As a young girl, I was told that when I grew up, I would see how beautiful I truly was.
I can remember staring at a girl, picking out every little flaw that I could find. Her nose sloped too much; her ears were too big, and her hair always looked like a mess no matter what she did to it. My actions were cruel. After about 5 minutes of staring, I started torturing. Pulling back her ears and grabbing whatever I thought her body had too much of; she began to cry. Sobbing so hard she could barely breathe. The words I was spewing were vicious and evil. Any little bit of self-confidence that this girl may have had, I destroyed in a matter of minutes. I watched her fall apart as she asked over and over again why she couldn’t just be beautiful like everyone else. When she finally calmed down, I watched her take the deepest breath she had ever taken. She took off her bathing suit, put on a giant t-shirt and closed the closet door.
The girl I had just mentally destroyed was not a stranger. She was not a friend, nor was she a relative. This girl was the young woman staring back at me in the mirror.
That girl was me.
To this day, I have yet to acquire this ‘adult self-assurance’ that everyone speaks of. I’m wearing the same skin I’ve always worn, so why would I feel differently about myself? I’m beginning to fear that I’ll never like the reflection that’s staring back at me. Perhaps I will always be unhappy with myself whenever I put on one of those, “goal” outfits in my closet or old bathing suits laying dormant in my drawer.
It’s frightening to think I may never love myself. But, the truth is, I have always been this way.
You see, I never liked my reflection. I never thought it was ‘fair’ that so many girls were born beautiful (by society’s standards). They had perfect bodies, and I had what I had. I would do 100 sit-ups every night starting at the age of 10, in hope that my imperfections would disappear. I wore big baggy clothes to hide a body that I wasn’t proud of.
I can recall being sad for my mother because growing up I was her little Barbie doll. I always had the prettiest dresses, perfect hair, and the cutest little shoes. Her favorite thing to do was to dress me, but I had made her stop because she dressed me for a body she thought I had, not the body I had.
The beach was the scariest place for me. Not because I couldn’t swim or because I was afraid of sharks, but because I knew it meant I’d have to wear a bathing suit. At ten years old I had a breakdown in the dressing room at the mall because ‘nothing looked right’ and all I saw was this disgusting, unattractive person in the mirror. I was breaking my mother’s heart with each tear running down my face. She couldn’t understand why I saw myself in such a horrible light.
This only got worse as I got older.
Middle school was the worst few years of my life. As if you’re not awkward enough in your pre-teens, try adding zero self-worth to the equation. The more I think about it, the more I don’t understand how I made it out alive.
High school, wasn’t much better. The sweats, the Uggs & old sneakers; the baggy sweatshirts that were worn until it was 85 degrees out. I hated my skin. I remember praying for it to get better as I got older. Maybe, all I had to do was leave high school, and I’d finally be okay. I wouldn’t be surrounded by beautiful people every day to remind me of what I was never going to be.
I realized there was no end in sight when it came to my self torture.
The gym didn’t make a difference. No fad diets or quick fixes helped. I even dyed and cut my hair, but I was still me. I’ll be honest, every once in a while I felt like I had an okay day. This usually occurred when I was wearing a shapeless dress or oversized shirt.
I didn’t care if I had to wear a potato sack, as long as I felt comfortable around others. My issues with my body started affecting my relationships with the people in my life, especially my boyfriend at the time. I mean, try explaining to someone who finds you beautiful that you have no self-confidence, and they can’t stand what you see in the mirror. He started to think I was either doing it for the attention or that I was simply out of my mind.
I didn’t want attention. I wanted the exact opposite actually. But more so, I just wanted to find confidence.
I see so many women and men today who embrace who they are. They live their lives forgetting about their insecurities and self-doubt. These people have learned to own their skin regardless of what the world says you should look like.
Loving the person staring back at you in the mirror isn’t arrogant or vain; it’s happiness and it is all I have ever wanted in my life.
If you walked into my bedroom today, you would find no visible mirrors. There isn’t one hanging over my dresser, standing in the corner of my room or laying on my night stand. The one, 10 dollar mirror I have is on the inside of my closet door. It’s there to make sure I’m somewhat acceptable when I walk out the door and for the rare occasions of when I try to make myself look better with makeup and curling irons. All other times the door is shut so that I don’t have to stare at the same girl I’ve been staring at and verbally abusing for over fifteen years. It’s sad to not feel comfortable in who you are. It makes you feel pathetic and unworthy of the life you were given.
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize this isn’t just me. This is a prevalent epidemic that seems to be growing rapidly.
My current 25-year-old self still feels the pain of having to see what I see when I look into the mirror. I’m at the point in my life where I’ve realized I’m stuck with what I have, and instead of embracing it, I still cry. I try each day to remember that beauty is only skin deep and just because I don’t see a picture of perfection in the reflection, doesn’t mean other people don’t see it. It’s not easy and until now, this was a well-kept secret. I still hope that as I get older, I start seeing the beauty others see. Until that day, the mirror will stay hidden and the clothes hanging in my closet will remain there.
To those who feel the same way I do, I need you to know this: you are not alone. Many of us are fighting this battle. We can do it together… even if we feel alone.
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