I’m a tall, broad European woman who is totally unlike the rest of her family - my sisters and mother are extremely tall and very thin, I was always the “Chubby baby”.
I am extremely receptive to the photoshopped advertisements and magazines you see everywhere. I have done my best to cut these out of my life entirely, however with them lining the city I live in and every corner of the internet, it’s hard to ignore them completely.
Before I found my current partner - now husband - I dated a man who would tell me constantly how he found petite Asian women to be physically perfect, as they tended to have straight hair and flawless skin. After dealing with this for a long time I began to resent women around me to the point where I could trust no-one, and compared myself to the women that my ex was attracted to. I tried to kill myself many, many times and never succeeded, to the point that I criticized myself for failing something as simple as dying.
What I am doing to help myself:
I had a year of psychologist appointments, until I could no longer afford them. (I’m not sure they helped much. All I really took away was that I’m not perfect female ideal and never will be so I should focus on being a good person.)
I try to tell one person I don’t know very well that I like something about them every day (To help with my suspicion, paranoia and comparisons of other women.)
When I try on clothes, and I don’t like the way they look, I tell myself that the clothes do not fit me, not that I do not fit the clothes. So long I starved myself to fit jeans that didn’t work with me, when I could have bought a different pair that enhance my shape rather than try and make me look smaller.
I do not insult or demean myself in front of my friends or sisters or other women. This is to help other girls who really do listen to what you say. If they look at you, and you insult yourself, they will take that on board. If I go out shopping, and complain I look ugly or fat, what if my baby sister thinks she has to match up to the insane standards I set for myself?
I try to spend time with people who have good confidence rather than people who are paranoid and also have body issues. When I’m around people who are confident, I feel confident. They also don’t feel like they need to insult me or bring me down because they don’t need to belittle people to feel better about themselves.
What I need help with:
Whenever I work on accepting my body, I tell myself “You’re only accepting your body because you’re not good enough. If you were pretty, you wouldn’t have to settle for just being a good person. You could be a pretty and good person. You shouldn’t settle, you should strive for perfection.”
I tell myself that body acceptance is taking the easy way out, when really I should starve and hate and cover myself in make-up until I achieve “Beauty” even though I’ve done that and it didn’t work.
People tell me that photoshop is impossible to achieve, but it’s touted as being beautiful, and therefore, even while impossible, I internalize it and make it my goal.
I have all the knowledge to work through this. I’m physically healthy apart from a chronic illness that is now manageable, I’m intelligent, I’m kind, I’m loyal, I’m generous and hard working.
So why does it matter so much that I’m not a model who has then been digitally altered? Why do I not feel pride when people compliment things other than looks, but even when people say I’m beautiful I make excuses for the compliment, telling myself it was only said because of *Insert reason here*?
I’ve been trying to accept myself for eight years now, ever since my first partner showed me digitally altered porn and asked what was wrong with me to make me different to the women in the pictures. I thought I was some kind of mutant.
Now I know I’m normal and perfectly fine how I am - but the doubt, confusion and self hatred remain. I don’t want to live another eight years hating myself.