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mirror mirror

Everyone’s got their self-image issues.  As I meet and get to know more and more people, I’m convinced this is true.  Regardless of how one appears to others, or the number of times someone is told they’re attractive, there’s a nagging doubt present somewhere in there.

Am I wrong?  Are there those who are self-confident from the core outward?  I’d love to learn their secret.

Growing up as a scruffy, dark-skinned Chinese girl in an almost all-white town did not help my self-image.  I have differently shaped eyes, weirdly shaped face, big nose, thick hair, and thick lips.  Speaking of the last, I had no idea thick lips were a desired trait at all, having been surrounded by blonde, blue-eyed, thin-lipped kids my whole life.  My peers, my town, and Western media defined my sense of aesthetic, and it took quite a while to tear myself away from that lens.

In fact, for most of my childhood I refused to look at myself in the bathroom mirror and had no mirror in my bedroom.  I made myself a tomboy to avoid competing with other girls and refused to wear dresses, makeup, or jewelry until I got to college.  Partially I thought it would be too vain of me, but I realize now that it was an arrogant attempt to dismiss those things as unnecessary.  And perhaps a nugget of fear that even makeup and jewelry could not make me look (or feel) attractive.

I remember hating the frequency with which my mother would ask if anyone had complimented my appearance or clothes, as it only heightened my self-consciousness.  And the term most often used to describe me is “cute.”  I hated that word when I was younger, though I’ve now more or less accepted it as inevitable.  I’m “cute.”

I guess I am only divulging all of this because of recent events in the past couple months.  I’ve realized that people wanting to talk to or play with me may not be just because they’ll chase after anything with a heartbeat.  Thinking that would be a great insult and disservice to these wonderful people that I’ve crossed paths with, and if I can’t trust my own judgment, at least I can try to put my trust in theirs.

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  1. Wilhelmina
    August 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    completely feel this. i had to deal with similar things, though it was being eurasian in a city full of chinese people. i ended up doing the tomboy thing as well, didn’t start wearing skirts until i was 18, and after that gradually became more and more feminine until now i barely wear pants at all 🙂

    good that you’re starting to realize people appreciate you.

    • August 25, 2009 at 11:59 pm

      Thanks! It’s strange, because I actually don’t have any body shape/size issues. I think my body looks fine. All the insecurity is completely centered above my neck.

      I can only imagine what it was like to grow up in a city of stick-thin Chinese people. I remember you wrote about that before. I’ve had cousins go on ridiculously outlandish and painful diets because they are much curvier and thicker and live in such a homogeneous society of incredibly thin people, both girls and guys. It is really hard.

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