I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and I have to say I admire you. You are such a strong woman and so proud of who you are. I wish I could say the same, but I’m not. When I’m outside, I walk around with my head down, hoping I can get where I’m going without anyone insulting me. I’ve never had a boyfriend. Every guy I’ve ever liked hasn’t liked me back, so I just crawl back into my shell and don’t bother. I’ve tried to lose weight so many times but it just hasn’t worked. My family criticizes me all the time. Sometimes I don’t know how I go on. Life is so unfair, and fat people get treated terribly. Nobody cares about who we are inside. All they care about is how we look. I just wanted to say thank you for your blog, I read it regularly and it does make me feel better. Maybe someday I’ll get the courage to do the things I want to do, but right now I just can’t. I just feel too beat down.
-- Lonely Girl
Dear Lonely Girl,
First of all, I want to start by saying how thankful I am for your letter. You, and other women like you, are exactly why I started writing my blog. Life IS unfair, no doubt about it. Let’s face facts: In this society, people are rewarded for how they look. In most cases, the way you look affects how far you will get in life. Most employers determine whether you’re worth hiring or promoting based secretly (lots of times not so secretly) not on your resume or your job performance, but on how you look. Men look you over and determine whether you’re worth dating because of how you look. Even friendships can be determined by how you look. It comes into play in every single facet of our lives, and it sucks the big one. But this is where we have to summon the strength inside ourselves, get angry, and say: Fuck You. You will not determine the quality of my life. I will determine the quality of my life. I will not allow others to beat me down, insult me, ridicule me, tell me I can’t do better or find anyone to love me … etc., etc.
I wasn’t always as strong and confident as I am now. For a long time, I was a lot like you. I was afraid of the world, because it is such a horrible, unfriendly place at times. I used to walk around with my head down too. I used to hope no one would notice me, because it seemed like every time someone did notice me, it was only to ridicule me or put me down. I simply got fed up. I got angry. I decided I wasn’t going to let anyone make me feel hopeless anymore.
I don’t know how old you are, and I’m sorry if you’ve heard this before, but with age comes experience. When I was in my 20s, I was totally dependent on what other people thought of me and my life reflected that. I wasn’t getting much positive feedback in any aspect of my life. But as I got older, and started thinking about who the people were that were telling me these things, and the reasons they had for telling me these things, I started to realize … it wasn’t about me at all. It was about THEM. Their well-being and self-image depended on my feeling bad about myself … and I finally realized how warped it was allowing them to control my self-worth and self-image. So I started taking control. I started thinking about what I wanted and what was best for me. Anger was the fuel that kept me going through all the obstacles. I’m not saying anger ran my life, but it definitely gave me the impetus I needed to stand up to people and let them know their free ride was over. I wasn’t going to allow them to get away with short-changing me anymore.
You need to draw on the most powerful part of yourself, whatever it is … whether it’s anger, ambition, creativity, hope, love and respect for yourself … and use that as fuel to keep you going. Once you get in the habit of expressing your strengths, your self image will start to change. You’ll trust yourself and your instincts, you’ll know what’s good for you … and most importantly, you’ll know what’s bad for you, and you’ll learn to avoid it like the plague.
If you’re surrounded by negative people (you mentioned that your family criticizes you), then you need to get away from that influence as much as possible. Most of us still need some kind of contact with our families, even if we know it can be negative, but in that case, you just need to limit your time with them … and when you’re with them, remind yourself that they’re not controlling your life anymore. That goes for anyone negative in your life that you can’t avoid dealing with. You have to be a little merciless if your well-being is the price for being in their company.
I really hope you keep reading my blog and find lots of encouragement and support in it. You're not alone. It’s a privilege for me to hear from people like you. You’re the reason I do what I do.