"You'd be so pretty if you'd just lose weight."
I don't know how many times I heard that when I was growing up. I was in the 6th grade the first time I was put on a diet. Seriously! I remember I was 4'6" tall, 99lbs, in gymnastics and a tomboy playing baseball, swimming, dirt bike riding, lifting weights, and other activities and I was put on a diet. I learned to dress to hide my body as it filled out through puberty. I walked with my head down. I kept to myself. I stopped participating in group activities. And I did everything to undermine the various forms of diets over the years.
I had a serious problem with starvation and binging. I refused to eat where anyone could see me. When I finally was old enough to drive I'd stop on the way home and get something to eat and hide the evidence, feign being full at the dinner table and snack on unhealthy goodies hidden in my room at night. My senior year in high school I was 120lbs and too embarrassed to take my shirt off at the beach or pool and reveal my bathing-suit clad "ugly" body I was now convinced I had. After all, how many times can one hear "If you'd only lose weight you'd be pretty" before it sinks in that you're NOT pretty. At age seventeen I attempted suicide. It was a serious attempt and I was only saved as a close friend was worried about me at school that day and stopped by unexpectedly and called an ambulance.
Fate intervened, but it didn't remove the self-depreciation I had for myself. I could look at others around me and see their beauty, but I could never see my own. No one person or source is responsible. It comes from home, from peer pressure, from doctors, from media, from every angle imaginable. No wonder teens and adults alike suffer from depression over the stress of trying to fit in, to be the right shape. I spent all of my teenage and adult years hiding, believing I'm never good enough. I'm not good enough because I'm not pretty enough. And I'm not pretty enough because I'm not thin enough. This is what I was lead to believe as a young teenage girl. When I looked in the mirror I didn't see me. I saw the image that was planted in my head.
Over the years I've continued to struggle with my weight. Life, pregnancy, and stress all contributed to my unhealthy habits. I've tried to find different ways to both fit in and hide at the same time. It has taken me a very long time to even begin to realize is, there IS no "right" shape. Physical appearances change and fade over time. We all, every single human on the planet ages. We all will grow old. We all will gray eventually or lose our hair. But while the outside changes dramatically over time, who we are inside remains essentially the same. That is where the true beauty lies. That you cannot cover up with make up, or change with surgery, or hide with pretty clothes. Our smiles, our eyes, our words, and our love tells the tale of who we are truly. That is the beauty we share with others. That is the beauty that cannot be reflected in any mirror, but rather is reflected in the eyes of those that love us, all of who we are in and out.
No one is perfect. Every single one of us is full of various imperfections that make us beautifully perfect. And while we all are different, we all ARE beautiful. So, it doesn't matter what shape you see when you look in the mirror, remember you are beautiful.
Say it with me. "I am beautiful!"
Carra Fargis created the tank tops featured in my blog post as a fight against suicide. She states she had a friend suffer from and eventually die as a consequence of an eating disorder. You can find her shirts and message on Xstreet HERE
I'd also like to thank a friend from SL and Plurk, Winter Jefferson, for making a Plurk about these very shirts and bringing it my my attention.