No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
A friend of mine just left after visiting me for a week over the New Year holiday. She’s a fun friend–gutsy, loud, boisterous and if you ever met her, you’d think she had nerves of steel. She is in the midst of a divorce right now and also struggling with her body image.
She never was a big girl. In high school she was about a size 8–she was always smaller than me. A few years ago, for whatever reason, she gained about 100 lbs (probably due to the stresses of being married to a man with the personality of Simon Legree). Through dicipline, hard work at the gym and by changing her eating habits she’s since lost that excess weight. While she was married and during her ‘fat period’, her husband belittled her, calling her ‘fat slob’, and saying things like, “you’re not pretty, you’re fat,” and other very hurtful things. She was deeply and negatively affected by the things her inconsiderate, thoughtless husband said to her. So now, even after shedding the bad husband and managing a 100lb weight loss, she still looks in the mirror and tells me she sees herself as fat, and has a very difficult time feeling good about herself. If only Eleanor Roosevelt were there to make it all better with her words of wisdom.
I, too, suffer from time to time with this same kind of self conciousness. I am a plus size girl, starting out as a size 14 in college, bumping up to a size 16 when I got married and gradually creeping up and up after each subsequent baby (I had five). To combat these feelings, I made up my mind I first wanted to be healthier, so I began a gym membership and figured out what I was doing wrong in terms of how I was eating. I am now a happy size 22, hoping to return to a size 16 some day. Sure, I’d be delighted if I could lose another 40lbs, but I am not obsessing over it. Despite my weight, I also know I am a wonderful, happy person with a lot to offer and a lot of love to give.
As I have tried to suggest to my friend, it’s best to look long and hard at yourself and find some things you absolutely love about yourself. Look in the mirror on a daily basis, think about, find and accentuate your positive attributes. Celebrate them and think about those elements of your body as opposed to always focusing on the negative. My attitude was, I wanted to make to make positive changes that would affect first and formost my health. If I lost weight, that would be an added bonus. I won’t allow anyone to make me feel inferior without my permission. Don’t allow people or society to do this to you either.
After I turned 40, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Almost overnight, I felt more confident, sexier and wiser than I have ever felt in my life. I didn’t feel the same. It was like the old Emily was gone and I was happy. I felt like I got an invisible shot of self confidence to set me on track for the second half of my life. Now I look in the mirror and notice the sides of my back and see how it is getting narrower and I love that little curve of my butt despite a bit of cellulite. I’ve grown my hair long and it makes me feel glamorous. I dress differently. I choose clothes that are sexier, accentuating my cleavage and I stay away from oversized tops that, despite my shrinking belly, still make me look pregnant. Instead, I like my clothes to fit a little closer, showing off the parts of my body that I feel are my positive parts.
Remember, you may never wear a smaller dress size, get bigger (or smaller) boobs, have a nose job, or whatever it is that is causing you grief. What you should do is embrace yourself, and love you more than anyone else does, despite whatever physical flaws you may think you have. When you feel good in your own skin, it becomes evident in everything you do. Let your positive attitude shine. Allow no one to make you feel self concious or worthless with out your permission. Let their words roll off your back. Remember you are a beautiful, worthwhile woman. Now, go look in the mirror, start loving your body and make Eleanor proud.