This is a very sensitive topic, that only a few know, and I might not even want the rest to know. But nonetheless, I think is good to write about it because maybe, one day my kids can relate.
Ever since I was a little girl, to be exact when I was eight-years-old I grew up thinking I was UGLY. That I was the ugliest little girl in the world, and that perception did not change until I entered my 20’s. Now that I meditate on the topic, everything started when a woman 35 years older than me insulted me. I remember I was playing with my favorite cousin Cristy. We were at her house playing with my cousins’ cousin in the patio, when this woman (Sofia) comes into the picture (Sofia happens to be my cousins’ cousin grandma). She alleged that I had called her beloved granddaughter ugly, and as an inoffensive 8-year-old girl I just said that I hadn’t called anyone anything. Out of rage, and raising her hands to point at me, wearing this long camisole, she yelled at me:
“My granddaughter is not ugly, you are the ugly one, go and look
at yourself in front of a mirror, so you can see how ugly you are.”
I looked at my cousin Cristy, and left her house crying… We lived one block away from each other, and I remember I ran home with a mournful cry. My long curly, and blond hair was moving left and right as I ran that block, for me and my small perception of the world, that short distance seemed like miles and miles left in a marathon, where the finish line was my mother’s arms. I got home and told my beautiful mother about the incident, and she told me those words were not true.
…Those words hurt me, and haunted me for years.
When I went into Junior High, that insecurity appeared to a different level. I criticized every inch of my body in silence. My teeth needed orthodontic work, my hair was puffy, messy, I was skinny, had a little hunch back, had no style, wore my hair with two braids for years, and let’s not forget that acne that haunts every teenager. Almost all my friends had boys that wanted to “date” them. I am talking about the kind of dating were the guy buys your lunch, a candy, and if he dares he might hold your hand, if he was brave he would steal a kiss. That was cute back in the day. In my world, I was a very bad looking nerd, and no one would look at me that way, ever. All teenagers struggle in this area at some point in life, my mom tried to pay attention to those things by buying me expensive acne treatments. But Sofia’s words, never left me.
Beauty runs in my mom’s side of the family. Susan, as I call my gorgeous mother, is a gem. She should have been in beauty pageants, but besides her physical attributes, she has a personality that inspires. My aunts are beautiful, perfect skin, perfect teeth, perfect smile. My cousins are full of grace as well. I always compared my physical appearance to theirs. My sister inherited my mom’s beauty, and one of my aunts made sure to make that clear every time she would visit us.
She would say : “ Hi Andita, you are so pretty!
Oh, hi Celia “
Sofia’s voice will come to me every time I heard that.
What really messed up things in my teen years, was having my dad cheating on my mom. I mean, who would cheat on this gorgeous woman? My dad dared to betray my mother, including my little sister, and me. I remember seeing him kissing another woman, while I was at the dentist office (another trauma for another blog.) My dad not only cheated once, but several times throughout the marriage.
The fact that my dad decided to go after other women instead of his own, made me feel unworthy… How come the first man I gave my heart to would do that to us? I was 16 at the time, trying to find myself, figuring this world, the change… The new life …
But by feeling UGLY all this time I developed an ability, the one that finds beauty everywhere… I try to find the bright side of a storm, and that helped me face the challenges of my late teenager days.
In my twenties, I met the most beautiful boy ever, on our first date he wore a blue beanie, his name is Leo, he is 12, and he has half of my DNA. By raising him I discovered the beauty in me, giving birth to him, helped me close those open wounds that created insecurities in my life. I am not saying that I recommend having kids to deal with uncertainties, it is just the way it happened in my life.
Sofia’s voice followed me, and it became a mental attitude I adopted in childhood; I was never ugly, but grew up thinking I was. It did not affect my development, but affected my self-esteem for most of my life. It started with a comment, then events that imprinted me. I got out of the shadow and embraced my flaws.
I am aware others have other disturbances bigger or smaller than mine, but at the end, those turbulences shape us, and help us develop aptitudes to face the world.
I saw Sofia three weeks ago, she was very happy to see me, she never knew what her words caused.
When I looked at her, I was tempted to tell her, but instead I closed that chapter right there in that street in Durango, where I grew up.
Every human should grow up knowing that he/she is beautiful, worth it, valuable, important and loved among many other attributes. It is up to us women and men to raise and promote environments that create strong and caring humans. I learn day by day ways to love myself, ways to find me unique, it has helped me to silence Sofia’s voice for years now.
Embrace yourself, embrace every woman, every human.
Until next week,