*Steps on my Soapbox*
This topic has been heavy on my heart for a while, yet I haven’t been able to find the right words (which I will explain in just a second). Then this morning, I was checking my Facebook and a dear friend of mine posted a status that brought the issue back to the forefront of my mind. I just can’t stop thinking about it. So here goes-
Self Esteem is a crazy thing. Our self esteem is affected by all kinds of outside forces- TV, movies, strangers, loved ones, etc. Self Esteem is a monster that I struggle with every single day from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. Most of the time, no one knows what the heck is going on in my head when it comes to this topic.
I read an article by Shape magazine that said that if a woman has lost a significant amount of weight, she should not tell her potential love interest until sometime after date 5. Why should a woman feel insecure about a major accomplishment in her life? Weight loss doesn’t define me, but I’m damn proud of the 40 pounds I’ve lost so far because I worked hard for that. Whether I’m a size 22 or a size 2 (in my dreams), I’m still the same person. Why would I want to go on 5 dates with a “Summer’s Eve” just to find out that he doesn’t want to proceed getting to know me because I used to be a size 22? This is the perfect example of outside influences on one’s self esteem. Weight loss is NOTHING to be ashamed of. Be proud of your accomplishments!
Now, my good friend whom I’ve known for longer than I think we care to admit (*cough* 15 years or so *cough*) posted this morning that a “friend” (and I use that term VERY loosely) messaged her after she posted some selfies over the weekend. Now when she posted these pictures, she advised that she had gotten some new makeup and put on some eyelashes and you could tell she was feeling good about herself. Now this amazing friend of mine is a fabulous cook (if her pictures are any indication) as well as a wonderful friend and girlfriend. She and her BooThang just went through a situation that no human or couple should have to go through. Yet, when she posted a selfie of herself feeling good, her “friend” reached out to her to advise that she looked pretty in the pictures but it looks like she had gained weight. REALLY?!?!?! My friend has been open about the situation they have been through so for this friend to reach out to say this was completely unnecessary and uncalled for. My friend went on to admit that she, though normally very self confident, has been feeling very low about herself though she hasn’t let anyone know. This message was just salt in the wound for her. It made her feel worse about herself.
Now I know many of you are saying “Well, maybe the friend was worried about her health…yada yada yada” NO. Expressing concern about someone’s health is not done in this way. Why have we become a society of people that like to tear each other down because of the numbers on a scale or the size of our pants? Why do we use “concern” to cover the fact that we are just being rude? I’m not just referring to overweight people either. Skinny people get it too! When did shaming become okay? When we could hide behind the keys of a computer?
Let’s all take a minute to walk in someone else’s shoes. I could stand to do the same. I’ve never understood someone who just needs to lose 10 pounds. I’ll admit that I do an internal eye roll when I talk about my own journey and a “skinny” girl says “Oh yes! I’m struggling to lose 10 pounds.” See? I just shamed her in my head. I’m guilty. Now I can relate to being fat shamed. I read comments about fat shaming and not only does it make me angry, but it makes me sad. How many times has someone looked at my picture and said “Girl needs to stay away from the buffet!” The truth is buffets disgust me. Someone who doesn’t know me will never know that.
Have you ever realized how much self esteem affects your surroundings even when you don’t show it? I’ve been off my game since I moved. I’m having a rough time adjusting and finding my new normal. I joined a gym, but it’s not my gym. I don’t feel comfortable because I don’t feel comfortable with me. I’ve felt absolutely horrible about myself in the last few weeks. I just want to cry because I don’t like what I see in the mirror. Yet, I don’t want to go to the gym to help do something about it because I don’t want people to look at me thinking “Look at that fat girl! What is she doing in here?” I had these same fears at Chucktown until my trainer CJ told me “No one is looking at you. Everyone is in here for their own reasons- to maintain, to build muscle, or to lose weight. You don’t worry about anyone else. You focus on you.” I didn’t believe him at the time, but you know what? He was right. However, it’s not the same atmosphere. Luckily, I’m not in a contract, so I’ll cancel and move on. I get a discount at the YMCA so I’m going to try that out- but I digress.
Self esteem also affects our relationships. My Ex-Boyfriend told me once that he hated when I talked bad about myself. He said that I would talk about my disgust for the 10 pounds that I had gained. He said it hurt him to hear me talk about myself that way because he thought I was beautiful with or without the 10 pounds. The old adage is true- no one can love you until you love yourself.
So why is it so hard to love ourselves despite what we see in the mirror? We’ve become so conditioned to measure our self worth based on outward appearances. We, as human beings are more than just a number on a scale or the size of their waist. We are more than the color of our skin, our hair, or our eyes. We are more than the brand of clothes we wear. We are more… we are awesome.
So if you are reading this and are feeling down about yourself or just need some friendly affirmations in your life- I am saying this to you. You are an amazing person. You have taken life’s punches and gotten back up to be here in this moment. You are a great friend, coworker, lover, sister, brother, daughter, son. You are an inspiration. You make this world better just by your presence on this Earth. Whether you know it or not, you have changed someone’s life. God chose for you to wake up breathing this morning. He gave you a purpose for your life- even if you are still searching for it. God loves you. I love you. You are perfect just the way you are.