Monday, March 3, 2014

Step 1: Admit the Problem

I had an experience this past weekend that really has me thinking. On Saturday I went window shopping with Nate (the guy I am dating). While looking at clothes I was looking at some black tops, He suggested that I look at clothes with color. I've heard this plenty of times from my mom and my sisters, so it wasn't new to me. We looked around some other stores and the more time we spent looking at clothes the more sensitive I was getting. He'd suggest going into a store that we'd be walking past -ones I've never been in before. I'd immediately say things like: "Everything is so bright in that store" or "They wouldn't have sizes that fit me". I ended up admitting that I have a hard time wearing color and pretty things because I "don't feel like a girl".

To explain what I meant by that: I've had a lot of bad dating experiences. Most of the guys I've dated have been rude, controlling, manipulative,and power-hungry (over me). And honestly, a lot of the guys who were like that had pornography problems. Some went so far as to tell me things like this: "You should grow your hair out because short hair is ugly and makes you look like a man. Women need long hair", "You should die your hair blonde and grow it out because that's what's sexy", "you should start losing weight because you're getting a bit big", " You should get a boob job because I like big boobs", and  on and on. Now it would be great if I could say that I dumped them immediately for stuff like that but I didn't. I've always had self-esteem issues. It's been bad for as long as I can remember. In  high school I was in the best shape of my life because of water polo and swim team. At that time I still thought I was FAT. Really? I look back now and I'd like nothing more than to go back to that body. So, not only did I feel like these men were calling me a man because of my short hair, but I don't dress very feminine and I act tough to emotionally protect myself, hence why I don't feel very much like a girl.

Because of my experiences from dating and lack of self-esteem, my brain has been trained to think that only certain type of women are attractive. Skinny, thin, long haired women (mostly blondes). Which is ridiculous because I only apply that to me. So in reality, all women are attractive and desirable except me, because in the end every woman, besides me, has something that guys want.

I know, I know... Then why is Nate interested in me? I, honestly, don't know, but there's obviously a reason. The Belief System in my head is messed up. I constantly compare myself to other women.

I have in the past couple years been steadily, but quickly, gaining weight. And while there is a big movement in the U.S. to accept "real beauty" and women with curves, I don't feel like I can even be a part of that movement. These women are confident and accept their curves. I am not. I am not just curvy...I am getting BIG. If I keep gaining weight, (which if I don't watch myself, I will), I won't have curves anymore. I will just exist. (Now, I do want to explain that I don't judge those who are big or extremely curvy...however you want to  put it. My belief system only applies to me.)

So, back to my experience. I have a jacket that I like to wear. It is a bit baggy and thick. It has a huge hood with fur on the end. Nate told me that it reminds him of Allison in the movie The Breakfast Club. I would joke back saying I am her. Okay, well...the more I thought about it the more I realized I am pretty similar to her. I tend to be quiet with new people at first, opening up the more I am around them. I'm weird, wear dark clothes, sit in the back, and wear black makeup...Even she ends up having a make over in the movie. At the end of the movie the popular Claire gives her new make up (light and natural beauty enhancing) and she's all of a sudden wearing light colors. Then the jock is all of a sudden taken aback by her beauty.

I hide. I am hiding behind my weight gain. I am hiding behind all the black. I am hiding. I think a part of me has let myself get to this point because I don't want guys like my exes to find me attractive. I think another part of me is scared of people seeing the "real" me because I have this misconception that the "real" me isn't very attractive or a good person. Another part of me feels like I if I did start dressing more feminine-like and with bright colors I'd be judged..."you shouldn't be dressing like that you've gotten big and you're not attractive enough to be wearing clothes like that". I'm afraid people will think I'm trying too hard. I am afraid of feeling vulnerable and being noticed. I told Nate I don't like being noticed and he told me he wants people to notice who he is with. I know that he didn't say that to mean that the way I dress is ugly (which actually could be true haha) or that I am ugly or unattractive. He thinks I am beautiful. He tells me he's lucky to have me and I don't blame him for wanting to show that off. But, I make it difficult.

By the end of our shopping trip I was in a really bad mood. I was even more self-conscious and down on myself. Even though the emotions I was feeling were legitimate, I still think it was ridiculous.

On Sunday I went to church with Nate's family. During sunday school the teacher listed thoughts that a lot of people have to rationalize their behavior or for whatever reason. Anyways, one really stuck out to me. It basically described measuring beauty by the standard of the world. God doesn't judge my beauty by what I look like. He wants me to be healthy, yes. But I don't need to be really thin or over the top fit to be beautiful to Him.

I want to accept who I am. There are so many things about myself that I've supposedly accepted, but am still embarrassed about when it comes to telling people. I want to accept where I'm at in life and who I am right now. I won't be satisfied with my life if I don't. Some people say that if you want to change you have to first accept who you are.

So I am going to start today. I know this kind of thing doesn't happen over night. Or even a couple weeks, but I need to do this. Not just  for my sake, but everyone else's, too. It is hard to love someone who doesn't love themselves.

So tell me your tricks. What motivates you the most to make changes in your life? What have you done to love yourself? to be confident?


  1. Good post friend. For the last year and a half I've been back to exercising regularly. At the beginning it was kind of frustating because i made the mistake of comparing myself to the rest of the people working out. "I should be running faster" "I should be lifting more weight" these were things i told myself often and make it hard for me to enjoy my workout. As time went by I've realized and found joy at not comparing myself to other and their progress, but rather focus on my own. Now going to the gym is pleasant and even fun.

  2. Geez Louise. I feel like you went into my head and wrote my feelings, but much more eloquently than I could have done. I have boxes of clothes that fit me two years ago, that I can't even kind of squish into, but I can't bring myself to throw them away or donate them, because somehow, my worth is tied to me getting back into my own pants. I have a gym literally steps away from my apartment, but I feel like I don't look good enough to exercise (I'm dumb like that). That being said, I have been working on my motivators. I have a family that needs me to be healthy, I have friends who want me to succeed, and I have myself, and I deserve to feel good about being me. I'm ready to be cute again. Thank you Katey.

  3. @ Emilio Z. How were you able to stop comparing yourself? Even when I've told myself to stop thinking that way, it just gets worse or I can still feel the emotions of those thoughts. Trying to distract my mind from them didn't help much either.

    @Chelsea Packer I'm glad we feel the same. I know that most people (especially women) feel like this a lot, but it's hard to remember that you're not alone. And I have the same thought about working out! It doesn't help that my room has huge closet mirrors and I can always see myself. Those are great Motivators! I think self-esteem issues always come down to the self and it's great to look outside. Thanks for the tip! :)

  4. Thanks for sharing, Katy. I know it takes a lot of courage to talk about your struggles so publicly, but it's a good feeling, isn't it? And besides that, I'm sure you are helping lots of people (like me) by sharing. I only set one resolution this year: "Love yourself" and honestly I still don't really know how you do that. I spent the first year or two post-divorce dating guys with no long-term potential because I didn't feel worthy of being loved by anyone who had it all together. One thing I learned a few years ago is that the more you are yourself around others, the more people are drawn to you. I promise it works. I spent a while only applying it to the select few I was willing to be myself in front of, but as I am learning to bring my walls down I find my list of real friends is growing.

    Once in therapy a few years ago, my counselor urged me to pick people out of the crowd - "those" people - the cute, blonde, skinny, well-dressed girls I was comparing myself to - and analyze the way I compare myself relative to that one person. "She must have lots of friends. Guys ask her out all the time. She is a lot happier than me. She has less in her life to worry about." etc etc..... when you really think about it, there's a really good chance that being thin and cute made her no more happy than I was at that moment, so then I couldn't really use my appearance as an excuse, could I?

    I have like 5 more things in my head but I don't want to write a sermon. Thanks for sharing, really. I am very interested to see you tackle this challenge in your life and hope that I can learn from it, too. And for the record, you are a gorgeous girl. I'm pulling for you!