Thursday, January 10, 2008

On Self Image

When I was in sixth grade, something happened to my body. I got breasts before any other the other girls. The flat-chested girls were jealous and I was mortified. I started cradling my books to my chest when walking from class to class, and I noticed boys were staring at me in class a lot more often. In short, I grew to hate my breasts.

My self-image was in the potty, so to speak.

I mean, at the time, I did not hate these boys. Still don't. I sort of hated that I began developing before most girls. Strange thing is that I did not feel more like a woman – just felt different than my friends. And I did not feel any prettier, though when I look at pictures me, I should have thought of myself as pretty.

Years later, I was talking some friends – and nearly universally, none of us considered ourselves pretty when in school. I am not talking "hot" because, lets face it, we were kids. But we were cute, all of us, and none of us knew.

In It's a Wonderful Life, there is a line: "Youth is wasted on the young." Now I don't believe the line because the young are foolish. And being foolish is more than it is cracked up to be. Foolish means carefree. Foolish can mean free-spirited. Foolish is great, really.

But foolish also doesn't know how pretty she is when she was thirteen years old. Or how wonderfully she was inside, how fully of hope, how full of dreams. All she remembers is how clumsy guys got, bumping into her breasts between classes.

Yeah, parents can tell you that you are pretty when you are young but you really never believe them.

Yesterday, I read a bit of self-flagellation on one of my favorite blogger's sites, and in a second, all of these thoughts came pouring out. The world is full of beautiful.1 people, and it is sad to know that most of us never really consider ourselves beautiful.1

1Beautiful can mean so many things, and while I primarily focused on physical beauty in my examples, I was thinking of everything that makes someone unique – gifts of intelligence, patience, kindness, and talent, as well as unique physical traits, like the wrinkling of a nose to an unpleasant odor.


~Deb said...

This post brought back memories. I was a tomboy and boys always flocked to me because I had cool toys: atv's, motorcycles, and other "boy interests". The girls I hung out with were "pretty" and considered "hot", as any young boy would consider - not an adult. Truth was, I never wanted to look like any of them. I didn't like girly hair, girly clothes, nor did I want to wear make up..............until the prettiest girl (who I had a crush on) told me how pretty I was. She did my hair like hers and dressed me up in girly clothes and told me I was beautiful.

I never stopped being feminine till that day.

I was 12 yrs old.

Oddly enough, I still get nervous when I see her. I'm 33.


I also think that when we're young, words are so important, and children are so careless with them. Self-image can be damaged when kids say the stupidest things.

I loved this post! I hope you're doing great, Leesa!

Happy New Year!

~Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leesa said...

~deb: I still get nervous when I see most childhood friends. Like they know more than others.

Ian Lidster said...

You raise some excellent points here, Leesa. It actually took me until my mid 30s before I considered that I might be OK to look at. This was despite having had numerous females tell me I was and offering the 'ultimate compliment' in that regard.But, I was never given that message when I was very young, and maybe needed it.
BTW, my beautiful and bountiful ex also developed boobs, large boogs in about 6th grade, and she too agonized over it.

Anonymous said...

We expect too much from little girls and too little from little boys.


Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I was a cute kid but not after I hit sixth grade. After that, I was always the fat, dumpy girl...from about sixth grade till I was a sophmore in high school. Then I lost some weight, bleached my hair and started smoking and became a rebel. Me. Can you believe it? ;)

I'm still waiting to develop boobs though....and I've LONG LONG LONG been out of sixth grade.

*sigh* ;)

I DO see what you're saying doesn't and certainly ISN'T strictly a physical attribute. A person can be beautiful on the outside but truly ugly on the inside.

Frankly Speaking said...

I've often thought women could rule the world -- they're smart, capable, caring, much more so than men -- if only they believed it to be so. Self-esteem is a woman's Achilles heel. It's a generalization, but I think it's often true.

Leesa said...

ian: it took me a long time to get over some experiences in sixth grade.

edge: simple yet profound.

stacey: have you ever noticed that some average looking people who have a beautiful spirit look wonderful?

frankly: who says that women don't rule the world.

Video X said...

I didn't find out I was pretty til around 26. It didn't last long...hehe. By the time I hit 30, I quit being a blonde and the things I found out that were important. I still had self esteem though. I don't know how it goes away, but I guess sometimes it does. Thank you for your post! I'll read it a lot of times...then maybe I'll feel better!

~Deb said...

Video - I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin until I was in my 30's as well. I think more importance falls on other things, rather than outward appearances. Hrmm, but then again, I find women that are older much more attractive. That's just me though.

Pittchick said...

Leesa, I hope your post helped VX. I know her personally and I think she's a great person, both inside and out!

Ian Lidster said...

I have given you an award, Leesa. Please check out my blog.

Leesa said...

VX: Funny that we find out we are pretty far too late in life.

~deb: thanks for the message to VX.

pittchick: I think your messages help more than anything I can write.

ian: er, thanks, I think.