It wasn't until the 7th grade that I lost weight. Over the 6th-7th grade summer I lost 15 pounds but I still found myself heavier than all my friends. As I entered Jr. High boys began to show interest in me. Reflecting back I believe by this time, the damage to my self-image was already done. I found it difficult to accept that anyone thought I was beautiful. I can only attribute it to the years of thinking I was fat, ugly and the countless times of being rejected from the crushes I had as a young girl.
The reflection in the mirror remained the same, no matter what I looked like. I often find this true, even today. As an adult, I am better with what my reflection looks like because I've accepted that no matter how I look on the outside what people will attract to in the long run, is what I possess in the inside. Those are the people I want to be a part of my life.
The focus on outward beauty was never publicized in the light as it is today. So even though I thought I had it tough, generations of today are faced with a bigger struggle to like what they see in the mirror. They are told what society views as beautiful. Everyday it's in our faces. It's displayed in the media, magazine ads, highway billboards, but even more so on television shows. They tell you what you should look like, what you should wear, how to be beautiful and what is beautiful. What I find is sad, is that the majority of the advertisements publicize superficial beauty. People can no longer grow old gracefully and naturally because society has convinced us that beauty is youthfulness, larger boobs, tighter butts, snip here and cut there, poke her and inject there. Have we really gotten to the point where we dismiss inner beauty?
I understand that changing our physical appearance is a choice. I don't look down on people's choices to do what they need to feel beautiful; we all have our own little quirks. But my belief to have it glamorized to the point where it impacts or sets a foundation of what is acceptable to society is wrong. We live in a society of more, more, more. The problem with the more concepts is that it begins to manifest into dissatisfaction. It turns into the "once you fix one part of yourself, you will always find another part you are unhappy with" syndrome. We rarely become satisfied with who we are but if you practice loving yourself for what God has blessed you with, you will see that "You are Beautiful."
When I have what I call, "An Ugly Day," I look in the mirror, remind myself it isn't the outside that makes me beautiful it's what I'm made up in the inside - My values, beliefs, personality traits, how I treat others, and what I GIVE to society. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and look at my reflection and say, "You are Beautiful."
As a parent of three children, pregnancy put a big stress on my body. For those ladies who have had the opportunity to experience pregnancy you know that your stomach is stretched beyond your comprehension and if you chose to nurse your baby, you most likely have lost that 18 year old physique you once had. This was the case for me. I have stretch marks all over my belly and saggy boobs from nursing all three kids. Yes, I said it!
We are our own worst critic. It's terrible to be witness to young girls (not to say boys don't suffer the same struggles) resort to diet pills, harmful eating habits and psychological issues to be the thin/beautiful person society has programmed us to believe is acceptable.
I have a teenage daughter. And as a parent who struggled with weight and self-image/esteem issues throughout my life, I must now be a core example in helping my daughter develop a strong self-image and help her build her self-esteem. One day I realized that my own complaining aloud about how fat and ugly I thought I was and the dissatisfaction of my physical appearance in front of her could have been effecting her development. I was feeding into what society was telling us is acceptable. I was demeaning myself in front of her, a person she looked to for guidance and strength. I was doing this without even realizing the impact it could have on her in the long run. I found myself doing this even when I was getting toward a healthy weight.
And to my dismay, my daughter took the same path as I did as a small child. She was overweight and indulged in food. I believe she was an "emotional" eater. She had low self-esteem and a poor self-image for several of her elementary school aged years. This poor view of herself continued into the early teenage years which resulted in her getting involved in activities that were self-destructive. Her behavior didn't only affect her well being, but it also jeopardized the relationship with her brother's and me.
I noticed that the healthier I became, the more she rebelled. As I began giving up all the unhealthy lifestyle patterns, she seemed to get more and more in trouble. The once beautiful daughter I saw was turning into a figure that was no longer recognizable. At that point I could only think that what I saw in her was what she must have seen me for so many years. The inner beauty of her was no longer present. Over time with counseling and the continuing healthy changes in our household we've been able to move forward. We don't live in the past, but we can look back, talk about and reflect on it. I am so proud of her and her strength to overcome some of the issues she was faced with. She has turned into a healthy (physically and mentally) teenager. On her own with a few tips from me, has changed her diet to healthy food choices removing certain sugary foods and foods she knows are unhealthy for her (she is pretty good about reading labels.) She is involved in team sports, has aspirations of attending a four year university and understands the consequences of her poor choices. My relationship with her has evolved into one that has an open line of communication with the main basis being honesty, trust and respect. With that said, I asked her permission if it was okay for me to involve her in this blog. She agreed and also asked me to post a before and after shot of her from 2008 to 2012. She has worked on her inside beauty which directly resulted in her outside beauty transformation.
Strength - Willpower - Determination - Self Love - High Self Esteem - Positive Self Image - Belief in one's self - Healthy Choices - Desire for Happiness - Self Confidence - Communication - Awareness - Acceptance - Change - Do!
♥ YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL ♥
My daughter is living proof that CHOICES are powerful and can determine what direction you move towards. The choice to change is a powerful gift. The gift to choose can make you the most beautiful person on the inside, where it really counts. Choose wisely and show the world that deep down, "You Are Beautiful" ♥
Before ending I would like to share a quick story. It's how the inner beauty of a person shined through to give my daughter a little self-confidence boost:
Earlier this year we attended a birthday party. All the girl cousins were going to go swimming. My daughter was reluctant to go into the water in her two piece swimsuit because she felt self-conscience of her body. After seeing the confidence of one of the other cousins whose physical appearance isn't what society would say is acceptable, my daughter's decision to go in changed and she took the plunge, literally. Later she shared the story with me and said, "When I saw how confident she was about herself, I thought that was so cool and admired her for it. It made me feel confident too." That inner confidence in her cousin was more powerful than any outward beauty could ever be. I wish more young people had that confidence and courage. Thank you for being beautiful and showing your beauty through your inner strength ♥
~ Lift others up with positiveness. Love them because of who they are inside, now what they have on the outside. Over time the outside wears out and grows old, it's inevitable. Place your time and effort on preserving the inner you. That is what you have the power to keep beautiful. ~ Trg