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…”