I recently got a new laptop. One of the first things I was sure to do was transfer over all of the writing from my old laptop to my new laptop. While I don’t do much actual writing anymore, I do still go through a lot of my older stories. I do this to keep my fingers frosty for future edits if I ever decide to make time for the novel I had been working on. But, I also do this because it’s almost like a learning experience. I get to re-learn what I thought, what I felt, and how I wrote so many years ago. And with each passing story that I go through and make changes to, I see the same things over and over again when I write out the part of the lead character: poor self-esteem, poor body image, negative feelings regarding the self. And each one of those characters is based off of who I am or a specific aspect of my personality I wish to bring into focus. However, the basics remain the same: looks are based on what I would like to look like or what I actually do look like. And no matter how the story is written or what it is about, I always end up with the same very bad, negative self-esteem and body issues.
While noticing this prevailing oddity in everything I write, in the background, a horde of people on Tumblr have begun posting selfies in the tags I follow. It started off, I think, as a way to pass a day. And now, it seems to have taken on deeper and more meaningful connotations. We are all – yes, I am included here – posting pictures because we are uncertain of ourselves and we want to share our bad body images and poor self-esteem with others. Not because we want to hear those compliments, though that is a nice bonus, but because we want others to see that we all have our problems. For example, I will not post a picture of anything below my breasts. From the boobs on up, everyone can see what I look like. But, nothing else will get posted because, as far as I am concerned, I am fat (and the BMI does not lie). As I re-read the stories I wrote all those years ago and as I post those pictures in those tags, I’m starting to see how much self-worth I think I have, which is precisely none.
As an exercise the other day, I stared at a selfie I took the other day. It was blurry and not the best lighting, but it wasn’t horrific. However, as my eyes traveled up from the outfit I was wearing to my face, I couldn’t see my face. I couldn’t see this rounded face that people always discuss about being pretty and nice-looking. I don’t really know what all of these people see, honestly, because I don’t see that at all. I see every blemish I have currently and every single one I had as a teenager. I see every imperfection highlighted with the purple bags beneath my eyes, the thinner lower lip, the slight upturn to my nose, the rounded jowls from my pregnancy, the limp hair, the buck teeth, the rotting teeth, and any other aspect of my face that makes me want to cry with how ugly I am. Every day, I look at myself in the mirror with this intense desire to give myself a pep talk: “You’re pretty. You can do anything you set your sights on. You’re awesome. You’re beautiful.” And every day, I just shake my head, refuse to meet my own eyes, and skulk away from the hideousness that greets my face.
My self-worth shouldn’t be contained in what the mirror shows me every day, but it appears that as logical as that is it is not the case here. And that this has been an ongoing issue for many years. How do you fix yourself when you don’t even know what caused you to become broken in the first place?