Or maybe we don't. I have no idea who is reading this, and what, if anything, they know about my week and my life. I'm writing this entirely for my benefit, but if someone else gets something out of it, well... that's pretty great too.

If low self-esteem and bad body image are going to bother you, by all means, look at this gif for a while, and then go check out something more fun.


For those are you who are still here, well. Moving on.

I have low self esteem.

Which... okay, is not really that unusual, I guess. There are plenty of other people out there who are in my boat, I'm sure. I very much doubt that my issues are unique. I don't think I'm very pretty or attractive, and some days, I'm not even sure that I'm very smart or clever or funny. There are a lot of days that I look in the mirror and I just can't think of anything nice to say to myself. No "cute hair," or "nice top," or "hey that was a pretty bright thing you did, go you." Just... "Oh, okay. Well, finished washing my face, so that's something. I guess you're not a complete loser."

Geeky Spouse thinks this is something I need to work on, and I really am trying, but it's hard. When someone says something nice to me, there's a voice at the back of my mind going "LOL, NOPE," and if I say something nice to myself, I know I'm just saying it because someone wants me to (generally GS. It's part of his program to get me used to being kind to myself.) And I hate to blame this on something stupid like mommy-issues or daddy issues, but... Part of me really has to give credit for at least some of my self-esteem issues to my Dad.

And doesn't that sound pathetic? I can't even take credit for my own issues. But... here's the thing. I love my dad. I am pretty ridiculously a Daddy's girl to the extent that GS always laughs a little to see us together, because it's so obvious. And all the while growing up, Dad used to pick on my little sister's weight. It's something she struggled with more than I did when we were kids, and he would say stuff to her like "you look like a five pound sausage in a two pound bag" if she was wearing clothing that didn't fit.

Real sweet, right? We both pretty much hate that phrase now.

But then he would look at me sometimes, and then turn to my sister again, and say stuff like, "You're just like your mom. Zoë's like your aunt. You know how gorgeous your mom is--when you're grown you'll be just like her, and Zoë will be overweight like your aunt." Actually, I believe the phrase he used was pear-shaped. (I know it was. It's difficult to forget. He said things like this while I was present.)

He would also tell her that she was smarter than me, that I had to work for everything while it just came easily to her, and if she would only apply herself... And so on. (Here is my dirty secret: In school, I never needed to work for anything. It just came easily to me too. I did the work because I wanted the grades. It wasn't lack of understanding and the need for more practice.)

So Dad was trying to build up her self esteem... generally at the expense of mine. And not very successfully, I might add. Being told constantly that you need to lose weight and watch what you eat and that you'll be pretty later is no more helpful than being told that no matter what you do you'll never be as bright and pretty as your sister, so why even bother.

And then, of course, I started struggling with my weight, so I started getting the weight comments, too. Including a memorable occasion where I came home from college for Thanksgiving, he looked at me and said "Are you pregnant?" I had been dating my then boyfriend, now spouse for a month at the time, and I was a virgin. I was mortified. My stepsister overheard, and--to her credit--made some comment to him that I can't remember, but was along the lines of STFU.

She's always been so classy.

Anyway, the point of that long wallow in pointless family history is... I have really terrible body image. Which brings us back to today. Which is Wednesday, and Wednesdays are always just a little... challenging for my self-esteem.

I'm a Weight Watcher and have been for nearly three years, and my weigh-in day is Wednesday. I woke up this morning (a little late), and showered and dressed and looked in the mirror and thought... "Well, not bad, Zoë. Actually... pretty good. You look good today. Surely you have lost some weight this week." The thought was kind of shocking, actually, because usually I look in the mirror and go "oh, God," and don't see the fact that I have lost about fifty pounds in the three years I've been a Weight Watcher. (I see it when I look at before pictures, but not when I actually look in the mirror. Whatever.)

So, weighed in today, and... I was up a half a pound. And before you say anything, yes, I know that weight fluctuates wildly and that a half a pound is nothing really and could just be me retaining fluid, or a thousand other things, and not to put so much weight (ha ha) on the scale. I've been a Weight Watcher for three years. I know. But I'm up about 9 pounds from my lowest weight on the program, and I'm frustrated, and seeing that today was really disappointing, especially when I started off the day feeling so unaccustomedly good.

So I'm trying to remind myself to be proud of the fact that I felt good this morning, and that I actually went to the gym a lot this week, and maybe I wasn't as good about eating healthily as I maybe should have been (Day of Gaming Drunkenly, anyone?), but I did a lot of other things that were really good for me.

But it's hard, because I have low self-esteem, and I just keep looking at myself and going... "Welp. You blew it. Just like you always do. Why are you even bothering?"
toasterchild: (miscommunication)

From: [personal profile] toasterchild

I'm putting this here because I want you to be able to see it if you ever feel this way again and come back to this post. (This is Ang, btw.)

My mom sucks often and a lot. My dad did too. And my brothers. I grew up in an abusive household, constantly on diets (literally for as long as I can remember), where I was only loved as much as what I could accomplish, never for who I was. It wasn't until I found friends that I trusted that I began to acknowledge that maybe I had some self-worth. I still struggle with it today, obviously, but I'm so much better than I used to be.

I say that because I want to share some of the things that helped me. And they may help you, they may not, but if there's a chance they will, it's absolutely worth it to me to put in the effort to share them.

1. Accept compliments.
It seems small, but it can really start to change your thinking. If you trust someone (your friends, whoever) and you respect them, then you need to trust and respect their opinions too or else you really don't trust them. If they say you look nice, say thank you. Even if you're going "yeah whatever" in your head, saying "thank you" aloud means that you accept it at least to some degree. A small one, but it's a start.

2. Along the same lines, accept praise.
When someone says something you did was awesome or that you've done something great, even if you don't agree, say thank you. Don't downplay it or pass the credit (share credit, if appropriate) -- you don't need to brag, but you can accept the acknowledgement for the thing(s) you've done.

3. Say something nice about yourself every day.
Some days, this is easy. "GOD I'M SO WITTY." Other days, it's impossible. Still say something, whether you believe it or not. "I'm smart. No, I'm really not. Yes I am." Argue with yourself. Even if, at the end of it, you feel dumb, it's a step. Eventually, you'll start arguing with yourself and winning (...in a positive way).

4. Once you trust your friends and are arguing with yourself, be honest.
I can feel stupid sometimes. I used to feel completely stupid a lot of the time. But when I'm really honest with myself? I know that I'm not stupid. I still don't necessarily believe that I'm funny, but I know that I can procrastinate on a paper and still pull an A or that languages come easier to me. I know I can problem solve and that I know a lot of math and science mentally that others need calculators for, etc. Social comparison can be a bad thing, but it can help you to be honest with yourself too.

If it's negative, steer clear and pick a different topic. "I'm less attractive than most people" kind of thing? Just pick a different trait. "I'm wittier than most people." No, seriously. Look at most of America. Not your friends or online peeps, but America. The average reading level is 8th grade. BAM! You're already more literary savvy. It's important that you don't let this become an everyday or individual thing. It shouldn't be "I bet I'm smarter than that guy;" it should be "No, I really am smart. I know that I am, because I can _____."

I know these sound cliche. I thought they did, at least, until I started using them and realized they worked. Cliche for a reason, I guess. Most things are. :| The truth is, replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones really does make all the difference in the world and, often times, that means faking it until it's true.

Another thing that may or may not help is looking to Health At Every Size and Fat Acceptance. I'm not saying not to use Weight Watchers or that you shouldn't do what feels right for you, but learning more about it really helped me to gain perspective and come to be more alright with my body. I still have major, major body image issues, but I don't hate my appearance like I used to. Even if I still feel fat a lot, now I at least appreciate that my body breathes and pumps blood and that other people might be more okay with my appearance than I am, etc. I've subscribed to Ragen's "Dances With Fat" blog (one email per day, that I read in clusters of a few days). She presents a lot of statistics/studies and breaks down others' claims with facts; she also provides a great perspective that I don't normally have on a lot of things.

I wish that there was more I could do, and I know that other people have felt the same about me. In the end, it's all what you think for and about yourself. Let your attitudes change your behaviors and let your behaviors change your attitudes (that may seem paradoxical, but it's really not; you have more than one of each).

I feel like I'm rambling now. Know that I love and adore you. You're one of my closest friends and I hope to remain that way. I think you are an amazing person. You are intelligent, witty, fun, honest, and a genuine delight to be around. You are attractive; I'm not going to say you're model stunning (though even models are photoshopped), but you're definitely attractive and definitely more than you give yourself credit for.

It's okay to feel down sometimes. Everyone does. It's okay to doubt yourself or to be insecure. It's okay to want something better. It's not okay to hate yourself or tell yourself that you're worthless. You can even think that you might be worthless sometimes, if you really need to, but you can't tell yourself that. When I took a belly dancing class, the instructor said something that has always stuck with me: "No one in this class is allowed to say 'I can't do that.' You're only allowed to say 'I haven't mastered that yet.'" It's okay to doubt, but keep that in mind. It's not "My body is shit" or "I look like shit;" it's "I look like shit today." Even if you say it everyday, you're still giving yourself the option to change tomorrow.

Try to go easy on yourself, lovely. You are, in the end, all you have. As Tom Cruise says in "Rock of Ages": "I live in here [my face]. No one else does." -- or something like that. ♥
Edited Date: 2012-06-15 01:31 am (UTC)


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