I’ve been reading your blog for ages, and I absolutely adore it…it’s one of my favorite things I read online. I’ve noticed you talk about your body type, and that you seem very secure in your body. I had a really excessively emotionally abusive boyfriend before the absolutely amazing one I have now (this is a for-life type of relationship, quite apparently). But, at any rate, the last boyfriend made my jealously practically unbearable (you would not believe the stuff I get jealous over!) and my ability to see myself as attractive is practically non-existent. Add to that the fact that I’ve put on some weight since I started my current relationship, and you have a recipe for disaster, or at least major self-loathing. I’m curious about how you got secure in your looks in a society that seems to think only blond tits-on-a-stick is attractive. My boyfriend prefers curves and brunettes, so at least *he’s* accepting of different looks, but alas, my programming is all-too-functional. Any advice you can impart would be much appreciated. And you can feel free to post this letter on your blog if you’d so wish.
Thanks very much,
Ok M. Realizing that you HAVE low self esteem about your body is the first step in fixing it. Do I sound like a 12 step instructor yet? If so, sorry.
It’s not an easy process. Everything in society tells us to hate our bodies. Ads on the radio, tv, in magazines, on billboards; they all tell us we’re too fat, too short, too tall, too lanky, too awkward, too busty, not busty enough, curvy in the wrong places, not curvy. Add on all the things you can buy; diet pills, gym memberships with personal training, creams to take away wrinkles, creams to make things perky, to make things soft, to get rid of acne, to cover grey hairs, to make hair brighter, to make your skin glow, to make you skin less shiny. Everything tells us to hate our bodies.
And then, with all this self-hatred, all it takes is a partner NOT TELLING US we’re hot/beautiful/pretty/lovely/sexy/______. We don’t need someone to tell us we’re not; society has already done that for us. We just need a lack of validation. And if we’re unlucky enough to end up with someone that DOES judge us on the way we look, and worse yet, is emotionally abusive about it, well, then who can blame us for having a really skewed body image of ourselves?
I used to HATE my body. HATE it. My mother was always telling me I was too heavy; my house was filled with snackwells, skim milk, diet soda, frozen yogurt, etc. I was too big for “normal” food. Then there was the clothing issue. Torrid (see my wish list on the right to see what genius clothing they have!) didn’t exist until I was in HS, and by then it was too late. I’d spent years having to shop in different clothing sections, and once I hit HS, I hated having to go to “special stores” to find clothes that fit, and then of course, nothing was as “cool” and “hip” as I wanted to be.
Then I got to college. My first college boyfriend was anorexic (and possibly full other other eating disorders), making me feel even more insecure about my weight. He never told me I was pretty, he told me what to wear to look skinnier, he told me I was “different.” Then my next boyfriend told me my breasts were too big. As someone with DDs, and hearing from everyone everywhere that breasts were “the bigger, the better,” to hear from the guy I was dating that mine were too big was ridiculously hard.
Ok, enough of my sob story. How do you fix it?
I can give you the ways that have helped me. Please note: I have days where I feel fat and ugly, days where I think about doing anything I can to lose weight, days where I curl up with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and cry. So please don’t think that I love 100% of my body 100% of the time.
Here are some ideas:
*Find friends that are good friends. They will love you regardless of your appearance, and if they’re good friends, they will help make you feel good about your body. When you look good, they will tell you. When you look silly, they will tell you, and then you’ll be more likely to believe them when they DO tell you that you look beautiful.
*Figure out your style, what you like, what makes you feel good, what looks good on you. For me, it’s low cut shirts. I like my cleavage. I wear blacks, reds and blues, because they look good on me. I love lots of halter tops, because they provide support, and I feel comfortable in them. I do pin-up and 50′s inspired outfits, because that’s a look that celebrates curves, instead of trying to hide them. Find YOUR look, and then go on a thrift store shopping spree, and build up a wardrobe that you feel comfortable and hot wearing.
*Get someone you trust to take black and white nude photos. I know, it sounds crazy. Take off everything, and get down to exactly what it is that bothers you, that you don’t like, that makes you feel uncomfortable. Now, figure out your favorite body parts, the parts you DO like. Accentuate them. And ps, the back of your knees and you pinky fingers don’t count (been there, done that). I want legit body parts; feet, legs, hands, arms, breasts, ass, back, whatever it is. Take the pictures. Put them on your computer. Look at them. Print your favorites out if you can. Put them where you’ll see them. Look at your beautiful body, and love it.
*Learn to take a compliment. I’m still working on this one. When your partner tells you something nice, say thank you, and then stop talking. This is bloody hard, I KNOW. Say whatever you have to inside your head (he’s just saying that, etc), but don’t say it out loud. Say thank you. And then once you can do that, then work on quieting the voice in your head. Eventually (I think), you’ll be able to better accept that he’s being genuine.
*Put away your scale — give it away if you have to. Numbers don’t mean everything, or really, anything. Cover up your mirror for a day or two. Realize that there is so much more to likes than looking like a socially constructed beauty. Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder.
*Write a list of everything you DO like about yourself…actually, make two. One mental, one physical. And if he’s into it, ask your partner to do the same about you. Put them in your purse. Look at them at least once a day, more often if you can. Realize your true beauty; both the beauty you see, and that others do (get your friends to do it too! Make it a true beauty night, and do it like yearbooks — everyone makes a little list for everyone).
*It sounds like you might want to go talk to a therapist too, and process this abusive relationship, so you can move on to your new and awesome relationship. Just a thought.
Hope these have helped. Readers, if you have any other suggestions, or feel I really put my foot in my mouth, please feel free to comment!
-Essin’ Em11 comments