Self-image: what’s true and what’s your own lie

I cleared out 6 boxes this morning. It great to actually see the wall in my basement again instead of boxes piled on boxes piled on boxes. It took me hours to go through 6 boxes and served to remind me why I kept those boxes for years. Some of them are from high school. MY high school! 

As I was clearing through them (and it really is pretty easy because there are only 2 piles: throw away or keep) I found things I couldn’t even remember and some that were bittersweet memories. I found an actual invitation to Honor Night from my senior year. I didn’t realize I went to class enough to even qualify for Honor Night! It was REAL!! I didn’t forge or fake it! I just stood there staring at that thinking….”Did I go to that? Why can’t I remember that?” One would think I could remember such a monumental occasion in my high school career since I’m positive it only happened that one time!! 

I found my uniform skirt. We were the last class to go through DeSales with only a skirt. The “Jumper” started after us. So by senior year, it was VERY easy to see who was a senior just by her uniform. Jumper = underclassmen. Skirt = Senior. Oh yes, we were very awesome in our herringbone skirts. Don’t mess with Catholic girls. 

I held up that skirt and looked at it, realizing I could now probably fit one leg in it, but in high school, I felt so fat. So many of the girls were skinny, and fit, and cheerleaders and had boyfriends and were the things that give girls eating disorders now. I had my size 10 skirt and was a fatass. At least in my head. I see pictures of me from back then and I think good grief, if ONLY I could have thighs that size again. But the whole time I had those skinny thighs, I thought almost daily, how fat I was compared to the other girls.

I don’t think that feeling ever goes away for high school girls and unfortunately, I think it has only gotten worse in this technology based era. Girls snapping photos of themselves in low cut shirts, thrusting their chests forward.  Shooting pictures of their asses in the mirror. Naked pictures that eventually wind up getting passed all around school and beyond. “Juicy” written across their butt. (For the record, if I would have ever dared to try to wear anything with the word “Juicy” written across my ass, my Dad would have not only burned that article of clothing, I guarantee any future shopping trips would be accompanied by him or my mom. Plus I would’ve been grounded for 18 years for even considering to wear it.)

The other girls, the other 95% that aren’t taking the pictures are looking at the pictures. They are sizing themselves up. Comparing. And the internal dialog starts. How do you ever quiet those voices? 

I’m going to share something that I have never ever mentioned to another soul. (That’s what blogging is for, right? Spilling your guts? Who is reading my trivial dribble anyway?) When I got my first “grown up” job at the ripe ole age of 19, working for a bank, a friend of mine and I were chatting in the breakroom, laughing about something. I distinctly remember laughing because the laughter abruptly stopped. Some douchebag (yes, I’m trying to bring douchebag back. Like “fetch”, but not.) guy in his mid 20s came up to us said, “You’re both pretty hot, but I would marry you (pointing to my friend) and not you (pointing to me) because after 25, the only thing that’s going to be skinny on you is your ankles.” And with that….he walked away.

It is now 27 years later, and I still remember what I had on that day. I don’t remember going to my Honor Night at school, but I remember this no name douchebag who insulted me so badly that I’ve never forgotten it. I still look at my ankles sometimes and think, yep, only skinny part of my body. How flipping insane is that?? And it’s all internal dialog.

We must teach daughters, and nieces, and cousins, and friends, and anyone else you can reach, that they do not have to have Juicy written across their ass. They don’t have to aspire to look like the Homecoming Queen or the latest model on the cover of Cosmo! Healthy, fit, confident. That’s what matters. Preach it to them. Daily. Because sometimes, you never know what voice their hearing inside their head.  

One thought on “Self-image: what’s true and what’s your own lie

  1. Awesome! This is so true…I have forgotten so many things, good things, that it makes me sad. But some of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard have stuck with me to this day. My ex told me I had “cottage cheese” legs when I was young and beautiful and I have been so self conscious of my legs my entire life. I hear that every time I look in the mirror. I do, now, in fact have them, but I surely didn’t back then. If only we had self esteem when we were young…

    Thank you for sharing, Chrissy.

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