When I was 8 years old, I picked up a black permanent marker and wrote all over the things in my room, "I hate myself". And I really did hate myself. I hated what I looked like, who I was, my limited view of the world around me. I thought that I was disgusting and that everyone else thought so too. This seemed to be proven to me as I didn't have any friends and at school I sat alone for lunch each day.
As I moved into my middle school and high school years, things got a little bit better. I made some friends and I don't remember feeling the same hatred towards myself. I do, however, recall feeling very uncomfortable in my body- awkward, skinny, long, and without any style. I was unsure of who I was, making the awkwardness feel even more, well… awkward.
I had friends and classmates who seemed confident, had great style, cute clothes, great haircuts, (well, as great as one could get in the 80's!) and I remember wishing I could feel how I imagined they felt. It seemed far out of reach for me.
In my late teens I started snowboarding and in my early 20's I started going to raves, and I finally felt like I found myself and my people- a crew of misfits that came together for the love of music and dancing. I wore big baggy pants (which hid my thin, long legs that I judged as ugly), cute little t-shirts, and skate sneakers. This perfectly matched the tom-boy that I was. This was the first time in my life I can recall feeling comfortable in my own skin.
When I moved from Telluride to Maui, I thought to myself, "How am I going to wear shorts?" I had grown so comfortable in wearing baggy pants that hid my legs. Shorts, in comparison, were so revealing.
At first, I wore long board shorts that came close to my knees. However, it didn't take long for me to start wearing really cute, short shorts and of course, as a surfer, lots of bikinis. Although I still judged my body quite a bit, I definitely got used to it being exposed.
When I was 30, living off the coast of Panama, I became pregnant with my son. I gained almost 40 lbs. I was so used to being naturally thin up until that point in my life that this was really difficult for me. I would look in the mirror and see what looked, to me, like two people put together into one. The skin on my face was pigmented from pregnancy, so it looked like I had a mustache. Living in the tropics did not help. I wasn't sure if I would ever be "me" again.
I'm 45 years old now, and although I no longer hate myself, I still struggle with loving my body and now, my weight. This is hard to admit as a COR facilitator and mentor. I have been telling myself that I can't share this because I am "supposed" to have it all together and be a leader and we all know that a leader leads by example.
I know that true beauty comes from within and that obsession with outer beauty can be perceived as vain. And yet, the body image struggle is real… and it is ongoing. Some days are better than others. Some days I look in the mirror and like what I see. Other days, not so much. And I definitely no longer take photos in my bikini….but can say that I do love who I am on the inside and no longer think of myself as disgusting.
Some final thoughts…
My body is a vessel that I inhabit. It takes me where I need to go. It moves, dances, makes love, births, sweats and shivers. It has been with me since the beginning and will be with me until my last breath. At times I have hated, ignored and abused it. At times I have loved, nurtured, and nourished it. It has caused me great strife and has offered me incredible experiences. Although my skin is starting to loosen, and there are wrinkles and sunspots and grey hairs, this is my one and only body and I can love it or hate it, but I know that true beauty comes from within….
Jessica Vignolle is a COR facilitator and a relationship and parenting mentor. You can learn more about her practice at www.corexperience.com/coaches.