Thursday, July 19, 2007

Found her

Here’s the source of the poster I saw, it was the little girl whose caption reads “She thinks she’s ugly”:



Much as I hate to publicly declare just how sappy I really am – it makes me cry. The idea that any of these children could possibly think they are anything less than just right makes me sick.

And I know they do. I thought I was an ugly child, and carry that with me to this day (no matter WHAT my mother says about my cuteness and/or beauty and/or adorability). I was scrawny, freckly, had an overbite you could drive a hay wagon through, STUPID hair and could never stay clean for eight minutes at a stretch.

And I’m keenly aware of each and every one of my imperfections today. My wrinkles, my skin damage, my moles and zits and dandruff. The ‘mommy apron’ no amount of diet or exercise can budge even a quarter inch. Not even threatening it with a tummy tuck can make it shrink, which is saying something because I am a terrible coward and the very idea of going in for “elective” surgery, surgery I’d have to pay for out of my own pocket no less, makes every other part of me shrivel in horror.

I don’t worry about it much because I figure – eh, it’s not like it matters, I ain’t no supermodel nor am I trying to attract a mate – but even given a lack of ‘worry’, do I find myself utterly wanting in the beauty department? Even turn away from the sight of my nekkid self in the mirror, dash past it like it was a firing squad? Did I, in fact, remove a mirror from a shower caddy because catching glimpses of myself in the shower made me queasy?

Oh yes. Do, and did, and probably would again.

But you know what?

This is me, shutting up. I’m not going to sit around the common rooms of the house bemoaning my post-four-rapid-fire-pregnancies belly floppage, or scowl at my wrinkles and wonder aloud if perhaps it might be time to make an appointment with a laser while my daughters stand at my elbow…watching, listening, observing, imprinting.

Or my son, for that matter. Does he need to be taught that women should be running a constant marathon, chasing after youth and beauty and ‘perfection’ without cease? That it’s normal to be a basket case about it? That there’s something wrong with a woman who says, “Eh, whatever. I’m a healthy weight and none of my warts are cancerous – good enough for me!” and leaves the mascara and hair gel and takes back those hours of her life for other things?

Not from me he doesn’t.

Not from me.

p.s.: SHARE! Share away! I'm so sick of beautiful women thinking they aren't because they don't look like something out of a soap opera...let's talk, let's be real, let's share and discuss and maybe, just maybe, we can take away one ugly untruth from our lives.

10 comments:

Helen said...

I love that Dove commercial -- the amazing transformation from make up... followed by still more with photo shop. Unreal.
I have a friend with whom I stayed in Colo. one summer weekend. That was the first time I ever saw her w/o make up. I came down for breakfast and there was this stranger in the kitchen. I swear, I was SURE it was a different person until she spoke.

My daughter wants permission to wear eye shadow. She's 12. I've said no. Why would a 12 year old need to change her face?? She has a lovely face! Even by not-her-mother standards... I'm hoping she views it as an accessory, like a bracelet or earrings...

sigh.

luckily, she has no body image issues ... yet.

PipneyJane said...

Is there room on your soap box for me, too?

As far as I was concerned, I was a fat, ugly teenager. I still can't stand to look at the photos taken of me at that time. My hair was horrible and frizzy, I had zits you could spot from the far side of the room and I was a butterball. I wore glasses and hated them (the first thing I changed - got contacts). No clothes suited me.

That was my self-image until I was 18 or so. I believed I was unattractive and destined to be a wallflower. Nothing surprised me more when a gorgeous young man asked me out at a party. He was fit and handsome - like a 20-year-old Mel Gibson.

It took another boyfriend and a serious relationship before I began to believe that I might be attractive and, possibly, pretty. I had years of damage to shed.

Today, I don't know how to rate my looks. I'm not plain, I know that. There are days when I can look really pretty, sometimes beautiful (you've seen my wedding photos, even I reckon I was beautiful in those). But would I label myself as beautiful? I can't.

- Pam

Steph Bolinger said...

You know, I'd like to say that I want to lose some weight and exercise more because I want to be healthier, but truthfully? I want to be thinner. I don't like the way I look very much. Even though my husband of 19 years still finds me sexy, even though my kids tell me I'm "perfect", even though my friends tell me not to be so hard on myself...the voice in my head still says that I'm fat and ugly and will never be good enough, whatever "good enough" may be. When am I going to value myself for the person I am rather than how I look? I don't know.

I'm praying that my daughter will not be as hard on herself as I am. She is beautiful and I want her to feel that way - not because of how she looks, but because of who she is. Hopefully we're getting that message through to her.

21stCenturyMom said...

There were a few years in my life when I got pudgy. Maybe more than pudgy - kind of fat. They didn't last long but in that time my mother was so filled with loathing for my shape - all of her negative body image was rubbed on me like a full body grease mask.

I got thin - I was adorable in Jr. High but I never thought so.

In high school I gained some weight again. My mother told me that "nobody likes fat girls" so I knew, I absolutly knew that the second I walked into a room everyone there looked down their noses at me and wished I would go away.

I have done everything in my power to convince my girls they are beautiful and perfect and still they have image issues.

It's so wrong but it's so big. You just have to fight it tooth and nail, every single day.

Kris said...

I too was filled with freckles and frizzy hair. Sunscreen prevents the freckles, but not much, short of shellac will tame the friz.

I have to admit that I am relieved that I have a son so that I can focus on teaching him that beautiful women come in all shapes. It is a complete cop-out because I am afraid that no matter what I say that any daughter would find the pressure from the media to be more persuasive than anything mom could say.

Jeanne said...

OMG. Talk about hitting home. I was a total geek. Coke-bottle glasses, buck teeth, awkward. Then in high school, it was full-metal braces with headgear and glasses and a poorly-chosen Dorothy Hamill wedge.

At 18 the braces came off, I got contacts, and started singing in bands. I thought my self-esteem would improve. Not. Instead of worrying about being ugly, now I had to make sure I had the right image and stayed skinny. Oy.

After quitting my last band eight years ago, I got off the scrawny band-wagon and started eating again. I stopped caring about my image. Now I'm pissed at myself because I'm a size 18, I'm lumpy, and even though I have regained some of my rocker chickness thanks to pink streaks and a nose ring, I cannot disguise the belly or the arm flaps, I cannot suck my gut in and pretend it's flat, I cannot wear a velvet blazer without looking like a stuffed animal.

For that, I sometimes hate myself. But I'm working on it. I still think my face is beautiful, but my body doesn't match what I see inside anymore.

Amy Lane said...

I've always been on the plump side--to the point that, at one time in my life I said "eh?" and just GAVE UP...and now I'm totally on the obese side, and I'm mad at myself--if I had ever, just once, realized how good I looked back then, I would certainly not be where I am today--but I was so hung up on that extra twenty pounds, so damned neurotic about it, so threatened by how beautiful I WASN'T that I figured that things couldn't get much worse... brother was I wrong. Letting perfection get you down has some pretty dangerous consequences--I tell my daughter she's beautiful every day...and we both shop at the large sized fashion store and eat salads together. We do our best.

Very Herodotus said...

I have a friend at work whose 9 year old niece took a knife and carved the words "I am fat" on her abdomen.

Screwed up, isn't it?

Bells said...

God. You know I've lived my whole life thinking that no one on the planet lived with such loathing of her face as I did as a child.

Wasn't it obvious to everyone how ugly I was?

Didn't I just walk into a room and everyone sniggered and stared?

Wasn't everything in my life the way it was because of my face?

Apparently not.

I'm not free from it, but I"m better and I swear I have to get this stuff totally sorted before I have children. My husband thinks my obsession with make up is going to screw up our kids - sons or daughters.

I have to think about this.

Thank you for this post!

Science PhD Mom said...

Love the Dove ads. I wore Coke bottle glasses until I was about 12, when I INSISTED on contacts while in junior high. It was like a whole new world opened up for me with contacts...but I was still labeled as "nerdy" and that did wreak its own havoc on my self-esteem. Nerds can't possibly be pretty, you know? Still working out the quirks from that particular twisted thinking. Excellent post.