I have had some interesting reactions to Beauty Through Love since sharing it less than two months ago. Most friends have been incredibly supportive (thank you, especially since I’m pretty sure it’s only friends reading it). Some are shocked. Responses have ranged from, “Wow – you are so brave” to “You are really putting it all out there” or to my personal favorite, “Hmm. I am not sure I want to read it. It makes me feel uncomfortable.” I don’t see myself as brave, nor do I want to be the type of ‘car-crash, oversharing blog’ which makes people feel uncom-fortable. That said, everyone has a different threshold, so feel free to look away if this is too much for you.
One reaction I didn’t expect, but have heard numerous times goes something like this, “It seems like you are trying to talk to women who are struggling with their appearance, or self-worth. Why should they listen to you, and what would you know about that?” I am usually floored by this one. While I appreciate the compliment they are trying to give me, the child-like part of my brain goes straight back to being the girl teased in the playground, and I forget that they don’t see her as well.
I guess it was a good reminder for me, that it’s human nature to judge a book by it’s cover. Regardless of whether we intend to or not. None of us can know how someone is feeling, or perceiving the world, by look-ing at them. We might see someone who appears to ‘have it all’ on the outside. Someone with a perfect body, lots of money… and think, “Wow life must be so easy for them” when in reality their life is any-thing but perfect (celebrities are a great example). Or conversely, we may see someone who looks less than healthy, and assume they look that way as a result of lifestyle choices, and label them as ‘lazy’ when in reality we know nothing about their story.
As another reminder about judging, I want to break out of my comfort zone, and share some ‘then and now’ pics. Thanks mum for digging these out of the family archives. Until recently, I would have rathered they stayed safely hidden (and not just because of the bad fashion choices).
Now, some may say the chubby cheeks are cute or squeezable. There was nothing cute about living as her. It was a daily pain of deeply believing I was not good enough – based entirely on my appearance – due to feedback that the outside world gave me (yes the playground can be a bitch). I am not sharing this because I want affirmation or sympathy, from others. I am not being ‘brave’. Maybe I am being vulnerable? Trying to show this IS something I have struggled with? A picture tells a thousand words. Learning to change, on an emotional level, is something I have spent years studying and refining. Learning how to heal myself from the inside out is how I became who I am today. The whole story, cheeks and all, is a gift for which I am grateful.
But don’t be fooled, it’s still a daily challenge to choose love over self-doubt. That little lonely girl still lives inside me. Call this uncomfortable if you wish, but if I help one other woman realize that she is ‘already enough’, then my so-called ‘bravery’ has been worth it. Finding that feeling of enough-ness, and loving yourself regardless of how you look, not because of it, is the only way to ever change things. Oh, and for those who are wondering, it was never really about diet or exercise…