When I was a teenage girl I had low self-esteem.
Today I am not sure why. Looking at old pictures, I now see a beautiful young girl with the perfect body, curves in the right places, and a killer smile. I was no Heidi Klum, but I certainly could hold my own.
Then I didn’t like my curly hair because I didn’t know how to tame it. I didn’t like the ash blonde color (or grey mouse color as I unlovingly called it) I inherited from my dad. I changed my hair color every month until I finally stuck with a lighter shade of blonde.
I didn’t like my ears. They are not perfectly attached to my head and I thought for a long time I would need surgery to flatten their appearance (haha… silly me).
A boy ran me over with his BMX bike on my 6th birthday and ripped open my cheek with his pedal. I have a nasty scar on my cheek that faded away with time, but for years I was embarrassed about it (it’s barely visible, actually).
I didn’t like my teeth. Somehow I just didn’t lose my baby teeth until I was in fourth grade and when my grown-up teeth started coming in, they grew any which way they wanted. Not only did I have to have extensive orthodontic work, I also had to have teeth removed because they just didn’t all fit in my jaw. I was certain I would never, ever smile again in my life.
I didn’t like my C-cup boobs because a so-called friend told me to take the pencil test. If the pencil doesn’t fall down you apparently have saggy boobs. She had A-cup boobs and there was nowhere to put the pencil to begin with whereas my C-cup boobs held on to the pencil quite well… saggy boobs at age 16! Nobody wants that!
I didn’t like my arms because I felt they where too muscular for a girl.
I didn’t like my back because it was too wide.
Then I was 135 lbs (61 kg), but I’m “only” 5’4″ (164 cm), which isn’t bad, but I didn’t like my belly because when I sat down I had a little muffin top (don’t ask me how much I still weigh 9 weeks postpartum, please).
I didn’t like my butt. I had wider hips and a flat butt that I also inherited from my dad (geez dad, why didn’t I get the good stuff! Oh wait, I got your hair, too. That’s pretty good!).
At 13-years-old I couldn’t fit in my mom’s bell-bottom jeans because my thighs were already wider than hers. Of course, I didn’t like those either.
I didn’t like my calves. My dad always said I had calves like a soccer player (or like his mother, a hardworking farm wife).
My toes had some hair on them and the same pencil-test friend said it was disgusting and no guy would ever want a relationship with me because of the three extra hairs growing on my big toe.
There I was– barely grown and insecure beyond anything anyone could imagine. I hid it well behind a tough girl persona: smoking cigarettes, riding a moped, wearing a black leather jacket rain or shine, baggy pants, and Army or Dr. Martens boots. I made sure no one would see or notice any of my flaws.
Despite all those flaws, I met the most thoughtful and kind young man twenty years ago. The first time I spent the night at his place and woke up in his arms, he told me I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Dragon breath and all. I was sure he had lost his mind, not put on his glasses, or was lying through his teeth.
I am thirty-seven-years-old (at least for another month) and looking back I can only chuckle at my (silly) adolescent self.
The curly hair has gotten curlier since moving to North Carolina. When the humidity is bad, I look like Monica (from Friends) when she went to the Bahamas. But I know my husband loves my hair — crazy and all. It reflects who I am perfectly since I am a thinker and my mind is often buzzing with thoughts. Also, I am still the same color blonde and now it hides my grey hair… actually who knows if I have any since I haven’t seen my mouse-grey hair in twenty years.
My ears never got that surgery, but they’re actually not as bad as I made them out to be. They hear perfectly and can listen for hours. They listen to my husband’s war stories and my children’s cries, songs, and happy stories. They listen to my friends and family in need. They have listened to many clients’ stories and I now passed them on to my #bonusbaby, so we have something visibly in common. That makes me proud.
That scar in my face was not the first or the last scar I got on my body. It tells a story and is part of me. Nobody has actually ever noticed it or asked me what happened, so it really isn’t that bad at all.
My parents paid a lot for the orthodontic work I had done and it shows. I love my teeth now and take great care of them. My dentist will tell you that I am a little obsessed with them actually, but in a good way.
My husband has always liked my C-cup boobs. Now they have grown into ginormous DD-cup boobs and they have fed #rainbowbaby for 26 months. I was able to donate milk to another Mama’s baby for a few weeks and they’re now feeding #bonusbaby quite properly. I would certainly fail the pencil test today, but I think they’re marvelous boobs for doing such an amazing job.
My arms are still muscular and they can carry quite a load. They carried my daughter when she was small, my #rainbowbaby, and now my #bonusbaby. Those arms can give amazing hugs to my husband, children, family, friends, and former doula clients.
My back has taken a beating when I flew off my motorcycle Superman-style, but it didn’t break when I had to be mom and dad while my husband was deployed. It carried our household’s chores, yard work, and more when my husband was too busy studying for his Bachelors and Masters degree and when he went through Special Forces training. It is strong and now has beautiful tattoos all over it reflecting my story.
I am certainly heavier than I was in my youth, but those are just numbers and eventually I’ll get back to normal again. Right now I need the extra fat to breastfeed and make it through the sleepless nights all the while I manage a four-year-old’s tantrums and welcomed back our 19-year-old daughter who was abroad for a year. It is definitely a stretch accommodating all of the personalities in our house at the moment, but I am patiently enforcing diplomacy between all of them and praying for continued patience and wisdom.
My calves are still muscular, but I can walk for miles and they don’t get tired. I have walked with my clients before birth, alongside my friends, my babies and family. I will continue walking with all of them physically and spiritually, until the Lord comes again.
My butt is bigger and so are my thighs. I realized that my body composition is just different than my mom’s and I was never going to fit in those jeans… ever. If they ever come back in style, I’ll just get some in my size.
What is my size?
Do you care?
I am the perfect size.
In my next thirty years I am going to love myself more than ever, because this thirty-seven-year-old body of mine grew two perfect little humans. One with a lot of help and the other miraculously all by itself.