it was true.
Obviously, I have gotten over the above incident and the majority of the other teasing and name calling. However, it did change me in a profound way. I became even shyer. I was a shy kid already and this just made me go into my shell more. I had friends but for the most part, I tried to blend into the woodwork. If someone felt the need to tell me I was ugly, I needed to not be seen. To stay out of the way and not make people have to look at me. When I got to Jr. High School (7th-9th grade), it was a new start and I rose above all this. I even became somewhat popular and loved school. This lasted until I went to High School.
Anyway, feeling that kind of judgement makes me self conscious about everything I do in public. To this day, I’m horribly self-conscious. I don’t know how to fix it. Even making someone wait behind me while I count out change in the checkout lane makes me nervous. I feel like I’m not worthy of holding them up. Or any number of things I might do in front of someone, I feel like even if they don’t say anything they are thinking bad things of me. I don’t talk about this but it is always there.
I don’t feel worthy as a human being a lot of the time. I avoid mirrors. I was raised without a lot of compliments. My dad never gave compliments and my mom was raised without getting them so for her, the best thing she could say was that I looked, “Clean from home.” My dad never told me he loved me which is par for his generation but it still made me insecure. My mom told me and I believed her. I always felt like parents are supposed to love you and when one of them can’t, it has to be my fault. Well, after my dad died, I figured out it had nothing to do with me. However, it still had been ingrained in me for my entire childhood. I would hear my dad talking about my acne or how I needed to lose weight. Even my mom wanted me to lose weight the worst way. I have never wanted to be loved for physical beauty. The Amish side of me wants to be loved because I’m a good person. My husband has told me I’m beautiful (once in a blue moon) but I have a hard time believing it. He also likes to tell me, “You’re such a good person.” I believe him but wonder why no one else notices.
After reaching adulthood, no one dared say outright how fat I was or call me Fatso. But I would catch people talking about me behind my back. Like in a bathroom stall at work. I almost had a panic attack when I heard 2 women I hardly knew talking about me and just picking me apart. They didn’t know I was in there and I stayed in there until they left so they never knew. These 2 women were about the same size as me, maybe a bit bigger. They dolled themselves up though with makeup and hairspray. I just didn’t measure up to their standards.
I don’t know how to love myself. Or even like myself. There’s parts of me that I like but not my looks. It wouldn’t matter if I lost weight, I would still feel the same way about myself. I know this because when I was younger, I did lose weight and I still had no confidence or self esteem.
I admit I am a bit jealous of those with high self esteem. Those that can look at themselves in a mirror and think they look fabulous. I’ve often wondered how everyone else gets such a high opinion of themselves. Do they give themselves pep talks daily? Tell themselves how wonderful they are if no one else will? There’s a woman about 650 lbs. on Instagram who people are constantly telling her “you’re so beautiful”. I don’t get it. I’m not saying she couldn’t be beautiful at that weight. I don’t know if they really mean it since to me, she’s not. But she acts like she believes it and agrees with them. I wouldn’t want people telling that to me unless they truly felt that way and even then it would make me uncomfortable.
There’s a book I heard about called “Unworthy: How To Stop Hating Yourself” by Anneli Rufus. If anyone’s read this and think it would help, let me know. Otherwise if you’ve gone through anything similar or know what steps to take to make me like myself, do tell. I’m all ears! In the meantime, I’ll be looking at all the selfies for the #20beautifulwomenchallenge and feeling left out and out of place. I should be used to it by now, I’ve had enough practice.