Thursday, April 17, 2014

Finding My Inner Beauty: My Struggle with Self-Image

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”  ~Thich Nhat Hanh~

Self-image.  This is something that I struggle with.  I am slowly getting better with loving, and being comfortable in my skin.  I have always been overweight, I've always been the nerd.  It's not the nerd label that I've always had the issue with - I've above and beyond accepted my nerdiness, and will not change for anyone.  It is the overweight label that I've struggled with since I was a kid.  Bullies have been a common staple in my life - snide comments, questions of if I should or shouldn't eat something, and many other things have impacted me on levels that I've only recently learned. 

In sixth grade, I was bullied incessantly mainly because that was the year that I got my first pair of glasses.  So, not only was I fat, but I was the fat girl with glasses.  I recall one day, it was actually the day that it ended when I was bullied and demeaned so much that I burst into tears in the cafeteria at school.  The principle or dean had called him out on his behavior - yes, it was a boy, and no the old adage about 'he likes you if he picks on you' does not apply to this situation.  He had to publicly apologize to me and ended up receiving a two week in-school suspension, with a threat of suspension if his behavior continued. 

The bullying did not happen much during high school, but there were select instances - none that were as pronounced or memorable as that day in sixth grade.  I'd actually managed to get along with quite a few people at both the high schools I attended - and my nerddom continued throughout.  I was in various clubs and my friends were fantastic and helped boost my self-esteem and my self-image.  I even enjoyed going to things like homecoming and prom, because I felt good about myself.  The ups never lasted long though.  Depression sucks.  Being fat and hating the body you are in is something all together not a good thing. 

Looking back over the years I can mark the highs and lows, the happiness and the disgust at what I looked like.  Yes, there were boyfriends - not many because I was the heavy girl, and fat girls didn't usually get the guy.  But, the ones I got were decent enough, and treated me well enough (with exceptions) and the breakups weren't always my fault but thinking that I hadn't been enough, done enough was constantly a battle in my head when I was in and out of relationships in high school. 

Then, i went to college.  Enter the two girls that had turned out to be two of the biggest bullies that I'd -ever- experienced and I was stuck living with them for my freshman year. Things were well and good the summer before school started, and we even hung out - they even came to a P!nk concert with me at the House of Blues, however, when they learned part of who I was, they became slanderous and malicious toward me - and would constantly post rude and derogatory remarks on my message board outside our dorm room.  I ended up taking refuge with a few friends and ultimately found a way out of that room and into a room where I was accepted for who I was, and helped me deal with the bullying that had come from my first college roommates.  There was a time when I'd considered not coming back to school, because I'd had to deal with so much, but thankfully it did not perpetuate beyond that one semester - and once I was in a 'safer' room it made things easier and I enjoyed the remainder of my college experience. 

Finding people that accepted me for who I was, what I was, was something that hadn't happened since my little group in High School, and I enjoyed the fact that there were people that I could simply be myself with.  It was through college, that I learned to further be more accepting of who I was, it made the struggle easier.  It didn't end it entirely, but it was easier to bear the challenges.

To say that I have found the place where I am truly happy with myself, would be a lie.  But, to say that I am pleased with where I am now, would be accurate (though my employment situation needs to improve).  I have been progressively losing weight, health issues are getting better because of it and I am working on finding a place that will make me happier all around.