I want to start a conversation about beauty…REAL beauty.
Let’s pull back the layers of pretense and have ourselves a real, authentic conversation about what true beauty really looks like…on your own terms.
Did you know that I was bullied in high school? I mean, let’s be serious, many, if not all of us, have stories of high school bullies calling us names or laughing at some embarrassing thing that happened to us. Some bullying situations are way more serious and long lasting than others. Mine, thankfully, were short lived and only done by a handful of people. But the hurt was very real and the potential impact that it could have had on my life was serious.
I was made fun of for two things: first was my size and second was my sport.
I went through puberty really early (like nine!) and so naturally, I was ahead of just about EVERY SINGLE girl in my class when I showed up to school wearing a bra for the first time. I can remember the older girls (in older grades) would run their hands along all of our backs during lunchtime and try to see who was wearing a bra and snap them loud so that everyone could hear and make fun of them. Yup, I was the only one who had a bra snap. I was mortified.
Then in high school, being the smallest weight I ever was in my “adult” life, I started dating a guy who loved to poke fun at my weight. Why on earth I thought he was good to keep around for any length of time, is quite frankly beyond my comprehension today. “Football shoulders”, “You look like buckets of lard”, etc, etc. I was maybe 115 pounds soaking wet and yet I still managed to believe those horrifying things that he spoke into my life.
(Note: These two were my besties in high school and still today are my very dearest friends, although we all live in different countries. We did so many amazing things together and so naturally, when I went back to find pictures of my teen years, I only seem to have ones with them in it).
During that same time, I finally found a sport that fit me PERFECTLY. I had been one of those kids who bounced around from sport to sport to sport every year, desperately trying to find something I was either good at and/or interested in. Finally, synchronized swimming was it! I had always been a strong swimmer but I was also a very artsy person who preferred the more artistic sports. Aside from child birth, synchro was by far the HARDEST, most physically demanding thing I had ever done in my life. Spending upwards of 12 hours a week in the pool, I was proud of my sport. And while I was probably one of the worst in the entire club (largely due to the fact that I had started at 12 versus many of these girls had been doing it since they were seven), I didn’t care. I was PROUD to be a competitive synchronized swimmer.
But still, I found myself getting made fun of by many of my peers. “You’re just a water dancer! That’s not a real sport!” often said with a laughter and accompanying eye rolls. Every time I heard that, my soul was crushed a little.
I would only last about four years in synchronized swimming before I realized that I wouldn’t be going anywhere serious with it and decided to pursue a part time job instead. But I look back on those four years with fond memories, because even in the midst of being made fun of…even though it wasn’t a “cool” sport…even if it was considered “girly”…I was darn proud of what I had accomplished during those years. And no “water dancer” comment would ever take that away from me.
As I sit here and write this post, more than 15 years since I have last seen that ex-boyfriend, I am about double that weight that I was in high school. I have moments where I shudder and think “Oh man…if he thought I was fat then, he would die to see me now.” But I’m SO HAPPY to tell you that those moments are SO FEW and far between because instead, I have WAY MORE moments where I think to myself with excitement “Gosh, I WISH he could see me now!! I’ve never felt more beautiful in my entire life!”
You see my friends, we’ve all been there. We’ve all had moments in our lifetime where people have said hurtful things that had the potential to change the course of our lives. Maybe it did for you. Maybe you still live with those words haunting you, so many years later.
I’m here to encourage you and say NO MORE! Let yourself be free of those mental bullies that love to eat away at your accomplishments, at your success and at your life! They aren’t worth a single, solitary second of your time.
Or maybe they aren’t in your past. Maybe those bullies are in your present. In your workplace. In your family life. Even in your relationships. It’s time to dig deep and believe in yourself and not let yourself be defined by other people’s words and expectations.
Did you know that nine in 10 Canadian women admit to having opted out of important activities, such as attending social engagements, when they didn’t feel good about the way they looked….EVEN THOUGH eight in 10 Canadian women believe every woman has something about her that is beautiful.
Or did you know that eight in 10 Canadian girls have not been assertive in their opinions or stuck to their decisions, when they didn’t feel good about the way they looked, while nine in 10 have stopped themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk.
THIS HAS TO STOP! We say one thing and then live a completely different way. It’s time we STAND up not just for beauty in the world, but for YOUR beauty. For MY beauty. For my DAUGHTER’S and YOUR daughter’s beauty, if we are ever going to see change.
It’s time we start believing what we are saying.
I absolutely LOVE this new video from Dove called “Beauty on Your Own Terms.” I found myself shouting “YES! YES! YES!” after each women stood strong in her own beauty because it’s everything I am saying here today. It’s believing in yourself, no matter what friends, family and society might say. It’s owning your curves, your curly hair, your boyish looks, your profession. Not backing down, not feeling ashamed, not being labelled a certain way due to certain features. It’s your beauty, therefore it’s your say!
Bullies will always be there. People will ALWAYS be all-to-ready to say mean things. We can’t stop them for saying what they want to say. But we can stop them from having any kind of impact on our lives. We CAN make the choice to live and celebrate and succeed in our own, unique beautiful selves.
Kate Winslet echoes the words from these Dove heroes when she said this:
And so as I wrap up this first of many great real beauty posts, I want to hear from you. How have YOU overcome beauty limits that society has placed on you? Maybe it was a bully? Maybe it was a nasty comment from a co-worker. Maybe it was the discouragement of a family member. Let me know in the comments below how YOU have overcome those negative comments and walked forward in your own beauty, on your own terms. #MyBeautyMySay.
Love & Blessings,