It happened back when I was in college. My self-esteem was incredibly low then...or, more nonexistent, because it had been so slowly chipped away throughout middle and high school. And when you’re told you are ugly every day, or made to feel it, for years on end, you just start believing it. I had no reason to think differently.
So it wasn’t only the idea that someone found me attractive that blew my mind, but that I could be something other than ugly. I had believed it was just a simple, permanent fact that that’s what I was, and there was no changing it. And then someone was defying that, going against everything I’d heard for so long, and showing me another option.
The problem there, though, was that the belief that I was not ugly didn’t exist because I believed it, but because someone else did. So once again, my self image and view of myself came from other people, albeit in a different way. It’s only really been in about the last five years that I have grown confident about my appearance, on my own, without validation or approval from others.
The thing that I realized is that whether you hate your body or love your body, if either one of those things is fueled by what other people are telling you, then it’s not coming from you—it’s coming from them, and they still have the power. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be the one with that power, the one in control of my feelings about myself, because I spent so much of my life powerless and feeling like I had control over nothing.
So it feels good to be able to look into the mirror these days and think, “You know what? I am pretty darn cute.” Cause now, even if no one else thinks so, I don’t need the reminders. Because I am the reminder.