Ten years ago, I was almost 60 pounds more than I am now.
I had cut my hair short, added a few highlights and really had this frumpy vibe going on. I had two kids at the time, ages 6 and 2. I was trying to be taken seriously as a good mommy and had let myself go. I was eating a ridiculous amount of sugar. I cared way too much about what other women thought of me. I formed new friendships with the moms from school and they frequently revolved around food. I hated the way I looked, but I fit in. After seeing the pictures from a trip to Disney with my family, I wondered how I let it happen. I knew I was wearing a size 14 and at five feet tall, it looked like I was wearing an even bigger size. I had a double chin and knew if I didn't stop this weight train, I'd be even bigger.
I lost 50 pounds in six months. I changed how I ate and worked out like crazy. It was great and I felt pretty... except for a few ugly things. First of all, one of the moms joked that if I lost any more weight, no one would want to hang out with me. I already felt that. There was a judgment thing going on and of course jealousy could have been behind it. Also, people don't like when we change. It bugs them out. It makes them confront certain parts of themselves they think they can't change. Many times when a woman would see I lost weight, she would tell me how they should lose weight or give me excuses why they haven't. I never knew what to say. I'd offer tips, but the conversation never really seemed to be about weight in the end.
The other side effect I was not ready for was that creepy guy stared at me randomly, making me feel uncomfortable and naked. I had gone from one person people saw -- an overweight woman -- to the cute young thing. I had also started growing my hair longer and dressing younger, and so I looked more my age. It was bizarre. This kind of attention was a double-edged sword. Seeing younger guys glance my way, checking me out at the gym, was very flattering and motivating to keep me going on the Stairmaster. But getting out of the car at the convenience store and feeling someone's eyes on me in a negative, disgusting, weird way felt awful. I didn't know how to act. I could see why someone would want to hide their body. I didn't want to have to wear baggy clothes out of fear and change who I was because of others. I was still trying to figure out who I was and wouldn't know her for quite a few more years. I actually felt like guys took me more seriously when I was overweight and treated me like a ditz when I was thinner. The whole thing was a mind trip.
Thank my thirties for the wisdom they keep bringing me. This fiery attitude is me, take it or leave it. Ladies, there is no need to compare ourselves to one another physically, career-wise, as moms or in any way. Work on yourself and develop a relationship with your body-mind-spirit. This changes everything. Don't ever feel like you have to adjust how you dress or how you are because of a man or a woman's reaction to you. How they react, think, speak and act is about them, not you. Men, don't objectify a woman who is dressed in a bikini or be disrespectful because you like the way a woman looks. A woman should never feel like she has to hide her body for fear of comments, ogling or creeper behavior. That is never going to get a guy anywhere anyway. Compliment a woman's intelligence, character, integrity, her heart. Praise who she is -- that's wooing her. Tell her that her eyes are beautiful, not her ass, or else she feels like all you want is a piece of ass.
Now, I don't expect females who don't know they're beautiful to play a tiny violin and feel bad for someone who feels judged for their beauty. I see beauty in all women and don't think there is any standard we have to live up to. True beauty comes from the inside, in a woman's passions, creativity, successes, her true essence; it shines out through her eyes and smile. When a woman loves herself, she gives off this air of confidence and like a magnet, people are drawn to that.
There's no such thing as an ugly woman, in my opinion. Ugly behavior yes, but there is something beautiful about every woman. Own that, ladies. No apologies for your beauty, sass or smarts -- EVER. Never let anyone define you by your appearance, be it your face, hair or weight. You define yourself. Let's teach the young girls how to become great women.