On a daily basis, we are surrounded by the extreme visuals of which type of body image is socially acceptable in our society, reminding us everyday the way society wants us to look. Splashed across the pages of Vogue, Teen People & InStyle are photographs of glamorous people, all wearing designer fashions and all of them the size of my leg. I am not sure why society places such a high priority on individuals to look the a certain way but I do know one thing: Maybe if society stops worrying about who looks like what, maybe I wouldn’t have a self-conscious view of my own body image.
One of the first memories that I have from grade school was being on the playground. I loved to run around, play on the monkey bars and sit on the curb. All of this was done by myself, though, on a daily basis. One day, I remember walking towards the playground, by myself, looking for a friend. I walked up to a little girl, who was in the same 1st grade class that I was in and asked her to play. She stopped, looked at me, and said in a very hurtful tone “No!”. I asked her why she didn’t want to play and she said rather quickly “because you are ugly!”. She then proceeded to continue to play with her friends, as I walked away crying. I spent the rest of recess on the curb, by myself, crying. I know I wasn’t the cutest kid to walk into the school. I did have blonde hair & blue eyes but that was all that was going for me. I had hair cut up to my ears, a huge gap in between my teeth, and I had a skinny body with a huge head. I didn’t understand why she was so hurtful. All I wanted to do was be her friend. I wish I could say this was the first & last issue with body image that i had, but if I said that…I would be lying.
Years past & in 7th grade, I moved from a private all girls school to public school. The transition was tough. I cried on a daily basis at the all girls school the year before & I was hoping that public school would be better…for friends and for my self-esteem. Boy was I wrong. The first nickname I inherited from the kids at school was “dog”. They would bark at me in the halls, call me a dog to my face and call me dog names, like Fido. I tried my hardest to ignore their childish names but when a girl called me ugly to my face during lunch…I snapped. I proceeded to smack her across the face, which landed us both in lunch detention. The teasing & name calling continued up until the end of 8th grade, when I finally graduated from middle school. I was finally out of middle school & headed into high school. My thoughts were that maybe people in high school were nicer & didn’t use childish names. Well..I was right about one thing. They definitely did not use childish names.
Entering into high school was supposed to be fun, but I was met with ridicule & questions straight off the bat. “Why don’t you wear make up? Why aren’t you wearing the new Adidas? Why do you wear your hair like that?” I ignored the questions and because I ignored those questions. the questions soon turned into name calling. I was called a “slut” & a “whore”on a daily basis, which made my self-esteem plummet. I soon went to school wearing sweats & t-shirts with my hair up in a bun, no make up covering the many zits I had… not caring about anything. Soon the words “slut” and “whore” were replaced by “ugly” and “pizza face”. I was even hated & called names by my boyfriends friends. One friend almost gave my boyfriend, at the time, a mask to place over my head while we made out during a school function. I am surprised still, to this day, that I even pulled a boyfriend in high school. Senior year came & went & my self-esteem was shot. After a while, I picked myself back up, but soon I found myself in a situation that proved to all together kill my self-esteem, self-worth & body image.
Finding someone to love you for who you are is the best feeling in the world, but when you find someone who “says” they love you for who you are, can leave you wondering about yourself and your body image. Through my struggle with alcoholism, I met a very attractive born again Christian who seemed to be my saving grace. I finally felt comfortable in my skin & body, but this feeling didn’t last long. After a couple of months, he started to tell me I shouldn’t wear certain things, like my favorite hot pink belt I still wear to this day, & that I need to go to the gym more often. I didn’t understand why but I started to do the things he wanted…thinking he was telling me these things to help me. Months past & I soon was obsessed with the gym. I would go 2 hours a day, and continue to work out when I got home. I stopped eating fried foods, fatty foods, red meat & carbs. I also cut my portions in half & even skipped meals. I started to dress differently and died my hair to make my blonde hair look brown. At my lowest, I was eating only one meal a day & was puking up the food I was eating. It didn’t matter though. It never mattered. In the end, after almost 2 years of break ups, break downs, weight lost & make ups, we parted ways & never spoke again. I was left with someone I didn’t recognize in the mirror & someone I didn’t want to know.
Today, 21 years after my 1st negative experience with self esteem & 7 years after being that person I didn’t know, I finally know myself, blonde hair & all, but I still battle with body image & self confidence on a daily basis. I still look at some food with disgust, sometimes I catch myself skipping a meal, and at times, I think I look fat, even though I am a size 4. After 21 years of battling individuals & society over my own body image, I am still fighting. I may lose a battle here or there though, but I plan on winning the war. For myself & for others