In Which I Refuse to feel Apologetic about Being Me, and You Shouldn’t Either

When I was twenty-one, I decided that I was tired of having low self-esteem.  I decided that I was not going to have it any more.

I started looking at the beautiful clothing in fashion magazines rather than the unobtainable figures.  I stopped counting calories and started to make note of all of the things that my body could do.  I made a conscious effort to recognise negative thought patterns and replace them with something positive about myself.

It worked.  I began to feel tiny benefits almost immediately.  It didn’t take long for me to feel quite a bit better about myself.

In fact, it may have worked a little too well.

There are a lot of things that I like about me.  There’s the physical: what-colour-are-they eyes, pointy little chin, mad hair, the ability to carry twins to term without so much as a sore muscle.  I have a pleasant body.  All of my wobbles make for a comforting hold.  The texture of my post-twins belly is interesting – it’s kind of wrinkled and I don’t mind it.

I’m fond of my personality, too – of who I am.  I’m a good person.  I’d like to be my friend.

And I’m unapologetic about that.

I’m so happy these days.  When I remember those miserable earlier years, the sheer mortification out shopping in case anybody assumed that I was arrogant and deluded enough to think that I would look nice in new clothing, I feel horrified at how awful life was back then.

I had no idea that I had low self-esteem.  I just thought that I had a balanced view of a dreadful person.

Sometimes I get the impression that it’s not desirable for a woman to think highly of herself, that self-deprecation should be the status quo for a woman.  I wonder why.  Do men constantly strive for self-improvement in the way that we do?  Genuine question.  I don’t remember fighting over the bathroom with my only ever former boyfriend, or watching him angst over his appearance and interactions in the way that my female friends do.

Aren’t we worth more than this?  Aren’t you?

I bloody well am.

I’m marvellous.  I’m the product of millions of years worth of sperm meeting eggs and implanting and successfully being delivered into the world and surviving to reproduce.  Isn’t that miraculous?  I refuse to feel apologetic about my existence.

Sometimes I feel as though it’s a fun club from which I’ve deliberately included myself.  Sometimes I catch people whom I respect discussing their perceived flaws and it seems like fun.  Sometimes I think that it would be so easy to join in, to find something about myself to rip apart with these people.  But why should I?  Why can’t we chat about what we like about each other?

My own mother openly admits that if she were wealthy, she would employ a plastic surgeon to ‘start at (her) toes and work his way up’.

Isn’t that horrifying?  I’m horrified.

I don’t want my boys to see the world like that.  I don’t want them to see self-denigration as the norm.  I don’t want them to expect their future partners to indulge in these strange, harmful thoughts and behaviours.

If they become fathers, and I hope that they do, I hope that they will not expect the mothers of their children to look exactly the same, feel exactly the same.  I hope that they will find the post-childbirth body to be womanly, even beautiful.  Because it is.  Well – mine is.  And I bet that yours is too.

And I bet that you’re rather marvellous, actually.

Because you’re a product of millions of years worth of sperm meeting eggs and implanting and successfully being delivered into the world and surviving to reproduce, too.

And you’re lovable, too.  And you can pull off that skirt, don’t worry.  And even if you can’t, who really cares?  It’s a great colour.  And you have a great smile.  Who would notice the skirt anyway when you turn on that smile?

And even if you don’t have a great smile, what does it matter?  You’re alive.  That in itself is no small miracle.  And it’s going by in a flash.

Be happy.  Allow yourself to be happy.  Teach yourself to be happy.

You’re worth it, I promise.

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14 Comments

  1. February 2, 2015 / 2:55 pm

    This is very true, I have a habit of putting myself down but yet won’t do it in front of my kids because I don’t want them to think its the norm, so why do I do it?!

  2. February 3, 2015 / 9:28 pm

    I love this post! When I had Dylan I think I decided to think a bit differently and tried to cut out negative people from my life. I wanted to feel good all the time and I wanted my children to hear positivity. I will never be completely comfortable with myself but I have plenty that I like and those are things I want people to see and I want my boys to see. I find my post-baby tummy really fascinating too – sometimes I mourn the washboard stomach I had before but mostly I like the wobble and lines of this one. x

  3. February 4, 2015 / 4:26 pm

    This a great post, I love it, I’m going to share it on my facebook. So, so true, so many people feel this way. I have felt this way for a long time, and I love how you chose to make a change… you should link this up to ‘share with me’ today and ‘brilliant blog posts’ tomorrow, more people should read this xxx

  4. Chloe
    February 4, 2015 / 8:08 pm

    what an excellent post. I often count my blessings that I am generally positive and confident about myself. I seem to have been built this way, and for that I am massively grateful as I know how difficult my teenage years and post baby years might have been otherwise. Negative thoughts do slip in occasionally, but I seem to bounce back quite quickly.

  5. February 4, 2015 / 8:29 pm

    Absolutely loving this post. What a celebration of life and all that is beautiful about being a human and a parent! Everyone should feel proud of who they are, or you can inspire them to make some changes – just like you did! I certainly fret about small things but deep down I am rather happy with who I am. My parents are and still are wonderful xx

  6. February 5, 2015 / 8:57 pm

    I LOVE this post, we’re all rather bloody wonderful aren’t we!

  7. February 5, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    Oh I love this post. From your decision to begin loving yourself and get out of the low self-esteem rut you were in, to your unadulterated appreciation of your body. How I wish my 14 year old daughter felt like this – she seems so self-conscious at the moment which I know is a phase but I want to scream “take a look at yourself properly, you’re beautiful!” We could all do with some of what you’ve got! Thanks for sharing on Loud n Proud.

  8. February 6, 2015 / 10:43 am

    Amazing post, Amber.

    I have decided to spend 2015 trying to ‘find my happy’, to try to learn to love myself.

    Reading your post, how you used to be, reminds me of me… right now. I’m embarrassed to wear nice clothes, I hate photos of myself and what I see in the mirror. But I have a daughter, the thought of her behaving in this way makes me sick to my stomach. So I NEED to teach myself to live right in order for me to teach HER to live right.

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

  9. July 10, 2015 / 7:59 am

    What a fantastic post! You’re so right, why on earth do we ‘enjoy’ hating ourselves so much? I’ve adjusted my view of myself of late and feel much happier for it. This is such a good message to put out there and I applaud you for writing it. A great post that every woman should read. Thanks for sharing. xx

  10. July 10, 2015 / 12:01 pm

    This is such an inspiring and powerful post. I often have low self-esteem but I try to make a conscious decision to see the positive in who I am. We all have flaws. Why do we need to beat outselves up for that? We are amazing. Nothing else matters. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

  11. July 13, 2015 / 8:05 am

    Ah I love this post Amber! I found having kids helped me grow in confidence so much, having little people who love you helps you to love yourself, well for me it did. I’ve always had a problem with my nose but when it in mini form on my children I knew that I could never say anything negative about it again as they would start to feel that way too. I also decided to never complain about my weight etc as I didn’t want them to hear me. It’s not always easy but it’s always better to focus on the positives xx

  12. July 20, 2015 / 8:03 am

    (does American cheerleading voice) Whoop woooooooo! Loved reading this Amber, you are so wroth it lovely lady. I think the idea of lusting after fortune so we can change our look is pretty horrifying as you said. We absolutely must learn to like ourselves ourselves if we are to live happy lives. Brilliant post xx #beinspired

  13. Colette B
    February 15, 2016 / 11:06 pm

    I just stumbled across this one Amber, I love it! You are indeed awesome x

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