I grew up with the message that I was fat and worthless. A couple of years ago, I looked at the few pictures that exist of me over the years (I always avoided being photographed). Me at age 4 - not a bit fat, though my teenage sisters had me convinced that I was. Me at 18 - Wow, I never knew I was so pretty! Me at 25, and I was a hottie, and never knew it!
This shocked me. I had seen those pictures before, and seen ugly. I had never believed anyone who said I was pretty - I only heard my family saying "you WOULD be pretty IF..." I really believed that people who told me how attractive I was were, A, just being nice, or, B, meant to say I would be pretty IF.
Well, it took a couple of more years for me to really absorb all this, and then to look at my whole life. I never made a lot of money, but I achieved a lot (with my family in the background telling me I wasn't doing well at all, and still needed to lose weight). I raised a great kid with no help at all. I graduated from college with honors when my daughter was still young. I provided a good home for us. I was an excellent worker, and always worked in the helping professions. I was a good person, and I still am.
So my advice is this, especially for the young women and girls out there:
By Free2B from North Royalton, OH
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Very nice essay. I think we are all a little dissatisfied with how we appear, especially as we get older. I know that my mental image doesn't match the mirror's version of me :) But would I trade all the things I have learned in the last 20 years, to be a 20 year old again. No way! I earned all my gray hairs, wrinkles and stretch marks.
The best thing I have learned is simply to smile. No matter who you are, a smile makes you look better. And it makes you feel better too. I don't have great teeth and have been self-conscious of that but NO MORE. Just tell me if I have something in my teeth :)
I grew up with the idea that because I had a learning disability that people would take advantage of me and I would never get a good job! My parents went so far as to get mad at me if I asked questions and never tried to teach me anything "until I moved out" for me it hurt a lot!
Fantastic advice! My neighbor is an incredibly good looking woman: but she only sees her faults! it's like: what in the world is wrong with you? you are an incredibly wonderful person! and no one would ever think any ones "knees" are "beautiful"; knees are not meant to be "beautiful" but functional!
Thanks for such a wonderful eye-opener! Here I am at 54 and feeling much like the neighbor of the lady that could only see her faults! I have ugly knees too! LOL But really this opened up my eyes and made me realize a lot of things that people have been telling me for years! God bless you all!
Much love, Cindy56
Thank you for the fine article. I am so glad you have found out the truth about yourself. Don't ever let another person's opinion of you or negative message about you define you. Albert Einstein was thought to be "slow" or a "late developer" since he didn't talk until he was 4, when he said, "the soup is hot". Someone asked him why he had never said anything before then and he replied, " up until today everything has been fine."
My mom told me I "couldn't carry a tune in a bushel basket", but I set out to prove her wrong. Many people have told me they love to hear me sing and I have even now been complimented by my mom and sister. My son loves to hear me sing. Now I have people telling me I am too fat to become a teacher. I am somewhat handicapped by my weight, but I still plan to try to achieve my dream.
Thank you everyone for your wonderful responses. I just hate seeing so many women and girls who put themselves down constantly! Or they feel that their only worth is in their looks. Wow, how many girls put all their efforts into clothes, hair, make-up, and never realize that there is a really cool person underneath. And how many women lose weight, and gush about how much more outgoing they are now, and how much more popular, and it's all because they lost weight... but wait, couldn't it be because they are so much more outgoing now? I believe that a lot of women/girls feel that they don't measure up physically, and become shy, inhibited, actually feel ashamed of themselves. This effects how other people see them. If they threw off the shame, let themselves shine as is, they might just see different responses.
If I've helped anyone with this article, I am just soooo happy! Thank you all for you comments.
Yes, yes, yes! I went through a similar ordeal and at 60 years I finally began to see how much of my life had been miserable because I though I was ugly, useless, and fat. What a relief when you finally see the truth!
I LOVE your essay and I am so sorry that you had not one person who 'lifted you up' so you didn't have to be middle age before you realized you are beautiful no matter what!
When I was young I was skinny (all arms and legs) wore glasses and had such bad buck teeth that I could put my little finger in between my bottom and top teeth with them closed! Was mercilessly teased but I had a daddy who loved me and pointed out all the good things about me and he made sure I got braces for those teeth and taught me how to be a lady and just be myself. What a Blessing! A second Blessing was when I no longer needed the glasses or braces and filled out a wee bit.
The biggest Blessing of all for me, I think, was having the experience of being treated meanly because of looks before I blossomed at fifteen because it taught me at an early age to not judge the way people look and to never ever take for granted how I looked after the blossom. I actually ended up feeling sorry for the people who once had been cruel and then became nice when they thought I was more pleasing to look at. It showed me just how shallow they really were.
God Bless you for sharing because you never know just how much you can help others by simply sharing your story! And I am especially thankful you are finally happy and content in your own skin! :-)
Copasetic, I loved your post. When I was young I was bullied by an older sister and a relative friend of her's. They were both only a year older than myself. I was shy and had no friends. Some relatives always told me how pretty I was but I never believed it. Like you, I look back at pictures and think "why didn't I see it?" Now I see myself in comparison to that sister and relative and I'm so much more; prettier, smarter, stronger, healthier and always have been. I haven't seen the other woman in years and seldom ever see my sister who still has the need to put me down. Last time I saw her she told me I was too skinny and looked tired; and she was glad she wasn't in my position being a single woman again and having to look for a man. That really gave me a good laugh. She didn't mean any of that in a good way either. Even though she thinks I'm skinny which I'm not she's way over weight and can barely walk and has mounds of health problems. I'm not that shy introvert I once was and I distance myself from toxic people. I can't tell you how proud I am of myself and how far I've come.
Thank you for the wonderful words of wisdom. I'm happy that you finally see what they never did ;) I learned a lot from your post and will pass it along. :)
Well you hit the spot on this one! I was back to my early teens, just growing out of the skinny "boy" shape. I'd been brought up without a man in the house so when my much older sister married, I worshipped him. And he nick-named me "fat-arse" , and then he was shocked when I fell into bed with the first guy to say I was lovely. Like you Copasetic, I look at those few photos I allowed to be taken and I'm angry that I let this man bully me. 50 years later, there's still a bit of me that shrinks from people and cameras -and still I don't have a fat arse-and even if I did, there are far worse things. Like his petty meanness They never mean to hurt, of course not.Tell that to the teenage girl. Sorry, girls .Like i said-this hit a nerve.
The story you have just told is worth more than a visit to a psychiatrist. If only people would not be so cruel. I believe they do not set out intentionally to hurt our feelings, sometimes they honestly think they're helping us. You have to get your head above their shallowness and move on. But when you are young and malleable you don't see the bigger picture, you believe they know everything. Those of us who have been through it know how the words of others can affect our entire lives. A good psychiatrist will tell us the exact same things you just told, look inward and do not let the foolish words and opinions of others dominate your outlook on life. How sad it is that we usually are in the autumn of our lives when we realize how wrong they were and how great we are.
What great advice. Older sisters can put you down so much when you are a young girl. I experienced this too. And often in a family of girls there is the constant echo in the background, of the parents, saying "Really we were hoping each time that we would have a boy...."
I was amazed to read a story so similar to my own. These are very good words of advice. I am 67 and still look at the few pictures of me as a child and young person, and I have to really concentrate to not see fat and worthless. Thank you for sharing! God bless you!
You have brought back so many memories. I grew up in a household where the negative was the norm. I am 51 and starting to see my sefl worth. I even married a man to would fit into my family perfectly. I just took a look at myself and started to say, what is so wrong with me. I now do not take any gruff anybody. Your essay was right on time for me and I suspect a few others. God Bless You.
Wonderful advice and wisdom!
I love your essay! When I was 18 and trying to go to jr college, my 12th grade English teacher told me that I would not be able to pass college English. Well, I stopped going to school, however, when I was 39, I got my associates degree in business with a B in English. I am now 60 years old and just recently my older sister told me that I can't start sewing for a business to make some money. I just stepped up to her and said I would not accept anyone telling me that I can't do something that I wanted and would appreciate it if she would quit degrading me that way. I think she just didn't realize what kind of negative / upsetting impact it has on people when she states her unwanted / unnecessary opinion. Too bad I didn't learn the lesson sooner to take up for myself.
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