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(Guest Post) When The Mirror Looked At Me — twenty(or)something: the archives

(Guest Post) When The Mirror Looked At Me

by Susan Pogorzelski on April 26, 2011 · 8 comments

I wondered if I could trade my body with somebody else in magazines
Would the whole world fall at my feet?
I felt unworthy and would blame my failures on the ugliness I could see
When the mirror looked at me…
-Natasha Bedingfield, “Freckles”

 

Play the hand you were dealt.

This is a really popular adage for dealing with the shortcomings, frustrations and hassles of our families and bodies. You know, the sort of things we can’t control but have to deal with. This acutely felt in regards to body image, creating what I like to call: the grass is greener effect. The “grass is greener effect” is really interesting because as a culture, we’ve developed into a species that finds pleasure in coveting other peoples’ goods, traits or talents.

I once saw a program that discussed celebrity trends; if more women in Hollywood began to dye their hair brown, then more regular women did it too. The “grass is greener” effect suggests that whatever that person has is ten times better than what you’ve got, so if you copy them, then you’ll get what they’ve got.

This is the sort of mindset I’ve taken in regards to my own body. While I’m astutely aware that everyone has unique challenges and frustrates with their physical forms, I can’t help but feel that they’ve got what I want. Luckily for me, I believe enough to assume there must be a reason for my own level of unattractiveness.

So I asked: why do I have the body that I do? Why wasn’t I born any other way?

I thought of all the spiritual, new age texts I had read describing what I was currently experiencing – this thought process of how the physical form should be respected and honored since it houses our Spirit, our divine essence.

Why am I crying? What’s the big flipping deal?

Because I hate my body.

In fact, I’ve hated myself since I was a kid. My whole life, as a petite and thin girl, I’ve anxiously awaited the puberty fairy to show up, panting at my front door, begging for an apology over his late arrival. And with all good customer service, he’d add a little extra to my plate: make me taller, bustier, nicer skin. Practically overnight I’d achieve the ultimate growth spurt, and wouldn’t have to be envious of fourteen year old girls anymore. Finally! I’d be attractive! Unfortunately, the puberty fairy gladly left exploding acne and painful menstruation as he sped on to bless some other girl.

How come some girls get to be curvy and busty and pretty? How come I can’t get the life challenge of being too pretty for my own good? It sounds a lot like whining, doesn’t it?

The grass is always greener on the other side.

Why get caught up in that mentality? What am I getting out of it? Self-acceptance is hard. It means looking at yourself, physically and otherwise, and saying that it’s okay. I’m a size zero, and I feel unwomanly, invisible and a target for other people’s unhappiness. But people look at me and think how can I be unhappy when America is so thin-obsessed? I should be thrilled right? But I’m so miserable there are days when I can barely stand it. Grass is greener effect.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any deep, spiritual words of wisdom or insight to impart on you. Most of the time I’m running around trying to find ways to accept my ugliness for what it is, and trying to find the silver lining. But how can I attempt to be a spiritual person if I can’t abide by the most basic of tenets: I was made exactly in the way I was meant to look.

But it feels dirty, like I’m lying. And self-loathing is easy, it’s like breathing. But I’m kind of working it – hey I wrote this post! – but I’m still going to wait for the puberty fairy to show up. Maybe he’s making second rounds.

About the Author: Tatiana Christian is new to the blogging arena, but can’t wait to really get the ball rolling with her blog, Parisian Feline. She’s in love with animals – especially felines – cinema, race representation in cinema, spirituality and body image/self-esteem issues with women to name a few. She’s always happy to find and read new blogs, especially yours. Catch her on Twitter at @parisianfeline


(Ed. Note: There are some great foundations and campaigns out there that focus on building self-esteem for girls and young women, including Heartlight Girls, a website by Debra Gano (@heartlightgirls)  whose initiative is to empower girls and young women “from the inside out,” and the  Dove Movement for Self-Esteem — both are non-affiliate links.)


“‘Cause a face without freckles is like a sky without stars
Why waste a second not loving who you are
Those little imperfections make you beautiful, lovable, valuable,
They show your personality inside your heart
Reflecting who you are…”


 Tatiana is taking part in a two-month guest series featuring writers across the blogosphere.
The series is winding down — if you’re still interested in a guest post spot, email me at
twentyorsomething [at] gmail.com or say hi on Twitter!

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Pogorzelski April 26, 2011

Tatiana – when I was reading this submission I told you that I either wanted to cry or hug you, and the more I read it, the more I realized I wanted to do both.

As I told you in our email exchange, I understand self-loathing, which is why this breaks my heart. I understand it, and I understand this:

“And self-loathing is easy, it’s like breathing.”

You’re so right, it’s so easy, especially when you feel the need to compare yourself to others or, what’s worse, especially when others do that for you. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum – I’m overweight and, when I’m at my very lowest, I wonder how can anyone possibly love me as I am, wonder why they wouldn’t pass me up for someone who is prettier or skinnier or smarter or more talented or [fill in any other attribute here]. But when I’m at my best, at my strongest, I realize just how bullshit that is. Because this is me, right now. And people can love me as I am or they don’t have to, but I don’t have to feel bad about myself because of it. (Though easier said than done.)

We are our own worst enemy. These past few months, I’ve battled insecurities, to which my cousin wisely asked, “would you say such negative things about another person?” The answer was no – absolutely not. So then, why are we so eager to look at the flaws in ourselves? Personally, I’ve come to accept my weight and, when I look in the mirror, I see myself as pretty and feel, dare I even say it, sexy sometimes. I feel good, and though those moments are rare and sometimes fleeting, that’s what I hold onto. I mentioned before that while I can see myself as pretty, I didn’t think that anyone else could and therein lies my own poison, the self-loathing that haunts, that whisper saying no one will – that there are others who are prettier, smarter, and kinder than you.

It’s poison. It’s a poison that we feed ourselves, that we allow society to partake in when they show us images of who we should be…Or who they think we should be. But not who we are. The funny thing is – when you look at those picture, you see the physical beauty, but not the soul beauty – who the person is.

Maybe that’s what’s lacking, what does the most damage. Looking at the entertainment industry – the magazines, the movies – we tend to think this is all there is.

Love yourself. It’s cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: that’s what matters. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s a battle in contradiction in that you hate yourself and love yourself all at the same time, and how does that seem possible? My only hope? Is that the love will win out in this journey of self-acceptance.

Thank you so much for writing on this topic, Tatiana – for being so honest and forthcoming in this post.

You’re beautiful.

Reply

Tatiana April 26, 2011

I’m glad I got to write the post for you 😀

I wish I had more to say because it’s difficult for me. I’ve gone to therapy with the hope that I would learn how to live with self-hatred because it’s all I know. It’s painful but also impossibly draining. I don’t live with my self-loathing in an obvious, every day sort of way because I’m so used to it. It’s just there, lurking about, and sometimes I forget about it. I guess in the same way you forget that you don’t actively make your heart pump or your body digest food – until something happens to it, or you get sick. That’s kinda how it is for me. I live with it in my own way, a lot of the times forgetting that it’s there unless something happens.

Reply

Brenda Boitson April 26, 2011

I have battled weight my entire life. I hit puberty at 10, in 5th grade, when no one knew what it meant to menstruate, have boobs, hair under your armpits, and B.O. I was a freak. Puberty made me gain weight fast. I lost some, then went on the B.C. Pill to combat, what has since become an ongoing battle with, ovarian cysts. I gained the weight back. Over the next ten years I gained 100 pounds. I lost 30, then gained it back. It’s vicious. I feel ugly quite a lot of the time. Maybe ugly isn’t quite the word, but definitely uncomfortable with my bulges and my weight. I always have.

Self image, whether thin, fat, tall or short, is brutal for every single woman. I hope we can find our path to loving ourselves as we are, as we were created, as we continue to change and form. Thanks for sharing.

Reply

Suburban Sweetheart April 26, 2011

I love this post & relate so closely to it. When I was little, I literally prayed – every night, to God – that He would make me pretty when I was older. And now? Well, it’s still a struggle. I think I’ve learned to find beauty in myself, to play up my positive attributes, but I haven’t learned to be forgiving of the parts of me that I still can’t bring myself to love or even accept.

Reply

Tatiana April 26, 2011

I prayed every night to God too, when I was around 5th grade (maybe younger). I used to pray to be beautiful and have a boyfriend. I thought that by asking for it, I would get it. I remember when I decided not to believe in God anymore, when I hit puberty and didn’t get any of those things.

But, you’re certainly much further along than I am. I don’t feel that I have any positive attributes, except maybe my hair because it’s permanently styled a certain way.

Reply

Chelsea Talks Smack April 27, 2011

Beautiful, beautiful post.

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