Like many, many people out there, I share selfies on social media quite often. While I really do try to share an image that is authentically me, I do touch up photos to present a more flawless image. As a makeup artist, I always felt the need to share an image that displayed my talent and professionalism. Part of that image was putting forth a flawless image of myself. I don’t feel like I am being dishonest though, since pictures have always been touched up by photographers since the invention of the camera. I realize this is a controversial issue. Though I might soften blemishes, I do not correct or enhance someone's bone structure and shape.
There is, however, a secret hidden in plain sight. A secret I’ve been carrying for years. I thought it time to stop sharing this picture-perfect image and start sharing the secret I’ve been keeping.
If you were to take a gander at my gallery you would notice one thing. I often share photos taken from the shoulders up. I almost never share a picture that may display my entire body. There is a reason for that. You see, any time that I have taken a full-body picture, I cringe at the sight. I am horrified. Sometimes I may hide my body by standing behind someone or wrapping a sweater around my waist. I may wear a black flowy dresses or sweaters to minimize what I view as unattractive.
When I see these photos, a cycle of unbelievable self-hate incurs. A mind full of awful words like, ‘gross’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘ugly’ start hitting me like arrows to the self-esteem. As a young girl, I was always thin. I would enter a dressing room and flaunt whatever outfit I was trying on. Though I have always had self-esteem issues, I wasn’t afraid of three-way mirrors or wearing my favorite dress. No, this version of next-level-self-hate began when I turned forty, two years after giving birth to my only child. It’s almost as though my body said, “Oh! You’re forty now! Let’s give you every challenge possible to maintain a healthy weight.”
I’ve been on every kind of diet. From keto to low-carb to popular programs like Optavia and Noom. You name it, I’ve done it with little to no results. Spiraling into a hopeless cycle of punishment. I’ve talked about this very subject with my husband countless times and always ended up frustrated and depressed. Not because he wasn’t supportive, but because I wasn’t able to find answers.
Like many out there, I started the beginning of each year with a new source of motivation and a plan. Year after year, I would build up motivation only to lose it when I didn’t see results or wasn’t happy with the progress. The negative self-talk would start again until it became such a regular habit, I didn’t notice I was talking to myself this way. This type of self-hate was piling up and a simple, “how are you doing” would bring me to the brink of a breakdown. At least, that’s when I couldn’t cover it up with a fake smile and change the subject.
I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who gave me this advice, “You need to show yourself grace.” That hit me like a ton of bricks to the heart. Those words are still echoing and resonating within me. Truthfully, I was initially taken back by those words at first and thought, “Show myself grace? Don’t I do that already? Wait, what exactly is giving yourself grace?”
We’ve all seen that experiment where a plant dies after receiving negative energy as opposed to the other plant that receives positive messages and then thrives. I realize now that I was treating myself like the plant receiving negative messages. I am not going to thrive if I don’t give myself some love and care. Instead of taking a time off for a spa treatment, I needed to dive deeper.
First, I needed to stop talking to myself negatively. Easy to say and hard to do. When you’ve built a habit over years and years, stopping the negative cycle is like telling a lion to stop hunting. I was anxiously waiting for my next pitfall at every step in my journey and therefore, punishing myself off before I even had a chance to celebrate any small steps in my progress.
Today, I am still on this journey and trying to give myself “grace”. I allow myself to fall sometimes and remind myself that the triumph is in picking myself back up and placing one foot in front of the other. If I am to stay committed then I have to accept that I will fall sometimes. The fall is part of the process instead of the roadblock that keeps me back. I no longer let a number on the scale dictate what kind of day I’m going to have. In fact, I don’t use the scale hardly at all. Instead, I take note on how I am feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally that day.
While I am not where I want to be physically, I think it’s more important to have my head and heart in the right place if I’m going to be a healthy and happy human being. It’s all part of the work in progress and this time those roadblocks are not going to keep me from being authentically me.