Most of my life I have been on a quest to answer a question, AM I BEAUTIFUL?
As a little girl, in about 5th grade I started to see other girls for the first time as my competition. I quickly started to see the world in a different light. Instead of being the carefree child I once was who didn’t care if my hair was brushed I started to wonder if boys could like me. I paid close attention and noticed that they liked some of the girls a lot and others they didn’t seem to even notice. What was it about those girls that they likeed, and why did I I just seem to blend into the landscape? This was the start of my questioning to understand it all.
I came to a conclusion. Boys liked the other girls, “The Pretty Ones.”
This pattern continued in Jr. High. It seemed that other girls were noticed and sought after while I continued to blend in. I came to the conclusion that I must not be very attractive. That message followed me through the rest of Jr. High and into high school. I learned to just accept what I beleived my fate to be. I got dates, but In my head it was never because I was pretty. I figured I must be friendly and fun, and accepted those traits as mine.
I can look back now and see time after time when boys tried to get my attention, but I would completely blow them off. I had told myself so many times that I was not a ‘pretty girl ‘ that their attention was uncomfortable and awkward. I could not figure it all out, but moved on with life as a wall flower. I ignored their advances knowing they weren’t meant for me.
Then I met him, despite my ignoring his advances he kept making them and he said he loved me. He showed up time and time again for dates and I was married right after my 19th birthday. For the first time in my life I thought that maybe I was beautiful.
It wasn’t long before that moment flew by me. His attention was on me for such a short time. I noticed him looking at other women on our honeymoon. I was devistated. I thought that he was my one chance of being chosen. I thought that he loved me enough to put other women behind and focus on me. Little did I know that my reign would end so quickly and with so much pain.
I remember the sick feeling I had on the beach as I looked up and noticed that his eyes were not focused on me. I left him standing there and made my way by myself back to the hotel. I didn’t want to ruin the moment he was having with the girl in her bikini. I had no idea that this was only the beginning of a very painful and heartbreaking journey.
The question resurfaced. Am I Beautiful? With lowered head and sudden tears that same thought came back, “you are not one of the pretty ones.”
I wanted to be beautiful and I wanted to be chosen. At 19 years old, 125 lbs, I was at the peak of my physical appearance and it was not enough for him. Addiction has a way of doing that to men.
I feel sick and heavy as I remeber those moments. I was the best that I could be. Years would follow of extreme exercize and dieting in a mad race to become someting that he would be proud of. No matter what I did I was never able to reach beautiful. My love handles were a part of my genetics and they were determined to stay with me.
I look back and see that this was in 1995. To this day 22 years later I still struggle with self-image. I still ask myself Am I Beautiful?
And I worry about little girls today?
In that past 22 years images of what beauty is have changed dramatically. I see 5th grade girls and wonder if the competition has begun for them. My guess would be that the search for beautuful begins at an even earlier age.
So what does the world say to the little girl who is genetically stuck with love handles? It will tell her that if she were thin then she might be desireable. The media tells us that If we are tall, white, and in the smallest 3% of body sizes…then we are beautiful. What about the other 97%?
Am I beautiful? Are you?
I am still on my quest to answer that question. It is my hope that I will be able to take the trauma of my past and dig through it until I find the answer. I am searching for a great big YES. I’ll let you know when I find it.