I can only speak for myself, but I know that a lot of teenage girls and young women at least where I am from at one point or another, if not for a long period of time struggle with body image, self image and self confidence. We base a lot of our self worth and self confidence off what we are told, taught, and what we see through the media. Our culture has gotten so caught up in attaining an unattainable image that we are being force fed. At the same time we also wonder why so many teenagers and young adults develop eating disorders.
Beauty is more than skin deep. There is more to who we are than what size we wear, the number on the scale, and the image the media forces upon us.
I am not immune to any of this. From a young age I was ugly fat girl. I have always struggled with food being the enemy, and until I was in college I was never really taught that Food is not the enemy, but how to make good food choices, and that I don’t have to give up the things that taste good, just balance out what I eat. I was also one who at times ate my feelings, or went hungry, to achieve a more acceptable body according to the media and my mother. My freshmen year I was definitely malnourished, and lost at least 20 pounds because I was eating too few calories. Many of you may be thinking “why didn’t your parents intervene?” They didn’t take the time to notice that I wasn’t eating, and that I was skipping dinner daily. I went to bed hungry because I was ashamed of my body, and what I looked like.
Rebuilding your self image will take hard work, and what worked for me may or may not work for someone else. For me, tuning out the haters, and those that put me down, talked crap about be to my face or behind my back, and telling myself that those who took issue with my weight, and treated me like I was less of a person or somehow worth less than them because of my weight, or that I was not as “pretty” as them, are the ones with the issues. There are people in my life who have helped me to rebuild my self image by loving me and accepting me for who I am.
I am still a ways of from where I would like to be, but I have come a long way from where I was in middle school and high school. It will help when I am able to move away from the two people who have tortured me enough so far in my life to last for several life times, and they are the ones who should really be there to help build up a positive self image, but they have been more destructive than anything.
For me, taking the negative and destructive things with a grain of salt is hard, when it is coming at you a mile a minute, but it can be done. Yes, it still gets to me at times, and fighting back sometimes only makes things worse when you are around people who believe they are never wrong 100% of the time and you should kiss the ground they walk on (yet they whine and complain worse than a little kid when something doesn’t go their way or doesn’t go the way they wanted). With certain people that have given me the “suck it up and deal with it” stance, I have fed it right back to them, because life isn’t fair, and they can’t get their way 100% of the time, and we all have to do things in life we don’t like.
Letting people do nice things for me, still feels really foreign. I have spent so many years bending over backwards (I had to), and not having people do nice things for me because they want to, that it is taking me some time to get used to the fact that there are still people out there who like to do nice things for the people they care about.
There came a point where I had to choose whether I was going to continue to let others life my life for me, and continue walking all over me, or if I was going to reclaim my life, and stand up for myself. I chose to reclaim my life, and work on improving my self image, and stand up for myself.