"Long nose", "small breasts", "thick legs" - these labels usually appear in childhood and do not have any basis, except for the subjective and incorrect assessment of others. If you do not step back from hurtful definitions in time, they can cause serious problems with self-esteem in adulthood. We talked with different people about what they wanted to change in themselves and what helped them to like themselves.
Interview: Irina Kuzmicheva
“Sexy but simple. Just like you,”one prominent art worker said recently, pointing an expert finger in my face. He talked about an artist, a prominent handsome man who could sleep with beauties to match him. And for some reason he sleeps with his wife - sexy, but simple. Like me. A few years ago, I would have burst into tears in the toilet after this. After all, I've always been just that - simple, nothing special. You will see, turn away and immediately forget, you cannot distinguish from thousands of similar ones.
"Why are you so thin and your face is so big?" - this question knocked me down more than once. To chubby cheeks I got a wide nose, a small mouth hardly wider than this nose, eyes with sad eyebrows - such a child would be called a "little angel", but I was no longer a child. They continued to compare me with a girl with a chocolate bar "Alyonka" at fourteen, eighteen, twenty. In the theater, while others were playing intriguing aristocrats, I got the role of "bastards with curls." And for a long time I tried to find something noble in my simple face. When the "Hero of Our Time" began to pass at school, she wrote out a quote about Pechorin: "Despite the light color of his hair, his mustache and eyebrows were black - a sign of the breed in a person." And I was terribly happy that my eyebrows were darker than my hair.
No matter how I changed, no matter what comments others made about my appearance, it was my own banality that remained my main complex. Simplicity. I really wanted to become a truly beautiful woman for at least a couple of hours. Learn what it is like to be beautiful. Or what it means to grow with the knowledge that you are. I thought about beauty a lot, too much. These thoughts were always in the background.
Then I got tired of them and tried to figure it out by drawing a comic strip "How to be ugly." It was the story of my relationship with my own appearance, but through it I tried to convey the idea on a larger scale: that each of us is more than just an option in the opposition “beautiful / ugly”. That we are personal pronouns, not quality adjectives. On the Internet, everything, as always, was misunderstood. Streams of letters poured on me: someone said that I was stupid, since I considered myself ugly - I’m a beauty! Someone - that I am really ugly and there is no need for such people to live. Someone - that I am Tyrion Lannister, whatever that means. But on the VKontakte network they supported me. And, most importantly, I managed to support others: the girls wrote thanks in a personal note, saying that it helped them to look at things differently. This situation helped me too. First, understand that my throwing is really not unique. Secondly, to realize once again how subjective other people's assessments are: the path from young Angelina Jolie to Tyrion Lannister can be walked in just a day, without even changing makeup.
But finally, self-portraits helped me to make peace with myself. I decided that my face would become my canvas. I will become my model. Because no one closer, always available and ready to pose for me, has never been and never will be in my life. I started to paint myself in all possible forms and angles. Beautiful and ugly, joyful and sad, alive and dead. And somehow, gradually, drawing my face over and over again, I realized that the combination of these cheeks, this upper lip with a fold, these frowning eyes with eternal circles around is not at all trivial.And not boring. It's special and I like it. It is me. And I suddenly like myself too. And only I have power over myself, my image. Nobody's words will definitely change him.
I lived first as a chubby child, then as a fat teenager, and entered the youthful dawn with a weight of a steward. It seemed to me that I would never have any personal life. It is not true. If desired, personal life can be richer than that of a girl with a conventional appearance. You just need to be prepared that the guy may be surprised, and even out loud: "Well, I would never have thought that I would date a fat girl, but you are so cool." Instead of answering: "This is you, my friend, some kind of not very cool, and would you not go to a known address?" - I found a strategy. She looks like this: I am fat, but so cool that you will forget that I am fat. Everyone really does forget. But I remembered every minute. For example, that you need to wear black and that which will slim, you cannot be bright, you do not need to attract attention to yourself. And dysmorphia also begins - this is when you always seem to yourself three times more than you really are.
It is very difficult to live with it. Moreover, in my family, the attitude "appearance is not the main thing, thinking about appearance is a shame even for fools, the main thing is brains and soul." This, on the one hand, supports, and on the other hand, it pushes even deeper into the abyss of reflection, because thinking about your weight seems to be impossible and unworthy, but you actually think all the time. At some point, I got tired of this and the feeling of guilt.
I went to a psychotherapist for another reason, and for the first two years of work I did not talk about appearance at all. I regularly discussed with a specialist why I hate myself, but bypassed the topic of why. This is weight, well, how can you hate yourself for weight, this is not the reason, there should be some more serious one. At the same time, I realized that I was sculpting the image of "how the life of a woman of my way of thinking should be arranged." The most important thing in psychotherapy was to understand that it shouldn't. Any acceptance begins with allowing yourself freedom. Freedom interferes with self-loathing, stupid stereotypes, and a long-term habit of self-restraint.
And I began to dress the way I want. The earth did not collapse from the change of the usual black-narrow to bright. They didn’t pay any more attention to me - however, they didn’t pay any less attention. Then I started beating tattoos. Before that, I really wanted to, but there was an internal setting: "Tattoos should be beaten on a beautiful body, but not on an ugly one." Who is not allowed? Why not? Who even spoke with that voice in my head? Because, in general, everything is possible. Standing in the shower and looking at the tattoo on the ribs (on the ribs hidden under the fat, yes, yes), I was surprised to realize that I liked myself. Tattoos have reconciled me to the body, and any contact with his gaze, which could have ruined the mood for half a day before, is now comfortable.
At school, I was not the girl they say “beautiful”: red hair, crooked teeth, then braces, in adolescence - no breast and a height of one hundred and eighty centimeters. My classmates periodically came up with mocking jokes about me. I let them go deaf ears or laughed with them. They did not cause serious psychological damage to me, on the contrary, they made me believe in my own uniqueness.
When I turned fourteen, scouts started inviting me to model schools and agencies. Modeling was not my dream, but closer to the age of eighteen, proposals were received with increasing regularity, and I began to work with the main agency of St. Petersburg at that time. Without much zeal, but with an interest in new experiences.
My story of self-rejection began at one of the castings. During the viewing, the art director of the agency threw the phrase in my direction: "You need to lose weight to show your cheekbones." I was always slim, even slightly thin, but by the model standards of the late 2000s, I was still overweight.This phrase is like a splinter in my mind, in the fall I went on a diet for the sake of the manifestation of the notorious cheekbones. My daily diet consisted of an egg, a piece of chocolate and a small portion of vegetables - only five hundred kilocalories. I hated myself for what I had eaten. The portions got smaller, my periods disappeared, I lost eight kilograms, and by the spring my weight had stopped at forty-eight. My parents started sounding the alarm, they suspected I had anorexia, but they did not take me to the doctor, but only said that I was very thin and “put this crap out of your head”. At that time, I stopped communicating with a modeling agency, having made a choice in favor of studying.
Studying abroad saved me from fanatical weight loss. At the beginning of my third year, I left for America. The new environment distracted my thoughts, and it was more difficult to count calories in the campus cafeteria. I began to slowly gain weight, but I still limited myself in many ways, reproached me for eating ice cream or milk added to coffee. In parallel, I went to the gym every day to burn what I typed.
It took me another five years to return to a normal relationship with food and my own body. Only by the age of twenty-three did I stop standing in front of the mirror, looking at my waist in profile, stopped thinking about inappropriate food and tirelessly engage in cardiovascular equipment. I just got tired of the hobby for losing weight: it's like doing the same thing for several years - at one point you just burn out. And I gave it up. A young man helped me to consolidate a normal attitude to my body, who, as an outside observer, gave a flattering assessment of my figure. I also learned to listen to my body. Sometimes he only asks for grapefruit for breakfast, and sometimes for scrambled eggs and croutons and a ton of bacon. He really likes both.
All my life I have heard from unfamiliar people that I am beautiful. And I didn’t believe it. My relatives, mainly my mother, told me exactly the opposite. Because of this, for a long time I believed that I had terrible hair that could not be styled, it was thin, it was not enough. So I wore creepy short haircuts. Once I told a hairdresser about this, and she managed to prove to me that these problems exist only in my head. After that, I radically changed my attitude towards hair, grew it out several times and found the perfect color.
I also considered myself clumsy, inflexible, and illiterate. My mother was engaged in ballroom dancing and claimed that I was wooden from birth and unsuitable for this, but she certainly had a talent. For this reason, it is difficult for me to dance, despite the fact that I have always wanted to do it. Only at the age of thirty I found out that flexibility develops, for dancing it is enough to relax and surrender to the music, and in the world there are people much less agile than me.
And I always hated my legs: too full thighs, thick knees, pale skin, a lot of hair. These beliefs were actively nurtured by the mother. She suggested to me that my figure was not very successful and that I had to “hide my flaws”. In the mirror, the first thing I did was look at my hips and butt, constantly covering this area with my hands, picking up clothes that would compensate for the difference between the top and bottom. When I was in the gym, I only looked at my legs, as if there was only one part of my body.
Last year I turned to a psychotherapist. In one of the sessions, I said that I hate my legs, and especially my hips, so when my husband asks me to wear something that emphasizes them, I take it as an attack. At the same time, I had a conversation with my mother, in which she praised my new dress (I posted a photo on Facebook): they say, it perfectly hides all problem areas and it is not at all clear that I have no breast. She also added that in the previous photo I look "like in a condom." When I stopped crying, I blocked her and no longer discuss my appearance with her. In real life, we do not meet, since we live in different cities.
After a few sessions, I was finally able to look at myself differently. I remember the moment when I looked at old photographs and realized that I was very beautiful. And the hips are normal, and the hair, and the dress. I began to treat myself differently and believe people when they say something good about me.
My complex about short stature is far-fetched, initiated by me and not caused by any external factors. It began in high school, when everyone suddenly grew up, but I didn't: my height is one hundred and fifty-four centimeters. At university, I hated the humiliating annual checkups when all my classmates knew my height, and worse, the weight, which I also had problems with. There wasn’t even a day when I didn’t think about my “non-model” growth. Now I understand that there is nothing wrong with that, but then it seemed to me that absolutely all the failures in life are connected with him. Accordingly, tall people for me were synonymous with successful people. At the same time, tall men have always looked after me, and no one has ever discriminated against me about this. Although often people think that calling me "Thumbelina" or "baby", they are giving me a compliment. And I still hate such “compliments”, I immediately remember my “lack” and start to feel sad.
During my school years, I was the tallest. By the tenth grade, she had grown to one hundred and eighty centimeters, was half a head taller than her classmates, both boys and girls. Someone even teased him with a “sleeper” and a “giraffe”. This did not offend me, but it also did not add love to my height: I began to slouch to seem shorter. There were few tall guys my age, and the rest did not want to date girls who were taller than them. So my complex was aggravated. It became calmer at the university, but I still remained the tallest in the group, the girls of my height on the course could be counted on the fingers of one hand. I did not wear shoes with heels and was sure that I could only date young people taller than me, although I also liked those below. This caused unnecessary love suffering. Until I met a man ten centimeters shorter than me. He loved my height so much and was so proud of him that my complex was gone. He liked it when I wore high heels, with him I felt absolutely comfortable. We are not together, but now there is no problem for me to be with someone who is shorter than me. And now I also often wear high-heeled shoes.
I was always very thin, weighed less than sixty kilograms - and with a height of one hundred and eighty centimeters, this was especially striking. It would seem nothing special, but our society is quite conservative in terms of the definition of masculinity. In addition, I was not interested in sports, so I did not have the powerful arms or wide back, which are so often associated with the image of an attractive man. More than once I have heard from girls that I do not look "like a man." It was especially annoying that they didn’t even reject my identity, but my gender. This is as absurd as to say that girls with small breasts are not like women. In addition, their words fell on the ground prepared by their parents. When I was still a teenager, I was buying clothes with my mother, she did not miss the opportunity to sigh heavily: "Oh, how thin you are."
I was ashamed of my body. In winter I felt more comfortable: when there are more clothes, it is easier to seem voluminous. It got to the point that one very hot summer I wore long sleeve shirts. I realized that I needed to change. I signed up for a gym, began to exercise regularly on simulators. My muscles began to grow, and with them my self-confidence. It's not just that I've become a little more conventionally handsome. As I worked on my appearance, I began to understand it better, and along with this understanding came acceptance.I stopped being ashamed of my body so much that I recently spent part of my vacation in an eco-village on the seashore, where I was absolutely naked among people, not a bit ashamed of my body.
I have never had any serious self-esteem problems. And there are no problems with male attention. But for ten years I have been at war with myself. The fact is that everything is not so with me: fingers are crooked, lips are thin, knees are bony. And the chest of the third size with a waist volume of fifty-eight centimeters adds a touch of vulgarity, no matter what I wear. It is only beautiful in the pictures, but living with it is terribly inconvenient. Whatever I did, it didn't fit: the braces did not help to align the teeth, the hair color was associated with excrement. I dyed my hair, wore dark lenses, if only this blue color did not irritate me, I thought - now this highlighter will make Megan Markle out of me. Gym, carbohydrate-free diet, solarium, different sizes and shapes of nails.
At some point, I was tired. I'm tired of comparing, coming up with new ideals, masking, choosing which lips I will make for myself, walking with uncomfortable nails, spending a lot of money on all these attributes of beauty. But the main thing is that I am tired of realizing every time that I don’t like myself in my new image either. Now, when I think: “What a beautiful girl, I wish I could be like that,” I remember how much strength it takes to chase this image, and in the end to understand that I have no options but to be myself. I don’t think it’s self-love, but something like self-acceptance. Every time that sadness appears in my soul that I am not Kim Kardashian, I remember how much nagging awaits me, how much money will be spent on adjusting to a new trend, and I think: “To hell. I'm tired. I will be myself."
I was a terribly complex teenager. I was afraid to open my mouth once again in the presence of my peers, if only they would not look at me. In my second year, I jumped out to get married. Now I know that this is due to lack of self-confidence: thanks that at least someone "took" me such a curved-oblique. In marriage, it became a little easier, but still, to freedom from complexes, I felt like the moon.
And after the divorce, my self-esteem was completely destroyed. Four years ago, I seriously considered myself unworthy of anything and anyone, and as terrible as a mortal sin. Unfortunately, I myself could not think of how cool I really am. For this I needed a man who fell in love with me. He said so often that I was the most beautiful and sexiest woman in the world that I began to believe in it. We had to part, but after this parting my self-esteem not only did not go down, but also skyrocketed. And at some point, I realized what I had known all my life, but I didn't believe in it to the end: it doesn't matter how you look, how many acne and "extra" pounds you have, if you are a confident, kind and sympathetic person. A perfect figure won't save a bitch. Yes, I strive for clean skin, a good figure, well-groomed hair, but at first I fell in love with myself for who I am, with all the shortcomings. If you hate yourself and try to change something, nothing good will come of it.
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Since childhood, I was accompanied by the epithet "large", and I still cannot stop associating myself with it. If my grandmother and I met her friends on the street, she, as if apologizing, explained that I was tall in my parents. I thought for a long time that they were gullivers. And when I grew up, it turned out that they were both one hundred and seventy centimeters tall, like me.
The weight is even worse. Relatives, acquaintances, a clothing seller, a masseuse and a hairdresser groaned, complained and recommended urgently to lose weight, as if I was on the verge of obesity. It never came close, just at school for some time I was taller and heavier than some. Then we all became equal in height, but I always felt bigger. It's funny that none of my commentators were athletes or healthy lifestyles. I guess I was lucky that their comments did not lead me to an eating disorder.Although on vacation after the first grade, I saw enough of how my aunt expels cellulite with folk remedies, and also began to freeze a bottle of water for herself, so that later she could massage it.
I always had many friends, an active social life, I was never hounded by my classmates. As a teenager, a gentleman with whom we met twice, said that I needed to lose weight. The rest of my relationship experience never made me question myself physically. Guys, thanks! I recently went on a date to the pool. I feel a kind of actionism in this: yes, I have a big and not ideal priest, but Apollo is nearby.
My figure is far from the images of Instagram models, I am embarrassed about some of its features, but I cannot be angry with my body. It is proportionally folded, and I ate all the "extra" kilograms on my own. When my weight becomes more comfortable and bothers me, then I cut back on late dinner. And I no longer discuss this topic with my relatives. I will not say that I fully accepted myself. It's more of a compromise. But now I can formulate why it does not bother me. I see a lot of girls with beautiful bodies. But I have a great sense of humor, coquetry twenty-four by seven, I am adequate - well, a dream.
Throughout my life, I was tormented by various complexes. I especially suffered from excessive thinness: forty-three kilograms with a height of one hundred and sixty centimeters. Jennifer Lopez was my idol, and the boys called me "board-two-nipple". It terribly depressed me, it was at that moment that I began to compare myself with others. This was compounded by the fact that the important men for me chose women opposite to my type. It seemed to me that men did not like me, although now I understand that I just wanted to please everyone.
By the age of twenty, I gained weight, so much so that later I had to lose weight. I had a very defiant image that attracted men, and it made me happy. But then suddenly there were problems with the skin, and as a result - post-acne. It killed my self-esteem and affected many areas, including my personal life.
But one day I realized that I was living in hell, and drove myself there. I was very tired of this state, and then I realized that it was not the appearance, but the head. With the help of a psychologist, over the past six months I have reconsidered my relationship with myself. I made a lot of complaints against myself, not realizing that I was an ordinary person with a set of physical characteristics. It is important to work with what you have, and not to mold yourself into what you are not. Age-related changes are on the way, I try to accept them. I can look good at my age, and not pretend to be a young beauty. And that's great.
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