UBC14: This much is true

When she was little,
They pulled her cheeks.
They said she was cute
They called her sweet.

As she grew older,
Chubby she remained
But they no longer praised her
Just called her rude names.
So she didn’t go out much
Stayed at home instead.
Chose to be alone
Sometimes crying in bed.
When she flipped on the switch
To watch some TV,
The women on there
Were all so skinny.
She looked in the mirror
That hanged in her room
Instead of happiness,
All it increased was gloom.
Her face was too round,
Her arms too fat
Her hips were too wide
Her stomach far from flat.
All she wanted
Was for them to see
What she was like
Not her body.
She spent a long time,
Trying to become thin
She knew chubby was out.
Angles were in.
But try as she would,
She looked almost the same.
Slowly she came to terms
With the shape she would remain.

Holding her head high,
Now, she goes out,
Her chubby face
Wearing a smile on the mouth
The arms may still
Be too fat
But she couldn’t care
Less about that.
To feel accepted,
She knew this was true:

You need to accept yourself
Before others can accept you.
******
/

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Mirror Mirror

When I look in the mirror I see a face that once in a while, I’m totally content with. Most of the time, I look at my reflection and wish I looked a little different. I notice the unwelcome appearance of every new grey hair and try to calculate which is going to happen first – my hair turning completely white or my hair walking out of my life for good. I scan every inch of my face  to spot a new blemish. The discovery of which sets me on a hunt for something that will make it disappear. I check to see if I look fatter or thinner promising to start exercising every day and then breaking that promise every day….sigh…

When I look in the mirror, a large percentage of the time, it’s with some degree of hesitation. But, ever so often, I take an extra close look in the mirror to see beyond just the face and body looking back at me. There are times I frown at myself admonishing myself for constantly doubting my abilities and questioning my decisions. I know I look quite different but, I check to see if the girl in the mirror is the same person I was a couple of years ago. Still full of dreams, still a believer in happy-endings, still ever hopeful.

When I look in the mirror, I see all the jigsaw pieces that fit together to make me, me…

Her Parcel

The box had been delivered to her that afternoon and lay temptingly on her table. It wasn’t her birthday and she was beyond your regular curious to know what the big square carton contained. No matter what she did, the parcel kept drawing her gaze. When she pushed it gently, small things seemed to move inside, rattling and rustling as they brushed against each other in the confines of their paper prison. She ran her fingers on the outside, thrilling to the touch of the silky smoothness of the ribbon, eyes closed in concentration trying to figure out what treasures it held using only the power of her mind. Strangely, there was no return address so she wasn’t able to tell who it was from.

She had called him on the phone as soon as it came to ask if she could rip open the packaging and examine the contents. But he wasn’t even half as excited as she was. He asked her irrelevant questions about the box and then said no. A firm, absolute NO. She almost begged him to reconsider but he was not to be swayed.

He said that the box was too heavy for her to move. She had pushed it a little. It was a feather-weight box!

He said that she wasn’t as strong as she thought. She didn’t think so.

He said when he came home he would help her open the package. She wasn’t two years old!

He said that she could get injured. Opening a box?

He said the contents could be dangerous. Honestly? Who would want to hurt her?

He said that she should wait. For him to open her box??

He said she should keep herself occupied. When there was a package that had come for her?

He said he would be back soon. He bloody well should be, she thought.

He made her promise to wait. She agreed. Meekly. The sheer injustice!

He said. She did. Some days she got so angry with how he controlled everything she did. But most days, she was so tired that she was glad he had the reins to her life.

She sighed as she accepted that maybe he was right. Perhaps she wasn’t all that strong, some days she felt too weak to walk the short distance from her bed to the bathroom and he had to help her. But, today was a good day! She had even had breakfast on her own…and then napped till the doorbell rang and forced her out of bed…sigh…

She walked to the full length mirror that hung on her bedroom door and studied the woman staring back at her. She remembered how in the beginning, she loved looking at that mirror, watching as almost everyday the fat seemed to melt off her body. She had flirted naughtily with imaginary men and then ended things by flashing her wedding ring. She had never looked that good. She thought. But now, with that figure, she could have been a super model. She thought. She was tall and pencil thin. Just what the agencies wanted. She thought. Then. But, the weight loss didn’t stop. She couldn’t bear to look at herself anymore and asked him to take down the mirror. He had. Since the treatment began, she had become almost skeletal and lost all her hair. Her beautiful raven coloured hair. She had loved the way it made her look. But, it just fell off in bunches until one day he said she should shave it off because he thought she looked beautiful anyway. That’s when she asked him to put the mirror back up again.

Today, she was just as thin as ever and even though the frequency of her sessions had reduced, she hadn’t regained any weight. She was still skinny. But, that was alright she thought. What saddened her most was that there wasn’t even the slightest hint of fuzz on her head. It didn’t look like her hair was making a coming back. She missed her long hair. She turned away from the mirror and wished she hadn’t looked at it at all. Was she vain? Probably…but, any woman who said she didn’t care about the way she looked was a liar she thought.

She looked out the window and noticed the sky had turned a beautiful red. He would be back any minute. When she heard the key turn in the lock, she rushed to the door, scarcely giving him a peck on the cheek before pulling him towards her box. He laughed as he sat with her to open up her package. He pulled out a small box containing some fancy looking pens. There was a roll of handmade paper. A box containing little bits and bobs for her artwork. As he kept pulling out little things that she loved, she realized that the package was probably from him and grew more and more happy. Finally, she pushed the box a little and it felt empty so she sat back to examine her loot. What a haul! She was delighted. But, it wasn’t over. He put his hand in the box one last time and pulled out something long and black. She looked at it confused, before her eyes widened, registering what it was.

There in the light of the setting sun, she ran to the mirror, the one she had begun to loathe and put on the wig. She looked at herself and smiled. She looked beautiful again. She thought. She was the luckiest woman in the world. She thought. Who else would know what little things made her so happy? Who else would have thought of a wig?

She asked him why. He told her that he wanted her to feel beautiful again, even though he had never thought she was anything else. She looked at him with happy tears in her eyes.

He said he would do anything to see her smile like that. She said that she loved him.

Maybe she really was the luckiest woman in the world. She thought…no…she knew.

(This was part of a Flash Fiction challenge using five randomly generated words which were, figure, dusk, flirt, mobile phone and wig)

Are you beautiful?

I was watching videos of the new Dove “Real Beauty” campaign…the ones that are circulating round Facebook and those on the Dove website (www.realbeautysketches.dove.com). According to their studies, there are only a handful of women (4 percent) who truly believe they are beautiful and I thought, “No freaking way!”

Then I realized it’s probably true. Women think other women are beautiful…most women I know don’t think the same about themselves.

Is that really what we see?

Is that really what we see?

As women, we often downplay our best features and focus on things we think make us look less than awesome. Women with chubby cheeks (and I speak from experience) look at women who have prominent high cheek bones and sigh  a deep sigh of envy. But, it’s not just that, I know women with large eyes who wished they were smaller, thin lips who wished they were fuller and long noses who wished they were shorter and vice-versa. Even the texture of our hair bothers us…women with curly hair straighten it while women with straight hair perm. And lets not even start on body build and size….

We try to cover up our blemishes with make-up and try to wear only those certain types of clothes that are supposed to be styled in a certain way to camouflage our imperfections. But, even though we do all of that, most of us are never really satisfied with the way we perceive ourselves. There is always something wrong with us when we look into the mirror. So, we look at other women and covet their beautiful features forgetting that they are looking at us doing the very same thing.

To add to our woes, we have the complimentors. These are people who tell us we look good. Do we dare believe them? Are you kidding me?? Of course not! How can we believe them? They are just being kind to us. We almost never accept that when people around us compliment us…they genuinely mean it! We usually look at the complimentor uncertainly and then laugh off the compliment awkwardly. We seem to have some problem accepting that other people could find us better looking than we find ourselves.

That’s why I found the Dove experiment amazing. Yes, it picked only a handful of women but those women stand as examples for us, the rest of the population. They were able to see themselves as other people saw them. They were astounded to find out that the people around them found them so much more beautiful than they thought they were. It helped them see themselves in new light and feel better…much better about themselves too.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we live in a world where the way we look makes a difference in the way that our lives pan out, more so unfortunately for women than men. To be able to realize and accept that we look good, just the way we are, every day of the damn week would make us instantly more confident and sure of ourselves.

I look great…and you know what….so do YOU!

(Please note that I am not affiliated to Dove in any way what-so-ever. I just appreciated the idea behind showing real women how beautiful they really are).