It’s no secret that the world is full of images, opinions, stereotypes that can really f*$% with our self images. Barbie is beautiful, perfect, every little girl wants to be her. I spent my entire childhood thinking that one particular type of woman was beautiful. It threw me into a world of self doubt and an eating disorder to try to achieve what I “thought” would make me beautiful. In college I joined a gym and started working with a trainer. I told him my goals and he looked me dead in the eye and told me, You have nothing you can lose. In fact the number on the scale is going to go up, because you’ll build muscle, you need to start looking at things much differently. I could tell by the look on his face, without me saying a word, that he knew what I had been doing to myself for many years. I suddenly was just as ashamed of what I had been doing to myself for all those years as the reasons I had started to begin with. Now here’s the scariest truth, the man who put these thoughts in my head without even realizing he was doing it, my father. A year after I started working with the trainer and learning to see myself differently, I was finally comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t feel attractive, but I was comfortable in my own skin and that was a win.
I wish I could say that I had met a man who made me feel beautiful and I stayed comfortable in my own skin, but in fact, just the opposite. I spent the next 20 years regardless of what condition I was in feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I’ll never forget the first time he literally watched another woman walk by. Now let’s be realistic, everyone, all men and women, (and if you try to disagree you’re foolish) look…all the time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but what he did was turn completely around in his seat and gawk as this woman as she walked past our table. Have some class, do it discretely! We were still just dating. I should have taken that as a clue, but lets face it, I’ve got a track record for making REALLY (and I mean REALLY like 0 for how many ever attempts…there’s no hope for me!) crappy choices in men. He managed to destroy that “comfort” I once felt over and over again for years.
A year ago I would have still told you that I wasn’t good enough. I put up with sh#t from men that I never should have, all because I felt like I was lucky to even get a little bit of attention. In hindsight, so stupid. There were plenty of good men that didn’t treat me like crap, but I just didn’t believe them. To be honest this is how I operated for the entire year last year.
In an effort to start taking some control back of my life, as it had been spinning out of control for so long, I started lifting weights again. Eating disorders are often more about control. Mine has always been worse when my life is spinning. I can control what I eat or in this case don’t eat and feel powerful over the fact that I can keep those calories so low, bonus if no one notices what I’m doing because I’m still “eating” after all. Lifting gives me that same sense of power and control, without the harm. I can work toward a goal or at least for those hours in the gym feel powerful and in control. A couple of months in I hurt my back and had to take it easy for a bit. Finally just before Christmas I decided to go back and start again. I was going to make 2019 different, and that had to start with my mindset.
I’ve been back at it for a couple of months now, and used that time in the gym to get my head straight again. The first couple of weeks I just kept seeing this imagine of Barbie or really, just women I would say are Barbie. Tall, blonde and beautiful, something I can never be. Notice I said nothing about their personality or souls, the things that should matter, just what they looked like. I was getting all sort of angry at the way someone looked, just because it made me feel so insecure.
Then it hit me. I don’t go to the gym for anyone but myself. I don’t go for what YOU think when you see me. Sure its a bonus, but I could give a crap less what anyone thinks at this point. I’ve spent far to much energy and shed way too many f#$$en tears over the opinions of other people to give a damn anymore. What I do have control over is how hard I work to take the unique things I have, like my calf muscles, and make them even better. Fun fact, did you know your ability to have bigger calf muscles is 90% genetic. So while I do work hard on them to get the definition I have, its a genetic gift too. So why was I letting a hair color make me feel so insecure?
At some point I had still become so irritated by the thought of blonde hair I decided to dye my hair a dark brown. This might have come from at least a dozen people recently asking what my natural hair color was (it was blonde when I was a kid and became darker as I got older). My daughter asked why I chose that particular color. I said I wanted to be Wonder Woman. Screw being Barbie, I don’t want Ken, a pink convertible and a mansion…I want a Lasso of Truth. And lets face it she’s a bad ass, who wouldn’t want to be her.
I guess no matter how hard I try to just be comfortable in my own skin, the world around me is going to always have me wishing I was someone else. I might as well make it someone or a “type” I’d be proud of my girls for striving for as well. More importantly teaching them to be comfortable and confident in who they are, have a good heart, a beautiful soul, and work with their god given talents, abilities and whatever genetics gave them to be the most amazing women they can be.