I’m standing in line at the grocery store being assaulted by the loud personal conversation the guy in front of me is having on his cell phone. He’s been talking since I walked up and put my items on the conveyor belt. I’m trying to focus on checking email on my phone when in response to a question on the other end he replies, “Well, you wouldn’t turn your head to look at her but she’s nice.”
I can no longer concentrate on what I’m doing at that point. I’m overwhelmed by the idea that some woman I don’t know has no idea that some guy has told not only this “friend” but me, the cashier and anyone in earshot that she’s no head turner. I felt terrible for her. I felt terrible in general, mostly because I’m not exactly a “head turner” myself. I may be for a select few but not in the eyes of the mainstream and probably not in the eyes of this douchebag publicly criticizing some woman who I probably would think is much prettier than me if I met her. Thanks cellphone douchebag, I simultaneously hate you and hate myself.
I wrote a post recently about insecurity so you may already know that part of my anxiety issue is the fear of rejection. Basically, I worry that other people aren’t going to like me or find me attractive. Irrational, yes, but something I find nearly impossible to overcome. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who rock their look and feels sexy at any size. Unfortunately, I haven’t really been able to do that. I have brief moments when I feel good about how I look so I’ve decided to take a good hard look at why I feel this way. It has much to do with the way I perceive other people see me, combined with the filter in which I see myself. For example, I can feel great walking around in an outfit I like then catch a glimpse in the mirror and instantly hate what I see. Like a hall of funhouse mirrors, the true vision I have of myself changes depending on the angle in which I view it.
We all see things differently. We peruse and form an opinion based on the mental array that forms our opinions and tastes. The color blue is not the same shade of blue to everyone. What is beautiful to one is ugly to another, with various shades of opinion in between. So the way we look at ourselves is different than how others look at us. This is something I’ve become acutely aware of lately. Days where I feel I look like an awful mess, my husband thinks I still look sexy. Nights I leave the house thinking I look terrible, I will find a few people who sincerely compliment me. It turns out the most critical eye in the room is my own. Something I’m sure many people can identify with. I look in the mirror and see every flaw amplified. I see every scar, every dimple, every misplaced hair, every…. everything.
Becoming non-monogamous and being kinky again has helped me get through my body image issues but not entirely past them. Mostly because when you’re open, you’re more open to compliments but also more open to the possibility of rejection. I know I should be able to love myself and be self-accepting, but I don’t seem to be able to fill my self-esteem bucket on my own. Looking at myself in the mirror and thinking I look great at the moment puts a drop in that bucket. Having someone I know and love compliment me, puts about a cupful in the bucket. Having someone who I just met compliment me can nearly fill it to the brim. It probably sounds shallow and vain to have an unsolicited compliment from someone make me feel so good but it does. In a culture that worries about compliments seeming creepy, obtrusive or sexist, we don’t get many compliments as everyday average adults. I rarely get unsolicited compliments in the vanilla world, especially since I’ve been married. I’m a married mother of two, usually invisible to the vanilla eye. Since I’m also not just on the way to Cougartown, my train is already in the station with the conductor trying to pry my hands off the rail so I get off the damned train, I’m even more invisible.
Add on top of that having been fat shamed most of my life. Not only by mean girls and rude guys growing up but my own mother, which means my self-esteem bucket is not only empty but there’s a hole in it. My mom was always slim but my sibs and I never seemed to be thin like her. Every single one of us struggled with weight our whole lives. Which was pointed out by mom every chance she got thinking if we were embarrassed by our weight we would do something about it. But it’s not that easy when you feel terrible about yourself. Like Fat Bastard says in Austin Powers, “I eat because I’m unhappy, I’m unhappy because I eat. It’s vicious cycle.” Yeah, mom. So when I come home to visit and I’ve gain weight because grad school is mega stressful, the last I need when I get off the plane is “You’re so fat!” in front of everyone. That’s the person I see when I look in the mirror. Not a sexy MILF, not a sexy anything, certain not someone anyone would LF.
Thankfully I’ve been feeling better about myself lately because I have others that see me, compliment me and appreciate me; more than I appreciate myself. I had just my husband for that for the longest time and after a while it wasn’t working. He sees me through a different filter. In the past 18 months I’ve found that open and kinky people, even just sex positive people, are openly complimentary. This community finds sexy at any size, any shape, any gender, any…. anything. I’ve found that there are more people than just my husband that find me attractive, even sexy, and they’re not afraid to say it. I wish everyone could be this openly appreciative. I’m still no head turner in the grocery store, or even at a vanilla party, no matter how dressed up I am. My sex positive/open/kinky friends and playmates seem to like what they see. I’m going to try and see myself the way they see me.
When it comes to attractiveness: Do you see what I see? No, you don’t. You probably see me much more favorably than I do myself. I need to remember that when I balk at sending a photo, fret about the outfit I’m wearing, worry I won’t look sexy in lingerie or stress out at the idea of anyone seeing me naked. Especially need to remember on those really tough days when I can’t imagine why anyone would like me much less want to be with me. I can’t please everyone but, from what I’ve heard, I do please a few. And that fills my bucket plenty.