Over the past years I've had an amazing battle with my weight, my self esteem and my body image. I've always felt as though I was extremely unattractive. In the photo below I was going to my junior high school prom at Spring Creek Secondary School in Seven Springs NC. I was horrified at the thought of attending a school with all the pretty girls. All the rich kids from Walnut Creek and their fancy clothes and cars. Here I was only able to go because an aunt had an old dress that I could wear.
|Photo Credit - Renee Olson - Age 14|
I’m an emotional eater. When I get sad I want to eat. This probably evolved from two issues.
Issue one – NO FOOD
As a young child my family was on public assistance. After moving away from my Grandmother’s home and in with my mother and stepfather; my mother began getting monthly payments and food stamps due to the fact that my biological father was incarcerated. Just as today, she was never much of a planner so we’d eat well the first few nights and then have nothing for the rest of the month. I was known to go to a neighbor’s house and steal food from their freezer. I’ve also shoplifted food from the grocery store while in middle school. I’ve even stolen food stamps from my mother’s purse and used them to buy food which I was sit in a corn field and eat on the way home. So my body/mind was programmed that when there was food available. EAT IT!
Issue two – Emotional abuse
My mother and stepfather were emotionally and verbally abusive. My stepfather was physically and sexually abusive. I was molested from age 5 until I ran away from home at 15. I found comfort in food. It never yelled at me. It was always warm, inviting and I was in control. Or at least so I thought. My emotional eating has taken me on a road from 110lbs up to 305lbs, back down to 150 and now back up to over 200.
|Photo Credit - Renee Olson|
I look in the mirror and hear:
“Who would want you?”
“What a failure, you've gained it all back”
“See I told you, you’d fail”
If I heard someone saying those things to another person, I’d be LIVID. I would never say anything like that to another person, yet these are the words that I hear when I look in the mirror.
Coming from me.
From my head.
From my voice.
|Photo Credit - Renee Olson - 2012|
As I sit working with my clay ads come on the TV and I get to hear just how unattractive I am. If I’m not tall enough or blonde enough or of course “Thin enough” then I just need to use their product to get there. In 2012 an article in the NY Times showed that most of these ads just make women feel ugly.
A few years ago I shared a video series on women in the media called “Killing Us Softly” by Jean Kilbourne. This is a study of how the image of women has changed in the media over the last 30 years.
Had I known about this video I would have sat down and shown it to my young daughter. I would have made sure that she knew that this was an unreal expectation and that we as woman are made up of different shapes and sizes. We are not all cookie cutters. We are individual and just because you’re not a size 10 it doesn't mean you’re worthless.
I would show this to the little me. The one inside that still hears the horrible voices and picks up the bat to beat the daylights out of myself. Maybe one day I will be able to silence the voices. One day they will not have the power that I give them. I’d love to look in the mirror and hear, hello gorgeous, how are you today.
Get angry and take some time to contact those advertisers you see or hear and tell them that we will not allow our young girls to be made to feel as though they are worthless. This is really something we should be up in arms over.
That’s it… that’s my tirade.
If you have a daughter, hug her and tell her she’s beautiful.
Namaste & Blessed Be
You can find more information on Killing Us Softly and Jean Kilbourne at the following sites: