Lately, I haven’t been feeling too great about myself. Every time I look in the mirror, I find myself unhappy with my reflection. This has been causing my depression to kick in, my anxiety has been telling me that my partner is going to leave me and is not attracted to me, and the best part – my eating disorder has been trying to devour me. And I’m trying so fucking hard to keep my head above water.
My body has been bothering me, but strangely, my face has been driving me crazy as well. I can’t stand the shape of my face or the way my hair falls, and that’s not exactly something that I can just change about myself – and, I’m working on self acceptance and self love anyway.
My partner asked me an interesting question recently: why am I so insecure? It’s a simple answer, really. First, there’s the fact that the entire universe tells women (and men, but let’s be honest, mostly women) that they’re unattractive unless they look like X, Y, and Z, and should be actively doing A, B, and C to look better. Then, I had to deal with growing up with an overly misogynistic father constantly putting down “unattractive” women and excessively obsessing over and praising “attractive” women. I was taught from an early age that I should look like X and should not look like Y. On top of that, my mother had a tendency to point out all of my flaws throughout my entire life (she viewed me as competition that she had to tear down, or something), even going so far as to making me wear a girdle when I was a child. I also got bullied throughout middle school for my bad skin, turning me into some kind of insecure mess – I never wanted to go to school and hated any activity that involved people looking at me.
I always think of this video when I think about where it all started (tw):
I could make a list of all of the things that my mother pointed out to me as “flaws” – in fact, I’ve made this list a million times before, but there’s no use in me going through all of the things wrong with me and there’s no use in you knowing all of the things that I hate about myself. That’s not going to get us anywhere. After getting bullied for my bad skin for a few years, I finally ended up with generally clear skin, and that’s when the eating disorder started.
I’ve tried writing about this before, but I think one of the reasons my eating disorder developed is because I was in a state of constantly needing to “better myself” and become more “attractive.” That’s definitely not the only reason, which is a topic I hope to write about in a later blog post, but I think it’s a part of the cause.
(I’m not going to post photos of my body for the sake of being triggering and also I want to take the focus off of my body during recovery.)
Anyway, present day Melissa hasn’t been feeling too great about her appearance and it’s grown from just my body back to concerns with my face and hair. I feel like I’ve come around in a full circle, but now I’m insecure about everything rather than just one thing at a time. It’s pretty overwhelming.
So what was my answer? I compulsively dyed my hair back to my natural color, getting rid of my blonde ombre and highlights and just matching my root color. This strangely gave me an insane confidence boost almost immediately, despite the fact that the same night I had this confidence boost, I nearly started sobbing because I felt like my partner is completely not attracted to my body at all anymore. This breakdown is what prompted his question of where my insecurities root from – and honestly, I don’t know why these things still bother me. Why do I still look at myself and think that I am not pretty? Why do I still look at other women and view them as prettier, better, and even as competition?
I’ve been trying to live by that quote – the one that says something like, “I don’t have to be pretty like her, I can be pretty like me!” That’s literally so true. Someone else’s prettiness doesn’t take away from your own prettiness, at all. And yet, seeing an attractive woman makes my confidence absolutely plummet. It’s just like, am I supposed to look like her? Because I don’t look like her. I look like me.
When I opened up to my therapist about this kind of stuff four years ago (I no longer see this therapist) she told me that I can just change myself – I can do things to change the way I look, and besides, there are tons of people who would kill to look like me. I didn’t really understand how her advice was productive, which is why I stopped seeing her. I wanted to get to the root of the problem and fix it, learning to love and accept myself before changing myself. That’s still kinda my goal, honestly – I’d rather love and accept my body than focus on changing it. And let’s be real, there’s not much I can do about my face besides wear makeup (because I can’t afford plastic surgery, even if I wanted it.)
But, back to dyeing my hair back to its natural color. It’s helping. I feel kind of great about myself – not fantastic, but better than I did yesterday or the day before. I think it was the small change that just kind of shocked me back into being impressed with myself, and I’m okay with that. I needed to be reminded that I can look in the mirror and be excited about what I see, even if that’s just a different hair color. It’s kind of a facade – I think that I’m excited about my appearance in general even though I’m only excited about the hair color, but I’m still feeling the overall excitement at my reflection.
I didn’t know how to answer my partner when he asked me about my insecurities, because it’s such a dumb, bland answer. I’ve been influenced by the beauty industry, misogynistic parents, bullies, and an eating disorder – and years later, I still can’t shake it all away. While it’s not every single day that I feel so god awful about myself, it happens often enough that this is something I am continuously working on because all I want in life is that goal of self love and acceptance. And if small changes are what I need to challenge my insecurities and remind myself that I am something worth getting excited about and looking at in the mirror, then I’ll continue dyeing my hair every now and then, styling it differently, or putting on a crazy shade of lipstick. Whatever helps along the way.