How I Will Redeem My Past: Elisheba’s Thoughts
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Charlotte Astrid.
HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Elisheba” is a pseudonym.
I am understanding why it’s so hard for me to deal with my body, why I’m so hard on myself.
I’ve been on a diet or been strongly encouraged to be on one or felt like I should be on one since I was 12 or 13. I was a little heavy but I was also a kid. Being told that men are visually stimulated and wouldn’t want to marry if you if you were overweight or that you won’t get the best guy, when you are 14 is crushing. Especially when you are raised to believe that marriage is the best, most honorable career a women can have and that everything else is second best.
Now that I am in my 20s, looking back I believe that those 2 messages are two of the most damaging things you could instill in a teenage girl, 1) you are only valuable if are slender and meet society’s “standard” of attractiveness. Don’t teenage girls have enough struggles with that thinking? Why would you reinforce that? 2) Marriage (living your life in complete submission to someone else) is the only way that you will feel fulfilled and be happy. Anything else is society deceiving you into thinking that you are happy. You become one of those poor, blinded, confused women. Again, how is this a good healthy, thing to tell anyone, let alone a teenage girl? She is not and will not be a complete person or her life will not be complete person until she find a man that she can totally lose herself in.
Isn’t that exactly the opposite of the message that we want to send?
As a young teenage girl, I heard these things. I believed them. I also believed that I was messed up because I wanted to have a career before I got married, if I got married (and that was a big if). I also believed I wasn’t attractive because of my weight and that I was ruining my future everyday I didn’t diet, everyday I didn’t lose a pound.
The past year, I’ve been trying to change my thinking patterns. I am not messed up or broken, because I want a career. I deserve to feel pretty and attractive even though I am the heaviest I have ever been (thank you birth control and stress).
It is not an easy change. I’m not anywhere close to being done. I still feel guilty sometimes that I’m not dieting. I count calories in my head all the time. I think I about throwing up anytime I think I ate too much. Sometimes I do. I still believe that an attractive, good guy won’t glance my way twice and if they do, they must be a perv or really desperate, because, I would never be someone’s first choice.
Even now, when I feel pretty good about how I look, it’s such a fragile, delicate, feeling that is so easily crushed. Some people in my life (who I dearly love) still can only see the flaws, if a neckline is slightly low, if my hair isn’t a color they think is good, if something isn’t totally flattering. Some days it makes me cry, some days I couldn’t care less what they think.
If I ever have daughters or young girls in my life, I will make sure they know that they are worth so much more than something to pretty to look at and to be married off so that they can lose themselves in oblivion. I will make sure they know they can do anything and be anything if they work hard and are dedicated. They will know that people do care about more than just looks and that each person is beautiful in their own incredible way.
This is how I will redeem my past and my childhood, by providing hope for the future generation.