Good morning! I had an A.MAY.ZING. opportunity to write a post of The Beauty Message Challenge today and would like to share it here on my blog as well. I encourage you to visit the site for yourself, but here is the piece I wrote. This is a reflection of the journey I’ve been on for years to accept & love myself for who I am. All I can tell you is that it’s been a day-to-day process and I’m still getting on my way.
When I was twenty-years, my mom wisely instructed me, “You cannot expect someone to love you until you love yourself.” Like any naïve girl at that age, I rolled my eyes thinking about the boy that I was in love with at that time: When he loves me (too), then I’ll start loving myself.
Seven years later I roll my eyes at that thought, acknowledging what a fool I was. Mom, you were right and I only wish I realized that sooner.
This is a photo of me when I was a little girl who was not yet scarred by the world and the misconception of what it means to be beautiful. Unfortunately that happened a few years later and began a long journey of struggle. Enter Middle School: When the term ‘friend’ quickly changed to ‘frienemy’ and the word ‘jealousy’ was most likely used by mothers in an attempt to explain why the girls in the class were being…well…mean. “They’re just jealous because you’re pretty, nice, and successful.” I heard it over and over again when I’d come home from school wondering another one of my ‘friends’ had turned on me and was now sitting with those other girls, wearing make-up, and dressing a little….slutty.
Without an older sister and struggling to figure out who my true friends were, I found myself wondering if I had to change too. This was also the time in our lives when boyfriends began entering our adolescent lives. Without one myself, I fell into the trap of thinking, “If I was prettier, would I have a boyfriend too?”
I only wish I knew then what I know now. As strong and independent as I am, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve spent too much of my life believing that being beautiful focuses on our looks, based on our perceptions and/or society’s standards. I agree with most of the previous bloggers in supporting that we aspire to feel beautiful. But how do we achieve that? My friend brought up an interesting concept on her blog this week, and now I share it with you: “…how do you undo that damage? How do you look in the mirror after 28 years of not liking what you see and say ‘yes, this is beautiful’?”
As difficult as it is for me to admit, I write from the viewpoint of someone who suffered from eating disorders and negative body image since my awkward teen years began. There was a time in my life- longer than I’d like to admit- that I had a hard time looking at myself in the mirror, especially without make-up on!
But as they say, time heals all wounds. This is a recent photo of me with my friend’s daughter, Hazel. Since she entered my life two years ago, I found myself understanding the truth of beauty. This little two-year old showed me the beauty that lies within me.
My hope is that Hazel is able to bypass all the struggles and see this truth long before I saw it. It’s there, Hazel. I promise you. Sometimes you may have to clear your weary eyes to see it, but the beauty is always there- around us, and within us.
Earlier today I looked at myself in a full length mirror, with absolutely no make-up and my hair pulled back in pigtail braids. Then, a few short hours later, I indulged in some banana & chocolate pancakes. I say this because neither things are ones I would not have done in the past nor would imagine ever doing. This is how I know that I’m closer to loving myself.
Loving yourself is a day-to-day endeavor. It’s a struggle but achievable. It takes strength and courage, but more importantly it takes belief and determination. If you believe you can love yourself- fully and completely- and strive to make that happen, then you will. Take it one day at a time and one day you’ll know you’re there. And when you get there, you’ll look back and know that each and every struggle was worth it and brought you to this day. Now that’s beautiful. ♥
“The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within-strength, courage, dignity.”
~ Ruby Dee