“I turn women into perfect 10’s,” my cosmetology student boasted, sweeping his gaze down my form. The implication, of course, was that he could fix me up. Take me from my current rating, which whatever it was, certainly wasn’t a 10, to that elusive pinnacle of beauty that women crave.
For a moment I didn’t know what to say. I sat there, all 250 pounds of me, fresh faced and sporting a pony tail, so newly comfortable in my own skin and considered.
For most of my life I would have traded anything- anything- to be beautiful.
But you’re so smart.
Useless. You can have it. I want to be pretty.
But you’re so funny.
Don’t care. You can have it. Give me beauty.
But you’re so creative.
What’s the point? You can have it. Just make me lovely.
So talented. So entertaining. So sweet.
Not one of my gifts came close to what I wanted. To be beautiful.
Beautiful women were loved.
I was not beautiful.
I was not loved.
As a teenager I would spend hours naked in front of the bathroom mirror sucking in my flesh, pressing and pulling on it, trying to imagine my body without its insulating layer of fat. I would dream of carving away my flesh with knives to reveal the body underneath.
As a young woman, when even years of diet and exercise, vomiting and laxatives, failed to give me the form I desired, I could not stop myself from daydreaming of cancer. Though I might lose my hair or even my life, at least cancer would make me thin.
Then followed the years where I just gave up. I would never be free from my unwieldy body. Trapped in my flesh, I would never be loved. I stopped looking in mirrors. Stopped bothering to wear make-up. Stopped caring what I wore. I resigned myself to a half-life as a woman with no beauty. That is where I stayed for many years.
Until the day I decided I wasn’t going to wait anymore. I could not wait until I was thin to be beautiful. That was the beginning of a journey for me. A journey where I learned to talk back to the mirror, that beauty is a fickle thing, that I am strong, to stop believing the lies that were fed to me, and that my femininity is not defined by the circumference of my thighs.
Sitting there across from that unsuspecting student of mine, I felt power surge up in me. Suddenly I knew it was true, without a bit of make-up on, sporting jeans and a t-shirt, still schlepping around 100 extra pounds, I was already absolutely and immeasurably beautiful.
“I could turn you in to a perfect ten,” he boasted.
“Honey,” I countered, brazen with this new found confidence, “I already am!”