A new low for self image.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25962930

Just look a this. It’s a sad portrayal of what women in Venezuela have to endure to be accepted and valued. Women, who are beautiful in their own right, are being made to feel worthless by a man. Mmmm, that is not an unfamiliar feeling for me. However, this man should know better but he uses his power to degrade and criticise naturally beautiful women to make them change and alter their looks to the extreme.

This programme (shown last night on the BBC in Britain) tells the story of several Venezuelan women on their quest to be crowned Miss Venezuela. It intensely worries me that women are encouraged to amend their appearance from such an early age. Many of these women are ‘persuaded’ to have breast enlargements, nose jobs, liposuction and even (and more disturbingly) have a ‘mesh’ sewn onto their tongue to stop them from eating solids. It’s ludicrous!

Women everywhere are fighting to be heard, we are fighting to be respected. Our natural beauty should be praised not judged. I suffer from low self-esteem, I have many insecurities about my appearance. I can’t imagine living like that. In a society where my body, my face, my beauty is constantly monitored and criticised. A world where ambition is fading and women are seen to have no real purpose, other than to be “beautiful”.

We were never meant to all look the same. We should be nurturing individuality not distinguishing it.

Say it together.

We are beautiful girls.

.Image

Just as we are.

Ros xx

She can give it but she cannot take it.

I’m not really a fan of those who hand out criticism freely but cannot accept it when it is directed at them. My mother and I have just been in that situation. I am writing this straight after our heated talk. She is currently upstairs having a tantrum (or at least that’s what it sounds like). She is banging doors and generally stomping around. Not really the expected behaviour of a seventy odd year old woman. She is patently angry yet her anger is not justified.

My mother is very critical; of her herself occasionally but mostly of others. She is a fault finder and my husband and I are usually on her list. I am mostly used to it as this is not something new. I do not like the constant fault finding in my husband however. Soon, he will be unable to put a foot right. I know it’s getting him down. He is already afraid of failure and this is hardly helping.

This morning was not targeted at my husband. My mother woke up late with leg pains. For the last few weeks she has been suffering with them and after a day of long walking, her pains worsened over night. I had already been up for a couple of hours before her when she came downstairs. No “Hello” or “Good morning”, only chat about her disrupted night. I made her a tea and continued about my business. As David and I have plans to head into Central London today, I began getting ready at ten. After doing my make up, I headed upstairs to collect my phone and saw my mum sitting on her bead. She looked tired and weary so I went and gave her a hug.

I showed her my eye make up and asked if she liked it. She said that it was nice. As I left the room my mother spoke in a mix of English and Bengali and said,

“Why don’t you wear another pair of trousers? You’ve worn those yesterday. You got so many others that are nicer”.

This may not seem like an odd thing for a mother to say to her daughter but when her daughter suffers from BDD, it is not the most appropriate thing to utter. There was a similar incident yesterday morning where my mother thought it would be okay to criticise my weight and say that I needed to cut out fat in my diet. She was complaining about her own weight before she started to attack mine. I was still in bed as she ranted on. It immediately left me distraught. Every day I am aware of the weight that I have gained these last few months. The portion size at home has not helped as my mother eats very large portions of food. Cooking for her has become difficult as I tend to have to cook much more than I normally would. Temptation is always there and after a long and stressful day at work, it is enticing to have those extra five roast potatoes.

I made David explain to her that I suffered from BDD, that it is an illness and the slightest comment can set it off. She was incredibly understanding yesterday and apologised for her comment. Today was a different story. I had hoped that what my husband told her would resonate in her mind but it was almost like what she heard yesterday never happened. I got upset as soon as she criticised my clothes today. I tried to stay calm but as soon as I feel uncomfortable in what I am wearing I cannot shake the feeling off. I become very aware of what I look like and become defensive. My mother gets defensive all the time but cannot accept it when anyone else does. I tried to explain what she said had hurt me. She proceeded to stand by her comments. To her, it’s trivial. To me, it destroys my confidence. Why does she need to find fault in me? The same thing happened two weeks ago and she ruined my day out. She always does it as I’m about to leave the house.

I went a whole twenty four hours without taking my inhaler yesterday, I was so happy. This morning scuppered any chance of that lasting as after I got upset my mother fully lost her temper and launched into a rage. I ran downstairs struggling to breathe. I sat on the sofa as my husband looked on and covered my ears, quietly reassuring myself as her screams from upstairs echoed above me. When eventually her outburst had finished, I removed my hands – my chest was tight and a rash had appeared on my face. I fought hard to keep the tears back. She is just too stubborn to see past it all. She has turned the whole thing back on herself and is now playing the victim when all I needed was a bit of reassurance. Never in my whole life have I witnessed my mother shout and scream at my sister in the way she does with me. Why does the woman who bans her from seeing her grandchildren get more respect than the daughter that stands by her? Tell me?

Why do I still need to explain and describe to my family about who I actually am? For my entire adult life I have justified having emotions. They will not let me have a day off. To them I am to be happy and positive at all times. I am to be there for them and listen to their needs yet my needs are persistently neglected. I give up. I am too tired of it.

I am still a little tight now.

But writing this has helped.

I should be on the tube right now heading into London.

Instead I feel like shit.

Broken Mirror.

She looks at herself at her tainted reflection

and is taken aback by her bland complexion.

She hates what she sees and longs to change

to look normal and pretty instead of quite strange

they will say she is shallow and seems to be vain

as she rarely reveals when she is in pain

for her hurt is hidden and her anger disguised

her fading self belief rests in her sunken eyes

She finds fault and flaws in her entire face

ridiculing each feature to debase and disgrace

a horror to see what the world can see

in the broken mirror looking back at me.

Broken Mirror

*Photo – dreamstime.com

3. Sex and respect, Part 2.

I can’t say my first time was the most memorable, how many of us can? It wasn’t in a perfect relationship, or any relationship for that matter and it wasn’t with a total stranger I’d picked from a bar either. It was just the right time for me and at nineteen years of age I thought it was about time too.

I had nothing to compare it too and it certainly did not give me a taste for more as it was over a year that I contemplated doing it again. I definitely fell into situations that could have led to sex but I never followed through. I was confident yet massively insecure doubting how sexual I was or how appealing I came across. I received plenty of attention in my early twenties but put it down to my attractive set of friends. I never thought I may have been drawing that attention all by myself.

I knew nothing of men.

The only male figure I had around me was my father and that man could’ve put me off for life. I doubted men and was certain they’d betray me. I convinced myself I could never be loved. My father helped fuel those feelings with his constant criticisms and accusations against me. I felt disgusting most of the time. However, eventually, I pushed those deep rooted feelings to one side. I wanted to be loved and found physically attractive. I needed something positive from a man so I went looking for it.

In my early twenties a new found sexiness and courage developed in me. My love of fashion enabled me to flaunt myself and create a new seductive identity. It wasn’t me but it was better than the miserable identity my father had labelled me with. I revelled in it and enjoyed the copious amounts of attention I was now receiving from the opposite sex. My friends admired my confidence and ability to talk to anyone. It was just nice to be free, even if it was only for a few hours.

Soon, I became “addicted”. My lifestyle changed and I was out all the time. I was never a big drinker but my love of music and dancing drew me into the club scene. I was young and wanted a social life. My father didn’t care at first if I was out all hours but eventually it became another thing he wanted to control.

Clubs revealed a specific kind of guy. Ones that were out for one thing. Initially, I fell into this trap and believed their lines and flirtation. I thought I was giving as good as I was getting and still keeping boundaries. But I had never been exposed to the concept of boundaries so my lines were completely blurred. A few one night stands followed suit and many nights were spent anxiously waiting for the call that never came. I foolishly made these mistake several times, thinking each man would be different from the last.

But of course, I was wrong.

In my mid-twenties and in need of a long lasting relationship, I tried out on-line dating. I have to admit, I met some right bastards on that. Yet once again, I believed their lies as they romanced me into bed. Some I dated for a couple of months, others a few weeks and all the time they had the control. I see it now. I allowed it to happen, it was easier that way, it was all I was used to; a man controlling me.

Sex became an escape, a way to be free, to hide from the abuse and feel loved. It was a chance to feel released and become someone else.

Even if it was only for that one night.

Part 3 to follow.