WARNING: This is long but stick with it.
I think it was Courtney that posted this Dove video yesterday and I’ll admit that I did the quick Facebook glance. I didn’t watch it, I didn’t have to. All you had to do is look at the preview image to know what the video was going to show you, which is that when presented with two options…more often than not, a woman chooses the “average” door.
But after a few hours of work, errand running and gym time, I found myself still wanting to see the clip. So I watched it but wasn’t ready for the emotional chord it struck. It wasn’t until the mother daughter approached the doors only to have the daughter go towards the average and the mom pulled her towards the beautiful. That moment, really triggered it for me and I teared up at the thought that this girl didn’t see herself as beautiful.
Last week I wrote a post about function over form and how I’m very happy that my daughter is growing up in a house where it’s not necessarily about physical beauty but more so it’s about finding the strength within and in that beauty lives. But then I had to be honest with myself and I felt like if I wasn’t honest with you, than I would be deceiving you so here it goes…
Early on in my life I got called a few nicknames that hurt at the time, more than I care to admit. Now I could give two shits but at the time…not so much. The nickname centered around my lack of assets if you know I mean. I never talked about it…what was I going to say? I couldn’t change anything and he was right, I didn’t and still don’t have anything up top.
Years went by and it wasn’t till I got into high school and started playing sports and other activities that I felt my self-worth was more than just skin deep. I wasn’t a stellar athlete or a rock star academic but I was happy on the court, I was happy on the field and it was there that I found confidence. It was in those sports that I realized that regardless of my cup size, my body could do great things just the way it was.
Fast forward to life after college when organized sports ended. I was on my own. I got antsy. I needed a competitive outlet but what I didn’t realize at the time that I realize now is that I also needed validation in someway and I started to become self-conscious again. The reflection in the mirror was not showing me what I wanted to see.
I found solace in the gym but it wasn’t enough and I started to look for ways to combine my love of the gym with my need for validation which is when I turned to fitness competitions which I LOVED but also developed an unhealthy relationship with. I loved looking like this:
What would depress me is that this wasn’t possible to maintain and so I spiraled a little. I ate a lot added 20 pounds and just couldn’t find my happy place. Somewhere down the road, I got out of the gym and ran up the hill at my apartment complex. That first run hurt and during the run I felt like I lost any self-confidence I might have had left. Then I finished the twenty minutes and it wasn’t till then that I felt it. That feeling you get when you realize your body just did something pretty great that I never thought it would do.
So I did it again, and again. I started to see my confidence comeback. I started to realize that I was capable of great things.
The major turning point in my life really came when the kids came. To this point, I was proud of myself as a runner, triathlete and whatever else but still always worried a little about my physical weaknesses. It all clicked when they came into my life. I realized that we are so much more than what we are on the outside. Women are strong…woman are exceptionally capable…we are loving…and the list goes on.
It was then that I stopped worrying about the physical. The most important thing wasn’t what was on the outside. Oh sure, I could still tell you what my flaws are: crappy skin, no chest, and hairy but I don’t let them rule my life. In fact, I really don’t think too much about them.
Maybe its perspective, maybe it’s age but I’m over worrying about it. I just wish it hadn’t taken me 30+ years and two kids to get there.
Do I see myself as beautiful? Would I walk through that door?
I still don’t think I could. I can’t get past the stigma that beautiful means physical beauty but I definitely wouldn’t walk through the average door either. If there was a door that said Strong over it, I would march right through and be proud of every step. I see beauty in what we do as friends, sisters, mothers, athletes, academics, and the list goes on…not what we look like.
I think that’s my role as MiniE’s mother, to ensure that as she grows up she understands beauty to be much more than physical and make sure she never waivers and that it’s OK to recognize beauty in yourself. That doesn’t make you cocky or self-absorbed. Be proud!
So what would you do? How do you see yourself?