Leisha | Trophy Club, TX
Images by Ginger Diaz
"This project, for me, was the voice that sparked the idea that perhaps I can have an attitude shift about my body; something that never even crossed my mind before..."
"All of my life I've struggled with being proud of my body. Looking back it hasn't mattered whether I looked good (by society's standards) or bad, I've always been embarrassed at what I saw when I looked in the mirror: always chunky cheeks, sometimes I was thin enough for my ribs to show, often large enough to have extra belly fat, cellulite, scars on my calf and nose, big blood vessels on my old looking hands, acne, freckles, short legs, small eyes, age spots... I have an over achieving ability to remind myself, repeatedly, about my physical flaws. All of the constant negative self talk has led to an ugly lack of confidence in myself physically that I have carried around since elementary school.
As an adult I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out where this self hate and lack of confidence stems from. Like many others I dissected my relationships with my parents, bad experiences from childhood, old relationships with boyfriends and all the normal things (good and bad) that shape us as we grow. And while, also like many others, I can assign blame to many of the aforementioned people and experiences none of them seem be significant enough to warrant the way I so harshly judge myself. At least that's what my pride tells me, "there is NO way those people and events were able to have such a negatively profound impact on my life." But when I allow a more vulnerable (aka reasonable) inner voice to speak up it says just the opposite. These events did, each in their own way, slowly chip away at the large amount of self love and confidence that this little girl (who used to be referred to as Suzy Sunshine) had as a child. I'm guessing that a small amount of that is fairly normal as you enter the awkward teenage years but I feel mine has gone beyond that and often impacts relationships in a negative way.
I can remember never feeling comfortable in vulnerable or intimate situations. I often look back at old pictures and find myself saying, "I would kill to look like that now" while being ashamed at remembering how ugly I felt at the time the picture was taken. I feel like I will never be happy with my appearance because as I can judge from past photos apparently I have never been 'good enough' in my own eyes. This makes me incredibly sad. The worst part is that I know that I am not ugly so it must be a self hatred of something much deeper and it terrifies me to even think about figuring that next part out.
Confidence is one of the most important ingredients to success. When you carry yourself with confidence others will have that same confidence in you. When confidence is truly living inside of you it radiates out as beauty from an outsiders viewpoint. That doesn't only mean physical beauty. I think physical beauty can become a secondary thought behind a person's true confidence. While I feel I have confidence in a few areas of my life, I would like to expand that into many areas of my life and I would like for it to be honest and genuine as opposed to the whole "fake it until you make it" kind. I can only imagine that having true confidence leads to a very calm existence. My assumption is that you become secure enough in yourself and your actions that you rarely feel a need to 'be better', 'work harder', 'look sexier', 'be more like her/him'. That's what I truly want for myself: a confidence that leads to an inner calmness. I want to be more confident in how I look, with the shape of my body, with the way my body ages, with the way that I approach my career, with my level of intelligence, with my past, with my relationships, with my sexuality, with my ability to parent, with judging what and who truly deserves to be in my life. I can not imagine a more wonderful feeling and THAT'S my goal! GO TEAM CONFIDENCE!!!!!
As I get older and more reflective I have been learning how much a simple attitude shift can affect your life in all ways. I have realized that I can change my attitude about my job and become a lot happier and more successful at it. I have discovered that I can have attitude shifts on how to handle things that are out of my control and instantly have less anxiety. It's funny actually at how easy a simple attitude shift can be when you are ready for it and have a voice of reason (therapist, friend, multiple personalities, etc.) to help you with that shift.
This project, for me, was the voice that sparked the idea that perhaps I can have an attitude shift about my body; something that never even crossed my mind before as I assumed those negative thoughts were typical. While discussing the workbook with my best friend I started to contemplate the idea of viewing my body as if it were my best friend. And why not? After all we just answered several questions about all of the wonderful experiences that our bodies have carried us through. And in talking about it that way it sounds very much like what a mom, sister, best friend, or any loved one does for me daily. So why not treat my body the way that I would treat one of those people in my life? It really makes me want to love it and take better care of it the way it does to me. I think that by separating my body from myself it will allow me to love it more while I work on learning to love myself more in other areas. At some point down the road I would love to view my body as part of me again and love the entire package. But we will start with baby steps and I am very happy and grateful for this new attitude shift and grateful to be part of such a neat project."
Images of Leisha by Ginger Diaz.