This is a love story. Not the one you’d expect or the one I thought I’d write. It has more villains than heroes, more deception than truth, more selfishness than sacrifice. It’s not even about a boy or finding the … Continue reading
Today I had the absolute privilege to share my first post for the amazing So Worth Loving, a lifestyle and community and movement I am in love with. It was perhaps the hardest piece I’ve written, but it was completely worth it. It was healing.
So, please take a look at “When I believed I was ugly” and pass it along!
I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I LOOKED IN THE MIRROR AND THOUGHT TO MYSELF, “I’M UGLY.”
It wasn’t a grand moment or a show-stopping epiphany. No, it was a whisper that echoed through my being. Standing in my empty dorm room, I could barely meet my own eyes. I looked at myself and saw a body that shouldn’t be mine. There was too much of it, more than I knew how to carry with confidence. I stared at my reflection and felt shame rush over my skin. “This isn’t what a woman should look like,” I chastised myself. “No one could love someone who looks like this.”
I can’t love someone who looks like this.
Because that was really what I was telling myself. I saw my body in the mirror. I saw every flaw, every imperfection, every slice of pizza, every handful of chocolate chips. I saw every time a man looked past me. I saw every time the man I cared about said, “I like you, but…” leaving me to fill in the blanks with my own insecurities. I looked at my reflection and assaulted my body with lies….
There are things about myself that I love. I love my intelligence, because it’s something I’ve worked hard for. I love my sense of humor, because I enjoy being clever and making people laugh. I love that I’m a writer, a reader, an adventurer, a romantic, a pragmatic, a believer, and a whole host of other seemingly incongruous characteristics. I’m proud of them and of myself; they make me who I am.
But whenever people ask me what my favorite thing about myself is, the part of me that I like best, I never mention anything about my body. It’s my blind spot, something I forget about. I know I have one, I wouldn’t be able to function in this world without one after all, but I don’t like to dwell on it. I sometimes pretend that it doesn’t really exist.
I’ve never been comfortable with my body. I’ve never looked in the mirror and thought, “Oh my gosh I look gorgeous” without qualifying it by adding on “except for ____.” I’ve never been able to put on the sexy dress and say “Wow, I look great in this” without thinking “but it’s only because of the dress.”
I’ve never allowed my body to be beautiful. I’ve never given myself permission to be pretty, cute, sexy, adorable, stunning, stylish, or attractive. I’ve never really believed the compliments I’ve been given or the appreciative glances I’ve received. People, I convinced myself, liked my dress, my hair, my glasses, my shoes, my jewelry, my personality, but never my body.
Why would I believe that people thought I was beautiful when I didn’t believe it myself?
It was the greatest disservice I could ever have done myself, telling my body that it wasn’t good enough. It was the greatest lie I believed, the worst thought to cross my mind. It ate away at me, slowly crushing my spirit until every time I looked in the mirror, blank and empty eyes looked back at me.
I regret every harsh word I hurled at my innocent self. I convinced my self that I was unattractive, undesirable, unwanted. I accused my body of being ugly and disgusting. I refused to look at it or acknowledge it as my own. I assaulted it with words, food, and poor choices. I allowed my body to become a battle ground, and I waged war with myself all over it.
It’s an act of treason, your fight against your own body. Nobody wins.
I never won. I lost every day. I lost my self esteem, my self confidence, the smile on my face and the spring in my step. I lost my femininity and sexuality. I lost my pride and sense of self. I would demean, self deprecate, abuse, and misuse my body until it showed the signs of my inner turmoil. I knew it’s weaknesses, and I exploited them. It suffered for my insecurities, self doubts, and negative thoughts.
It’s hard to enjoy living in this world, taking part in it and loving it when you aren’t comfortable in your own skin. No matter where you go, what you do, or who you are with, how you look and how others perceive you is at the forefront of your mind.
Does this dress show the ten pounds I can’t seem to lose? Does this light show the imperfections on my skin? What is that guy looking at? Is there something wrong with what I’m wearing? Is it too tight? Can he tell I didn’t exercise last week? Should I even be eating this cupcake? And did I order my coffee nonfat? Is that girl whispering about me to her friend? Was this dress too ambitious for someone like me?
We live in a world where “someone like me” isn’t all we could be. We’re bombarded with magazines showcasing perfect models, with movies starring gorgeous leading women, and we’re told that is what a woman is. That is what beauty looks like. That is what we should strive for, even if the likelihood of attaining it is slim. It’s simply not enough, anymore, to be “someone like me.”
What we are, society tells us, just isn’t enough.
So instead of ourselves, we try to be someone else. We try to conform to what society tells us we should be. We try to be the airbrushed model. We try to be the professionally enhanced leading lady. And we’re devastated when we fall short.
We set ourselves up for failure.
I often imagine God is looking down on me, weeping at my poor treatment of the body He gave me. He created me from nothing more than an idea. He took a thought and formed a person from it. He made me, molded me, designed me. He crafted my soul and stitched together my heart. He gave me my intelligence, my sense of humor, my impulsive nature and pragmatic tendencies; He gave me my need for adventure and my romantic sensibility. He gave me my love of words.
All these things He took and invented me. Only me. There is no other like me.
And He created my body. He took his time to form me. He planned every inch of me, every hair on my head and freckle on my skin. He chose every curve and every eyelash. He gave me my hips, my legs, my chin; He gave me the color of my eyes and every shade in my hair. He carefully put me together in the way a sculptor works with marble. He makes no mistakes and never second guesses.
So today, I want to apologize to my body and end my deplorable treatment of it. Here is my attempt to make amends, to let go of the pain and frustration and being anew…
Dear Body that belongs to Cassandre Anastasia Clerget (housing her mind, soul, and the Holy Spirit),
For every unkind word and negative thought, I apologize. For every time I wished you weren’t mine, I apologize. For every morning I woke up and dreaded undressing in front of a mirror, I apologize. For every time I punished you for my insecurities, I apologize.
I take back the times I was jealous of someone else’s body. I take back the times I hated you, degraded you, and loathed you. I take back each tear I shed and each frown I made when I thought about you. I apologize for every unhealthy diet and every harmful binge. I beg your pardon for not loving you, not appreciating you, and not wanting you.
I’m sorry I did not look at you as a part of myself, but something separate. I’m sorry I forgot that you were a part of God’s creation, not a afterthought or something trivial. I’m sorry I did not love you as I should. I’m sorry caused you pain, and I’m sorry I did it purposefully.
You are lovely. You are imperfectly perfect; the gorgeous sum of your flaws. You are beautiful. You are good. You are enough. You are amazing and wonderful, and I’m grateful that you are mine. You were made in God’s image, a product of His love. You were made especially and intentionally for me, and I ask that God teaches me to love you as I should. I accept you, and hope that you can do the same.
You Are Mine. You Are Me.
So I ask for your forgiveness as I realize there is absolutely nothing wrong with being “someone like me.”
In love and sincerity, Your Self.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts. And maybe follow me on Twitter?