Body Image and Writer Image: Easily Dysmorphic, Rarely Accurate

On Bad Girlz Write, we like to drop a truth bomb from time to time. Today I share a truth I’m not particularly proud of:

Sometimes I think I’m ugly and, just as often, I think I’m a horrible writer.

Not like, “Oh I feel bummy or sloppy today.” I’m talking completely convinced that others cringe and pity my unattractiveness. I didn’t say it was a rational truth, and I don’t know if everyone feels this way sometimes, but I’m willing to bet some of you can sympathize with my bouts of self-loathing.

I don’t know why I’ve always struggled with body or appearance image. I didn’t grow up in a home that put a lot of pressure or stock on looks and the superficial. My parents were hippies! Maybe society and the media play a role, but for whatever reason, I’ve struggled with accepting my outward appearance as something I love. I compare myself to ideals that don’t exist in reality. I envy how other women look and how put together they seem. I always want to lose weight, have better skin, better hair, etc.

I do the very same thing with my writing.

Then, this winter, I saw a picture of me from ten years ago. I was a summer camp counselor in the piney woods of Cheraw, SC. In my Soffe shorts and camp shirt, with no make-up and curly/wavy/can’t-decide-what-it-wants-to-do hair (because Camp Cheraw is not only HOT, but there are no outlets for hair dryers or curling irons)…I actually looked pretty cute. Yet I vividly remember that time in my life, and I was far from being happy with who I was. At the time, there were probably a dozen things I would’ve changed about myself. Looking back, I don’t see a single thing I’d change.

That’s when it hit me: I’m still the same woman. A few more fine lines around my eyes, hair has definitively more gray, but I’m basically the same. And regardless, this body and face have been with me for almost 40 years, and they’ve been good to me.  They’ve gone through a lot with me and, I hope, a lot more to come.

So maybe I need to quit hating on myself.

The same goes for my writing. Is my writing perfect? Hell, no. But is it better than two years ago? Absolutely. I’m improving and, more importantly, it makes me happy. When I look at myself, instead of others, I’m happy with me. I have a lot I could improve upon as a writer, but some things I do pretty well. My writing has helped me through some very difficult times in my life. I like to think it’s brought some joy to others too, maybe made them laugh or helped them through their day.

My craft, like my body, is something I need to nurture, and I’m trying to love both of them more – even when they frustrate the hell out of me. I’m going to spend a lot less time being down on my reflection, and a lot more time appreciating what I have. Ditto for my writing. I’m going to nurture my craft, learn and improve. I’m going to do more of the things that will make me a stronger story teller, and stop these habits that are defeatist and always, always bring me down. I’ll be spending a lot more time enjoying this thing I love, and a lot less time beating myself up because I’m impatient or comparing myself to others.

I will fail at this sometimes, I’m sure, but I’m shifting my overall view and approach: Less looking around and measuring myself against some imagined ideal of beauty and/or writer awesome-ness. More being happy with my journey and me.

Do any of you struggle with body and/or writer image? What could you do to be happier with you? Have you toasted yourself or patted your own back lately, for all that you’ve accomplished and all that you will? You should, because you guys kick ass! Take a moment right now and appreciate yourself, because there is no one in the world like you. 🙂

And now that I’ve gone all hippy group hug on you, here’s a pile of cuteness to top it off.bulldog puppies

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