Stascia L. Horton
I am a 40-year-old female. I have struggled with self-image since my toddler years. I have been a preschool teacher and seen other toddlers with the same struggle.
There are many things that impact a child’s self-image at such a tender age. It is often a child’s parents who hinder development of self-confidence. That was my case. My mother and stepfather used to actually tell me that I was fat and ugly. I have heard parents berate their small children over their appearance: if their hair was messy or they got dirty or if their clothes were not just so. I simply do not understand doing this to your child, but I do understand that a person who subjects a child to this has low self-esteem themselves. No self-respecting person would subject another person to such behavior. However, even small children have celebrity obsessions or a warped sense of what they should look like. We live in a world so focused on celebrities, beauty pageants and the need to be pristine. Gone are the shows with normal looking children, and in have marched cartoons where the girls and boys are fashionistas. The trend setters are the heroes and the fashion mishaps become the villains.
I also was born with a spinal deformity on top of being subjected to dismally self-depressed role figures. This made me even more self-conscious. The kids at school made fun of me for the way I walked because of the deformity. This did at least motivate me to work really hard at camouflaging my deformity. It was a feeling of accomplishment when I was successful enough to abate the teasing.
Despite the fact that I have modeled on occasion, which I did to confirm for myself that I could look every bit as good as a girl in a magazine, I still resent the fashion industry. Being in the industry allowed for enlightenment about the reality of this presumed beautiful array of women. Oh they are beautiful, and they were before all the touch-ups and makeup and posing and lighting. Most people don’t get that inside look to learn the tricks of the trade and aren’t able come to the realization that these people are very real and look like everyone else before all the adornments. Men and women both keep trying to strive to be model-perfect, when in reality most already are.
Here I am at forty years old finally starting to accept that hey, maybe I can be beautiful just the way I am. I am an artist and I find everyday people to be beautiful. I find their imperfections to be unique. I find their personalities exude an appearance. I am enthralled by smiles and laughter and intelligence and find that people who attract me inwardly are attractive to me outwardly. It took me a long time to apply all of that to myself.
Forty years old, a scar that runs almost the entire length of my spine from surgery to insert metal rods to keep me straighter, a pin in my right foot with its corresponding scar, crooked teeth from a car accident and stretch marks from having a child and I finally realized that I am more beautiful now than I was when I was younger. I am more beautiful because I am a survivor and a fighter. My story of struggle and achievement are more beautiful than any runway walk I have ever taken.
The reason? I learned to smile. I cast off people who made me cry and made me doubt, and surrounded myself with people who loved me, believed in me and supported me. I began to smile and laugh again and I have realized that smiling and laughing are what made me beautiful to other people. I realized that I needed to see myself the way I saw others; from the inside out. For I truly can see someone who may look beautiful on a magazine cover but who lives in such negativity that I instantly, upon actual interaction, no longer find them attractive. Yet to me, someone a talent scout would cast off is more beautiful than anyone you’ll see on the cover of a magazine. No magazine cover will ever be able to capture the beauty of one’s heart.
Something I said recently: There is more beauty in self-confidence than you will ever find in a tube of lipstick or mascara.
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