Mirror, mirror on the wall

A girl at school once said to her friend as they walked by me “If I looked like that I’d kill myself”.

Those words stung and I never forgot them. I became miserable because of the way I looked.

Unfortunately, I wasted too much time and energy feeling negative about my body.

Negative self-image

When I looked in the mirror in my twenties I saw a young man who was too skinny with the wrong kind of hair; I couldn’t make my hair look cool, I was constantly trying to change it to find the right style.

It was too thick, too heavy, grew too fast, too short, too long; it just didn’t look right and I never felt good about it. I went to different hair salons and barber shops to try to look better, but I always felt ugly.

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Feeling ugly

I always felt ugly after buying new clothes, too; they didn’t look as good on me as they did in the shop, they didn’t fit properly, they didn’t make me look cool. I thought that if I was able to look cool, then everything else would be OK. I was a bit obsessed with this whole wanting to look cool thing.

I’m trying to remember the moment that I finally stopped caring, when I finally accepted my body for what it is.

Media

I stopped buying magazines. I knew that I was never going to look like the men in FHM or Men’s Health or Esquire, and that there was no point in torturing myself over it anymore.

Gym

I stopped going to the gym. I knew that no matter how many weights I lifted or how many miles I did on the rowing machine or how far I ran on the treadmill, I was never going to morph into a big muscley guy. Exercise just made me lose weight, it didn’t bulk me up.

Clothes

I stopped paying attention to fashion. Instead, I focussed on figuring out which clothes suited me, and stuck to those. I stopped wasting hours walking around endless stores; I know which store sells the clothes that fit me best so I only go there, about once a year.

Glasses

I stopped wearing contact lenses. My eyes were in pain, so I gave in and went back to wearing glasses. Having healthy eyes was more important than worrying about how I looked. I found frames which suited my face and fully embraced the fact that I need glasses.

Hair

I stopped worrying about my hair. I went through a phase of shaving it all off, and it felt amazing, as if I was shedding all my insecurities as well as my hair. I have accepted my hair for what it is.

Body confidence

I stopped caring about what my body looked like. This was partly due to experiencing social nudity; I realised that we are all essentially the same without clothes on. I’m not saying everyone should go to a nudist beach, but it worked for me.

It was also partly due to my relationships; it was revelationary to not only feel accepted for my appearance but also to be desired.

I am happy to be me, and only wish that I had accepted myself much, much earlier.

Mirror, mirror be gone.

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