Confidence, Angles, Acne Scars, and...wow. Look at how skinny I used to be
Let's just start with the truth - Photoshop, when used to alter someone's face and/or body, is deception. I have told this particular lie. I'm kinda calling myself out on it, actually. For anyone who can plainly see me in real time, walking around this earth, living my life, it is plainly clear that I am overweight. I used to be able to hide this (still try) with camera angles and only taking and posting selfies. Now? All I can look at is the ever-present double chin. I could sit and focus on the chin, or I could focus on the life that was lived while it developed into a problem. The acne scars and skin texture that didn't exist for a majority of my life until 2020 hit and I had the worst breakout of my life. Couldn't sleep on it. Couldn't touch it, Couldn't get rid of it with all the tools I knew to use. God is good and I found something that FINALLY got rid of the initial issue, but I now see the red and textured scars that cover the right side of my face every time I apply my makeup. But what else is associated with that acne?
I have never. In my life. Been this insecure. And, I think it shows.
I still maintain the opinion that fat girls have to work at least twice as hard to be presentable in this world than mid-sized and thin girls. Clothes are impossible to find sometimes, I pay an extra 3 dollars for my pants, I wear through the thighs of my jeans twice as fast, my rings don't fit my hands, I can't afford the high-quality concealer that makes my skin look like a newborn's, and whenever I walk into to Target or Old Navy I feel like crying because in an "effort" to be "size inclusive" they got rid of the section I knew to go to, and in an effort to make room for all this "progress", they don't carry sizes over XL in stores. Oh but! "You can go online for our wide selection of sizes and styles! Fit for every body!" Fits that I can't send back if I try them on, shipping them back is $5, and I have to drive all the way into town to ship it through this one specific mailing company I've never heard of... I feel very included. Thanks.
101 ways to feel vulnerable and scared and utterly ridiculous for even thinking of feeling that way.
After all, it's my fault. It's my fault I'm fat. It's my habits and love of food as a source of comfort that got me here. It's my lack of motivation to wash my face after wearing a mask for 8 hours a day because I am so overwhelmingly sad that I have officially started wearing sweatpants in public. It's my fault that I stopped lifting weights. It's on me for not stretching properly so I can no longer get in a car without being out of breath. It's my fault I don't dance anymore. It's my fault I ate all those pieces of cake working at the wedding venue. It's my fault I am not satisfied with 1 McChicken. It's my fault.
I'll just control what is seen. I'll edit. I'll filter. I'll angle. I'll pretend.
I'll deceive. I'll feel better.
There's only one problem with this plan - If I exist at all, people have already seen the truth.
I never thought I'd be this way
but, as I've learned, we are in desperate need of Jesus because society is really great at ruining everything for everyone all the time. How do you raise a confident kid? Up until a year or so ago, I would've said "I'll do it like my parents did", because it really seemed to work. Well, turns out, confidence is easily shattered when the world shuts down, you go unseen by society for a few months, and you don't currently have "a guy" to like. Now I question if it was ever true confidence to begin with...
Wanna know the things I am more confident about than I have ever been?
1. Heaven is the best thing ever, far better than earth, and I can't wait for Jesus to come back.
2. God is bigger than the boogie man
3. No one on this earth is capable of loving or seeing me the way I want or think I need. That kind of love and acceptance I can only find through the Lord, and I am awfully good at rejecting that beautiful acceptance.
So, does Jesus love me despite being fat? Yes, without a doubt. Does he want me to be a good steward of what I've been given? Yes, without a doubt. Have I done that with my body?
No, no doubt about it.
When I think back at the last 10 years of my life though, I never thought I'd be this way, think this way, or look this way. I honestly can say I've been in denial about my size and appearance for a long while. What I saw in the mirror was not what I ever saw in photos, nor heard about from others. I had body dysmorphia...but in reverse? I could always convince myself I didn't look all that different, or that I didn't look as fat in person as I did in photos. Now, I know how a camera works. I know how angles work. But, as far as my brain was concerned, I was the exception to the rule.
I could go down the rabbit hole of how I got to where I am. How I used to notice friends waiting for me to get in line for food first, or use me as an excuse to eat more. As long as they weren't eating as much I was, they were fine. I could talk about the times my mom would ask me how many pieces of wedding cake I'd had while working at 16 (knowing in my mind the conversation where I'd asked for her help with accountability) and watch as my coworkers and their moms listened in horror with what I perceived as looks of judgment. They'd never talk to their daughters about their weight like that. Meanwhile, as we got older, we both had eating disorders - Mine just made me fatter and less desirable, whereas theirs led to legitimate dates to the dance. I could go on and on, I'm pretty good at dwelling and getting bitter, actually. Whenever people commented on "how skinny" I looked, or when a grandfatherly figure in my life walked up to me in his old age and commented "Hello Emma, why you're getting fat." I was so confused. I just wanted to know how I was seen so I could either change it or keep it exactly the same. Now, I look back at old photos of myself and I search my mind wondering why anyone thought my weight was even an issue. I was fine then. I am morbid now.
It's been easier and easier to ask the question "Why did I get the genes that I did?" "Why couldn't I at least be tall. It'd be all evened out." "Why couldn't I have been born with an inherent love for physical activity?" "God, why'd you make this mistake?"
Oof. There it is - the gross truth of any insecurity. The realization that this insecurity, this complaining, this questioning, is a rejection of what God intentionally designed. Oh God forgive us. Forgive me!
Most of the above are photos that I hated at one point in my life.
I could tell you why for each and every one of those images. But, now, I am able to see how silly I was being. You know what's terrifying? Hearing older women in my life talk about how they wish they could still have the body they had in their 20s. How, it's the best they'd ever looked. The best they'd felt in years. I look at where I'm at, right now, in my 22nd year of life and I get nauseas. I can't help but picture the people in WALL-E, using hover chairs to get around... That's the only way I could picture myself in 10 years wishing for the body I had in my 20s. And yet, when I look at these old photos - images that were once huge sources of insecurity - I find myself wishing I had the body I had when I was 16.
And yet, I don't actually wish that. Would it make my life easier? Yes. Would I feel prettier? I don't think so. Cause, the thing is, I didn't like it then...Why would I like it now? Women lose weight all the time and then turn their entire personality into a diet just so they can maintain that goal weight. They're exactly where they'd wished they were the year prior, and yet, unsatisfied! I absolutely don't want to be that person! I'm also terrified that as soon as I lose weight, boys will talk to me with interest. You wanna talk about making something your entire personality? How about realizing you have a huge fear of rejection from men in particular? How do I find balance for my weight loss motivation? Pfft. I don't heckin' know!
I just know that I can't find my value in my appearance. I can't find my value in what other people think of me when they see me. I can't stake my identity in what I looked like at 16, just as much as I can't stake it in what I look like now. Not to mention the fact that every possible effort I make to hide the fact that I am fat, to cover my acne scars, and to remove the mustache that every 6th grade boy I ever met has noticed is completely useless. I can edit my photos, however, all the people who I go to church with just saw me on stage and know that those edits are a lie. I can catfish the internet, but the reality is still the reality. Just because I want it to be a certain way, or because I want people to see me in a specific light, doesn't mean that I can actually control whether or not that happens!
Tis a lie from the pits of hell, as my mother would say.
Now you see me.
Whether you see the difference in the photos or not - I do. I see uneven skin, a hint of a double chin, hair on my upper lip, hair that was lazily blow-dried...and I even notice things in the edited versions. Like, I am just now seeing how badly overgrown my eyebrows are. NEAT!
This is why editing your photos is useless.
No, I'm kidding. There is a purpose to it. But, I will also say - I WOULD NEVER EDIT A CLIENT NEARLY AS MUCH AS I EDIT MYSELF. We are our own worst critic, which is why I always felt uniquely broken. Because for the most part, I've always felt I was pretty great. But, that's it's own issue soooo...
I don't share all this to dump on my old friends, or to flash my trauma. I say all this to say that at this point in my life, I am the only person who knows exactly what this body looks like without anything on it. This is a special edition version - viewed by one person only! Near mint condition. (such a dumb joke)
I'm the only one who has to care for it. I'm the only one who is affected by the horrible feeling of being out of breath because I had to tie my shoes while wearing jeans. I'm the only one who has to deal with my embarrassment over showing my body in a swimsuit. I'm only one person, with one body, living her life. However, the hope is that someday I won't be the only one who knows all of what I look like. Even more, hopefully they actually like what they see! Hopefully, this body will carry babies, feed them, and hold them close when they cry. Hopefully, this body lasts as long as it needs to. Whether it's the return of Jesus, or dying itself - This is the only body I get. Not only is this version special edition, I am limited edition. Which means when I am selfish, or irresponsible, or neglectful with this unique and limited gift, I make it way more difficult on those who will depend on it in the future.
For now, it's just me. But, if I don't start caring for it like it's a precious belonging borrowed from someone I care about, it won't be what is needed in the future.
Why not take the opportunity, when no one else depends on this version, to make the future version better for someone else? And you know what else? If I end up 90, unmarried, and childless, you bet your butt I'm still gonna treat this body better for someone else. For family, for future nieces and nephews, for wedding clients who like to climb trees, for friends who wanna go to the gym and show off how strong they are, for youth kids whose own future weddings and baby showers I want to attend, for whoever God gives me - I want to be available and well. Sure, I'd love to feel beautiful, I'd love the compliments, and I'd probably have far less lower back pain, but my motivation has gotta be other people or I'll lose the ability to care in 2 months flat.
Trust me. I went down that road. It was called Optavia. Gained it all back and MORE for the low low price of $600 a box.
I hope you don't read this and think less of me, but as I'm growing up, I am realizing more and more how much of what others see and think is so far out of my control that trying to do anything about it would only result in madness. who'd a thunk it?
If you see yourself the way I see myself, I'm so sorry. I hope you know and trust how intentional your design is. How beloved, how fearfully, how wonderfully made you are. You have value because He said so.
I'm still working on believing it myself, though. So, don't feel bad if it take a minute to settle in.
Until next time friends,