The majority of my twenties was spent looking at pictures of my teenage self and melodramatically weeping over the fact that I never took pictures of my 18 year old boobs that I could longingly admire in my late twenties, recalling their perkiness. I had plenty of other pictures to feel sad over. Pictures of beautifully tan skin, an un-dimpled ass, long thick hair, and a waist that was miraculously smaller than my hips.
But I always forget that teenage Jia was filled with self pity and hatred. She picked at her skin in the mirror obsessively, weighed herself compulsively, and cried herself to sleep over the fact that her friends were all skinnier than she was. Aside from that, teenage Jia hid herself away behind others who stood out more.
Most of my friends that I've remained in touch with recall me as this wild, outgoing girl with brightly colored hair and a personality to match. A confidence that I borrowed from my friends who were wilder, more outgoing and more brightly colored than I was. I stood in their shadows because the warmth of their light came without the fear of standing out on my own.
I faked it trying to make it, but I still went home feeling sorry for myself.
|"Confidence... We Got This" An amazing project by Brittany Herself that I am beyond proud to have participated in!|
Confidence can still be struggle some days, but now I have tools to work through it.
When I started being my authentic self online I discovered that I wasn't alone. I began taking risks. Wearing red lipstick and dressing to show instead of to hide. And then one day several years ago, I dyed my hair pink. Pink isn't something you can hide. Confidence or not, you walk out of the house with pink hair, you are forcing the world to draw their eyes to you. And I lucked out. Because my beautiful community here in New Mexico is filled with artists, bright individuals with souls that are yearning for equally bright hair - and many do! Pink became my confidence, and soon I was taking more and more challenges to face my fears of self doubt. Bare arms, short hair, and bikinis!
"I wish I could have your confidence."
My sister said that to me a few weeks ago. We were headed to the pool and I was wearing the same tankini that I've had for way too many years. Cleavage spilling out of my top and my belly exposed, I strutted toward the pool beside my little sister who weighs almost 100 pounds less than me.
"Do I look like shit?" I asked her.
"What?! No, of course not!" She replied.
"Then why should I feel like shit?" Was my answer.
It's something that's taken me WAY too long to learn - and I still have to remind myself every single day. Sometimes I have her remind me. Sometimes it's my best friend, or my husband. Sometimes it's hundreds of like-minded women in the beautiful tribe of curvacious kindred spirits that I've found online.
I want to tell teenage Jia that she won't always have to force that smile when she looks in the mirror. One day she'll catch herself by surprise.