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Beauty and the Beast

Now before you think of the beloved Disney movie where a misunderstood girl has to live as a prisoner in the house of a selfish prince who was turned into a beast only to fall in love and her kiss breaks the spell... which might I add is a cinematic masterpiece... sadly this post has absolutely nothing to do with that. We are talking about a different beauty... you... and the beast in this story is something that a lot of people face in one way or another... body dysmorphia. I know, most people would rather talk about the movie, everyone loves the thought of two unlikely people meeting, going through tough situations, and then end up falling in love... add in talking home decor and catchy songs and you've got a winner all around.

But life is not a fairytale, and if you come upon a castle in a creepy part of a forest I highly recommend that you do not enter it... there will be a beast in there and you will not marry it... it will most likely eat you. That being said, if you are anything like me, at some point you have had issues with the way you look... now I am not talking about that hair cut in high school that you swore looked great, the pants that zipped off into shorts, or the plastic choker necklaces and butterfly clips... 90s babies where you at... I am talking about physical insecurities. Feeling like you weren't skinny enough, were too skinny, too tall, too short, the color of your hair, skin, eyes... everyone... and I mean everyone had some form of body dysmorphia. Some more extreme than others, consuming every aspect of someones life... others grew to love the way the looked and embraced their bodies... I always envied those ones because I was definitely in the first group.

Don't get me wrong, I was a cute kid... but like most I had the awkward stage where I felt like such an ugly duckling... and sadly was bullied in middle school and part of high school because I wasn't as pretty as the cool girls... now when I was a senior I was starting to feel a little more confident (pictured on right). I was a cheerleader, played water polo, and then was a captain on the swim team... even though I did all of those sports I still felt like I was bigger than all the other girls... I was never happy with how I looked. People would tell me I looked pretty and I just couldn't see it, I told myself " oh they are just saying that because they are your friends and they have to".... no they didn't... looking back now I know they meant it, just like when I would mean it when I complimented them. I feel fortunate that Facebook was in its infancy when I was in high school, Instagram was non-existent, and thank goodness going to school trying to look like a baddie was not the norm. I don't know if I would have survived the monster of social media that reigns today... I struggled enough as it is. I wish I could hug my younger self and tell myself how beautiful I was... I also wish I still was as fit as I was back then.... so much... I mean three sports a year meant that I was such a beast... I caught girls falling from the sky, was able to play what is the equivalent of soccer but in the water... my stroke on the swim team was the butterfly... I was an athletic monster and hated my body, my strong beautiful body.

Then there was college... the beginning of the Instagram era... parties... alcohol... but ironically I ended up being the smallest I have ever been... when I was 19 I ended up finding out that I was allergic to what felt like everything. Wheat, gluten, yeast, corn, potatoes, strawberries... yeah I know... that means Taco Bell... it was torture... now did I deviate? yes... did I regret it? always... but did I have the metabolism that kept the weight off? yes... I was also spending so much time in the gym because I still thought I was fat... and I wasn't... I actually looked sick. For reference... I am 5'5" and 3/4 and yes I hold on to that 3/4 in with both hands because I can haha... a healthy weight on me is 165... I have a booty... and I love her... but when I was in college I was 125/130 and I looked so small... to the point of my grandmother asking if I was anorexic... and in a way I may have been. I was so go-go-go that I forgot to eat or grabbed something small. I ran all the time, drank instead of ate sometimes and I just never thought about it... I wanted to be small...and sadly even though I look tiny in the picture above I still thought I was overweight... body dysmorphia is insane... so insane.

I have been out of college for almost 8 years now, at 31 I have seen years of fluctuation... but thankfully have never gotten as small as my malnourished body when I was a 20 year old. Am I where I want to be weight and health wise right now? Not even close... But I am working on creating a healthier version of myself both mentally and physically. At 26 I was in the best mental and physical shape of my life... I was running 4-8 miles 5 times a week, stretching, strength training, I was doing great... but I had no trouble or trauma... I was living my best life.... at thirty one, forgive my language but, I've been through some shit. I lost everything in a California wildfire, found out my mother had cancer, became her primary caregiver, watched her take her last breath, lived through COVID-19 in solidarity and drowning my depression and grief in alcohol, almost losing my life.... but I am here... I am taking the steps to create a beautiful life for myself, and trying to build a strong supportive body to go with it... physically and emotionally.

I think that everyone is gorgeous... so uniquely one of a kind... and it is the uniqueness of every single person on this planet that makes human kind so beautiful. We need to embrace our personalities... embrace how we are imperfectly perfect but remarkable in our own way... I want to support everyone I can and let them know how truly beautiful and amazing they are. Be kind to each other, you never know the demons that others are battling... If I would have lived in this generation of social media and unrealistic body expectations... I probably would have ended up in the hospital... I wasn't strong enough mentally back in college and high school to have survived what they go through today.... but believe it or not they are still just as vulnerable as we were... so be gentle. Be kind. Be passionate and supportive... just be a good human...

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