Monday, October 10, 2011

Low Self-Esteem?

Alternate titles:
You’re Only As Beautiful As You Think You Are
Or, A blog post about self-loathing and personal image depression

The last few weeks I have been horrified with the idea of looking at myself in the mirror. I don't know what has triggered it, but I'm feeling very ugly, very old, and very plain.

It's not true.

Or so I’m told.

I have people to vouch for it, and sometimes I see a glimmer in the mirror of what maybe the rest of the world sees when they look at me, but that's not very often.

As a female in general, I have a terrible self image. I always have, ever since I was a young kid. I was always too fat, too short, too zit-faced, teeth were too crooked, nose is too long, too dorky with glasses to ever be loved. Yes, the world had beaten down this girl and helped me see that I wasn't ever good enough.

I didn't eat much food through much of Jr. High and High School. The toast for breakfast would be handed to the dog on the way to the car, and lunch money would be pocketed for later use...

Unfortunately I was a size 8. Always a size 8. I could never get any smaller no matter how much I starved myself and tried to be active enough to help the weight fall off. No matter how hard I tried I could never get below 135 lbs and to someone who looked in the mirror and saw that fat girl every time, that was never low enough.

I wore make-up, too much make-up, to cover my flaws. I tried off setting the make-up with hair dye, cleavage and short skirts. Hoping that I could fit into *that* mold of what everyone else wanted me to be… or what I thought everyone wanted me to be. Some days I’m not even sure who *that* Liz was.

I look back now and see myself as thin, I looked good, without the poky bones or my ribs showing. From a 15-years-further-down-the-road/outside perspective I look back and wonder "What was I thinking?" I spent so much time worry about my looks that I missed out on the opportunities I had to wear more mini-skirts and skimpy swimming suits and showing off my arms... because of the little rolls that would appear on my belly when I'd sit in a chair. (Oh what I wouldn’t give to have *little rolls* when I sat in a chair again.)

Eventually I got over most of this… I had friends who noticed my lack of eating and started making sure I had something to eat every day – even if it was just going out to dinner. I really think that saved me from spiraling into an even deeper hole in my life. Thank you friends.

When I was 23 I had just returned from my mission. I had spent 18 months being torn down by nasty companions and rebuilt by companions who truly loved me for who I was. I gained a new view of myself and had finally decided that yes, maybe I was okay. I weighed 165 lbs and was perfectly content with my life, how I looked and the way I felt about myself. I had curves in all the right places and a choice of clothes that flattered me, and helped me snag the wonderful husband that I have. I gave up make-up, deciding that I preferred my natural beauty to that made-up look. My complexion was nice, I had rosy lips and a nice skin.

I really thought I had finally beaten it. I could look at myself in the mirror and smile and think that I looked really good. I was an adult and I could face the world and be content with who I was, what I was doing and where I was going… Yeah, right. Turns out it was just hiding in a closet in the back of my mind.

Unfortunately, due to life situations and circumstances after we got married, with medications and stress, over the years I gained weight, and gained weight, and gained weight until a few years ago I found myself weighting 249 lbs and completely unhappy with myself, the 5’ 2.75” fat girl. I fell back into *that* hole, but at least this time, I really was overweight and knew it. I no longer had cute things to wear and became a slave to the fat girl clothes stores that never have anything cute or shape flattering. I don’t shop for clothes in stores any more, the whole experience leaves me depressed and heartbroken so I only ever buy clothes online now.

I’ve lost some weight since then, I’m much closer to the 200 lbs mark than I used to be, but I’m still larger than I’d like to be, and this has a harsh impact on how I view myself. Over my lifespan I have shed a lot of tears over how imperfect I am.

Why am I drudging up these sore feelings and sad memories on my blog today? Divulging my dark loathing to the world? Well….

I have been planning to have pictures done by one of my best friends, Michelle Sallay from Michelle Sallay Photography. She was my MTC companion, and although we didn’t get along so great back then, she has turned into one of those people that you really couldn’t imagine your life without. She’s pretty spectacular. Anyway, Michelle is a fantastic photographer. I love looking at her work and seeing what a beautiful job she does. Her pictures always look so nice, and the people in them so beautiful… so photogenic… so … like they belong in the beautiful settings that Michelle’s talent has the eye to see. I’m not one of those people.

I think that’s where I have hit my rut. I want to have beautiful pictures of me and John, but I don’t think I belong in her photos. I look in the mirror and see my glasses and crooked teeth and my sun spots and think how absolutely non-photogenic I am. I see the acne scars and the left over sunburn shadows. The dark circles under my eyes, the never ending cycle of adult acne… and I wonder if the rest of the world sees me the way I do. It just breaks my fragile little heart sometimes.

With picture day coming up so fast (next Monday!) I have set out to put together a nice outfit that will make me look thinner than I am, hide my rolls and bumps and saggy arm fat. I have yet to do that, but I still have a few more days.

I also have been staring myself down in the mirror looking at my facial flaws, my hands, my hair… trying to decide what to do about it all. I polled some friends on Facebook asking if I should invest in make-up (which I haven’t owned or worn in almost 10 years. I don’t think I even wore make-up on my wedding day.) Or just go with my regular lipstick and mascara routine. They all told me “No new make-up” of course, because, as I pointed out earlier outside people see me differently that I see myself…

I decided that I’d take that advise and not buy make-up… but then I read the following articles on the internet last week:

KSL News article: Study: Women who wear makeup seem more competent
MSN article: The Makeup Hater's Guide to Makeup

Apparently, according to both of these articles I am not competent, likeable, attractive, successful, or trustworthy.

*BAM!!* I’m back into the hold of self-loathing and depression.

I tried not to listen. Really I did, but it festered. I fought and struggled against that ugly girl who lives just below the surface who reminds me that I am not as good as everyone else.

Guess who won?

Nope, not the rational me who can step back from what’s going on in the world and think that I’m okay. “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!”

No, the insecure paranoid me won out, and I ended up spending $45 on make-up the other day. New face wash, new lip-stain, eyeliner, blush, base, powder… yes, I have bought into the fact that the world doesn’t think I am good enough, so neither do I.

Saturday morning after I showered I decided to try out my new make-up, and while I must admit, I did look quite nice and un-made-up I died a little inside because I had given in. When I asked John how I looked, he told me that I looked very nice, and I started to cry. When he asked what was wrong he also followed up with the question of “are you feeling old?” and I sobbed. My newly applied mascara began to run and the make-up had just applied became blotchy and smeared, and I felt worse than when I had been duped into buying the stuff…

Why do I let the world get to me? Why can’t I just be happy with myself as I am, in whatever situation I am placed? Why can’t I just love me for being me?

Why can’t the young women of the world look at themselves in the mirror and see the beautiful person that they are, and not the abstract image of what they *should* be or what they *want* to be? Why can’t the world appreciate the natural beauty in things and enjoy the differences that are presented to us in each individual?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, I don’t know if any one does.

Fact of the matter is – I bought into it. I let the failure in me out to the surface where I need to be acknowledged and recognized as part of the beautiful people of the world. I need the approval of others, I feed off compliments, even if I don’t always believe them.

When it gets right down too it, I will have pictures taken next Monday by a fabulous photographer, and I’ll be the same old Liz I have always been. Yes, I’ll wear the makeup that I invested money in, and I’ll hopefully have the new clothes I ordered from Old Navy before picture day. But I’m not holding my breath. If they don’t show I’ll go a head and have a minor melt down over the weekend but eventually find something I already own that will work out for pictures…. And it will all turn out fine. It will, because everything usually does.


So now here is some good thoughts to finish of my self-loathing post about how inferior my looks are to the rest of the world…

I really liked this quote. I don’t know if Emma Watson really said it because we all know how true everything we read on the internet is {sarcasm} but it’s nice to hear some one say it once in a while:

“I find the whole concept of being ‘sexy’ embarrassing and confusing. If I do an interview with photographs people desperately want to change me - dye my hair blonder, pluck my eyebrows, give me a fringe. Then there’s the choice of clothes. I know everyone wants a picture of me in a mini-skirt. But that’s not me. I feel uncomfortable. I’d never go out in a mini-skirt. It’s nothing to do with protecting the Hermione image. I wouldn’t do that. Personally, I don’t actually think it’s even that sexy. What’s sexy about saying, ‘I’m here with my boobs out and a short skirt, have a look at everything I’ve got?’ My idea of sexy is that less is more. The less you reveal the more people can wonder.” - Emma Watson


As a child, when I would look at the little forget-me-nots, I sometimes felt a little like that flower – small and very insignificant. I wondered if I would be forgotten by my family or by my Heavenly Father.
Years later, I can look back on that young boy with tenderness and compassion. And I do know now I was never forgotten.
And I know something else. As an Apostle of our Master, Jesus Christ, I proclaim with all the certainty and conviction of my heart and soul – neither are you!
You are not forgotten.
Sisters, wherever you are, whatever the circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, you Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, he loves you, with an infinite love.
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Angela Stout said...

Liz you are a wonderful, beautiful woman. You are so much more then what the "world" thinks you should be. You are brillant!

Michelle said...

We will have to talk when I see you, but I go through this all the time. I saw a video that my friend took of a dinner out right about when I met Brent (aka the fattest I had ever been). What the hell was I thinking? I was freaking adorable, I was sassy, I actually made an effort to look cute! And now, I am a slob who never gets ready and is actually the fattest I have ever been for reals this time.

Anyway, you belong in my pictures. You are not traditionally "hot", but you are one of the most unique people I know and you make other people feel loved and special, which makes you beautiful. Besides traditionally "hot" girls tend to actually hate themselves, and feel like they have no value besides how they look. Plus, they probably had to be in beauty pageants when they were kids and who wants that kind of pressure? :)

Most people do not like themselves in pictures, you have no idea how many people complain to me, about me taking their pictures at weddings...they look worse because they feel awkward, when if they would just relax and be what the people that love them see everyday they would look good in pictures.

Go ahead and feel sorry for yourself though, I do it all the time. I think it is good to own those feelings and then move on. I will see you Monday, and I expect a big fat smile on your face! LOVE YOU!