Every day, I see a lot of women that I think are prettier than me.
I used to let this crush me. Hell, I still do, but it’s not as destructive as it used to be. I went through an eating disorder in my teens, and as I got older and hungrier, I did the best I could to shut these thoughts out. I avoided and ignored them like they were telemarketers. “I’m not listening,” I said, as I ate the cake. “I can’t hear you,” I thought, as I opened the Pepsi. They came out in my subconscious. The pit of my stomach filled with dread any time I was out with friends and someone said, “Picture time!” Often, after the photo was snapped and shown to everyone, I sneaked away to cry.
I went from hardly eating at all to bingeing alcohol and food, convinced that I was disgusting and would never be any other way, no matter what I did. As I matured more into my spirituality and grew into self-love, I stopped doing these things because I knew they were not good for my health, physical or emotional.
I sucked my thumb as a child, and my two front teeth were all out of position. I had the income to work on this in my mid-twenties, and that is the journey you see me on now. The picture above is the first filter-less, fully facing the camera and smiling picture of me in probably years. It may even be the first one of me like this since I was a child. Even while I have my reservations about the photo, I consider it a success that I posted it.
For most of my life, no one said anything about my teeth, except children. “What happened to your teeth?” Or worse, “What’s wrong with your teeth?” I tried to tell myself that children don’t know any better, but I could never recall a time as a child when I saw someone who looked different and I asked them why. I didn’t question things like that. As a child, I witnessed unconditional acceptance toward me from certain people in my life, and I suppose that’s where I gravitated in my own views of other people and the world. It’s why I have the healing spirit that you see in me today. I am grateful for those people who accepted me and never made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I wonder where I would be without their subtle but infinitely good influence on my life.
Before I reached my teens, I cut my hair. People thought I was a boy. I guess I wanted to disappear, and I felt like cutting my hair would make me more invisible. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, whenever I go through something emotionally trying, I get that urge to cut my hair again. I get the urge to disappear. I don’t do it, but the desire is still there.
The girls in my school were beautiful. Some of them had long and silky blonde hair, or they were already using makeup and looked like adults. I wasn’t sure how to look like they did. I felt like it wasn’t my place to. I know that sounds strange, but it’s the truth. They were them, and I was me. I didn’t belong. I did what I could to make myself as small as possible.
My sister showed me how to use makeup when I was about fourteen. I enjoyed using it, but I never had the motivation to get good at it or look up makeup tutorials on YouTube. I just didn’t care that much. I never have. I’m not anti-makeup; I’m glad it’s an option. An appreciation for it has been something that also came more with age, but I still don’t care that much. If I don’t feel like wearing it, I don’t.
It’s the same way with exercise. There are some days when I’m angry or sad, and running feels therapeutic. I don’t do it because I need to “keep my figure” or “burn fat.” I do it because I want to. I do it to stop myself from punching walls or hurting myself. Otherwise, I don’t care.
Then there are times that I care too much. I see someone who looks normal and even beautiful in photos. Someone that everyone likes, someone that gets 100+ likes on every photo. Social media can hurt sometimes. It’s not my enemy, but I am learning when I need to log off.
I think a lot of people feel this way. People who more obviously fit today’s standards of beauty, even. Maybe the people who get the most likes on their photos feel it the most – that pressure to continue to fit those standards. Maybe sometimes they want to cut their hair too, or they want to not care as much, or they’re bored when they watch makeup tutorials. But they don’t feel like they can stop, because more people are paying attention to them.
I enjoy being invisible, for the most part. It feels more comfortable than being seen. It’s why I stopped posting so much personal material like this. When I wake up with something like this on my heart, I think it is because sharing it will help someone. I’m processing for the collective.
It’s not often that I say it, that I say, “I’m not as pretty as she is.” I don’t usually express this insecurity in a straightforward manner or a way that makes sense. I think my masculine side is actually much more dominant than my feminine side. My first instinct is to crush these emotions, to pretend they aren’t there. To talk about something, anything, other than this feeling.
I feel it, though.
I feel it deeply.
I just wanted you to know.