Messages to Ourselves

“I used to think there was just fat and skinny. But apparently there’s lots of things that can be wrong on your body.” – Cady, Mean Girls

At some point in elementary school I determined that I wasn’t beautiful.

And that mindset was reiterated to me through high school.

“Let me see yours,” Miranda said. She gestured to the large envelope I was putting in my backpack that contained my prom photos.

Oh gosh, me in a dress, with a guy I’m still good friends with.

I stared at her for a moment before I reached in and took out the small, black cardboard framed photo from a few weeks ago. She snatched it up, and examined the two figures grinning up at her.

“Why’re you so short?” Miranda looked up at me. She ignored the dress I wore, or the fact that my date was two feet taller than me. Miranda and everyone else had to point out it was my fault I was vertically challenged.

I shrugged. My height was something my friends had picked on. If it wasn’t that, it was my choice in clothes, or boyish haircuts.

Reading became my escape. It was much easier to face He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or the murderous trail of Count Olaf, than the friends that picked on my appearance.

I got used to telling myself in the mirror, “You’re not good enough for anyone.”

When I found myself in a relationship in college, my inner monologue didn’t change.

“Why would you date a hobbit like me?” I asked my then girlfriend.

“Why would you say that about yourself?” She looked at me as we sat on her bed doing homework.

“Cause its true. You’re beautiful, and confident. And I’m going to fuck this up,” I said. She set aside her textbook and scooted across the blue comforter to me.

“I happen to like hobbits. And you’re beautiful, too,” she said.

We showered each other with compliments, but I still had a hard time believing the kind words she said to me.

A childhood of negative thoughts had skewed my reflection.

Children are aware of body issues and methods to control body size and appearance by the time they are preschoolers, and many young children start exhibiting socially motivated distortions in their body perceptions.­[1]

At ten years old, I compared myself to the other girls in my class. It started when they took more time in the bathroom to fix their hair and apply another layer of LipSmackers. They cared about impressing the cute boys in class, and I cared about playing kickball at recess.

No one told me I wasn’t beautiful. I told myself.

My own words caused more damage than the casual or joking comments from friends. These micro aggressions taught me to see what was wrong with my body.

I stopped loving who I was.

[1] See “Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image.” Common Sense Media.


2 thoughts on “Messages to Ourselves

  1. Aubs, I hope you know that those things L said about you are true, even to this day. You are a kind, silly, spunky, wonderful human being–and all of that makes you beautiful. Keep your head up, pal.

    Besides, if you were taller, you wouldn’t have been able to stand on the window sill and hide behind the blinds to surprise Dr. Polley in class that time…

    Liked by 1 person

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