Monday, 16 May 2011

In which I talk about self esteem and me...

I'm never going to be a model, super or otherwise. I'm too quirky in looks and attitude. I have freckles...lots of the little blighters. I'm rather on the short side. I have hair that, if I'm not careful, makes me look like I've electrocuted myself and, no matter how much I exercise I still seem to stay the same curvy shape. I'm better than I was after living in the UK where a steady diet of fast food had my weight rocketing sky high and my self esteem falling into a crater somewhere. After a reality check that I gave myself I joined a gym and the excess weight started to drop off. I've still got a little way to go but I eat healthy, exercise daily and try to boost my confidence in small ways.

But, for the longest time, I felt confused. You see, we are bombarded with all these images of what a real woman is supposed to look like. She's supposed to have this colour hair or these coloured eyes or this build and so on. She was always to wear make up, and if she didn't have the latest fashions she wasn't cool. And, I'm pretty sure it is the same for guys.

I admit, I went through a stage where I bought the Cosmo magazine. I actually feel ashamed that I spent three months buying a magazine that is actually a poor example of reading material. Oh, wait, I do recall that there were actually a couple of articles that dealt with things such as Female Genital Mutilation and rape but all of that was hidden amongst adds for getting longer lashes, getting a smoking hot body or how to please a guy with seven moves. You know what I mean - it was always in that sealed section that you opened feeling slightly naughty.

But, over the last few years, I've had a bit of a wake up call. Nothing dramatic, mind you, just little things that I've noticed that made me re-think a lot of things. You see, I was born with a cleft lip and palate. This is something that people who meet me for the first time may notice. They may not know what it is but they may see the tell tale scars, or the fact that my nose is a little crooked. What they may not know is that I have had over fifteen surgeries to 'correct' that. (Plus four or five others due to me being rather klutzy) I've had braces, which I was actually proud of. I've had my jaw broken twice and I've been traumatised by clowns. I've had people call me names and worse, which, looking back on it, is rather silly because my problems were no worse or better than any of theirs, I just looked a little different.

For a long time, I hid behind this, not thinking that having this made me who I am, just like having blue eyes and blond hair makes my sister my sister, you know. When I see my scars I no longer see a reminder of pain but I see another of my quirks. I see the skill of the surgeon who was able to do what he did. I see the patience of my parents who drove me four hours, both ways, to have these surgeries and appointments. I also see me - and some days I like what I see and others I don't but, when those days get rather, um, yuck I make a list of things that I like - not necessarily about me but what I like in general. Or I listen to some great music and rock out like a loon. 

So, I may never grace the pages of any fancy magazines and I will probably not be seen walking down a cat walk any time soon. (Which is a good think because I have this tendency to trip over my own feet cause I'm often day dreaming far too much.) So what. Just because I'm not petite or graceful or have amazing cheek bones or a killer walk doesn't mean that I'm not a little awesome in my own way.

I guess I just wanted to let people know that, although you may feel ugly or alone or lost, you are still you. You shouldn't have to conform to someone else's idea of beauty. Embrace your quirks because, as they say, beauty fades. And, honestly, would you rather talk to someone about what kind of mascara makes your eyes pop or someone who actually has something interesting to say that isn't a stock answer pulled from a hat?

P.S. I know that everyone probably tells you the same thing over and over again but seriously, being yourself is a hell of a lot more interesting than being what everyone else wants you to be.

P.P.S - Serious post, I know. Just felt like letting everyone know that it's okay to be you. I'm putting my soap box away and getting back to my writing, I promise.

P.P.P.S. Have a freaking awesome day, each and every one of you!

P.P.P.P.S. My mum just read this and she smiled. I am happy.


  1. I was just talking with someone about this the other day and she was struggling to see nice or attractive things about her physical self.

    She made the comment that it was easier for me because I knew I was pretty and could easily see the good things, which is true -I have a mirror and an objective eye (which also allows me to know how to highlight the good).

    But I had to check her because although I'm pretty, blue eyed, blonde and curvy I am now old and very fat.

    although I was never thin I was attractive and I knew it. despite being also very smart (none of this is news to you I know),funny and generally really nice and creative person, I got almost all of my attention from being young and beautiful.

    When the weight piled on that dropped off - if I'm honest I still get that attention but the drop off caused huge self esteem problems - problems I never had before.

    Not because of the media, not because of beauty conventions not because being less attractive was anything bad, but for me my whole self worth was wrapped up in my vanity.

    It was like I no longer had anything else to be proud of, anything else to be noticed for.

    I guess that's the sad thing about working through it, is that just as you come to terms with your imperfect self and the fact that everyone else has issues too (some are just more visible), there is some prick, magazine cover or former schoolmate who reduces you to just a flaw.

    I guess the real wisdom is learning that (1) those people are dickheads and (2) a personality flaw is harder to modify than a bit of fat or a cleft palate :-)

  2. @-E- Thanks.

    @ apple... I have read through your comment several times and I find it amazing. Mainly for the fact that, like my post attempt, it is honest, open and truly you.

    I also agree with the random thing that reduces you to just a flaw. Maybe you could address this idea in your hump day blog? :o) Still it is a lovely response and just adds to your unique and amazing self. Take care!

  3. Thanks. I checked out your Daily Funny Picture blog. Following that because everyone needs a little laughter in their day.

  4. Beautifully written hon! A really lovely post.

    But I can't say I ever really noticed your scars... only how inconvenient it was for you to have your jaw wired together for months. You are one of the most beautiful people I know, and I'm glad you're starting to be comfortable with your awesome self.

    It's difficult, because we all feel gawky, and blah, and awkward. Hey, you read my "I'm so boring" post. Don't ever think that you are boring, or ordinary, because you mon amie, are not. ;)

    And I've never been able to watch that music video without crying...

  5. I only just saw this comment and you made my day! You're levels of awesomeness know no bounds...