I love my looks. I like my face. My smile is bright, and the shape of my eyes are unique, and when I smile, I do so so from my eyes. I am not as photogenic as I’d like to be, but I do love myself and the way I look. This wasn’t always the case though. I learned early that words hurt.
Focus on Looks
My mom made it clear that she did not like me very much. In the beginning, she focused solely on my looks in comparison to my sisters. Nicola, my oldest sister, was breathtaking. Everyone said so, especially our mom. Caroline is attractive too, and people have always fawned over the both of them. But when referring to me? I was smart, athletic, and sweet. The only time that I was “OK” looking, according to my mom, was when I wore the layers of makeup my mom thought was a necessity.
As my body developed my breasts and legs brought a lot of attention from both boys and girls, and disgustingly, from grown men (but that is another post in itself).
My mom taught me that my body was evil. She talked down about the shade of my skin, not in too many words, but her thoughts were obvious when she bought me makeup that was much lighter than my actual skin color. She spoke in hushed tones about my birthmark — a green tint on the right side of my face that also tints my eye. And she made insulting comments about my breasts.
Still, I never disliked what I saw in the mirror, I just thought I was plain. Different. Average. I loved myself and I liked the dark tone of my skin. My birthmark gave me character and it never made me feel like a freak. Additionally, at a time when girls my age were reciting “we must, we must, we must increase our bust,” I was admiring the way my curves clung to my clothes.
But, eventually, and rather quickly, I began to notice the way people spoke about me — to feel their words sting me like an open-handed slap. Especially the way my mom talked to me and about me to others. And these words became harsher after I was raped the summer between 8th and 9th grade.
I began to dislike the womanly curves that developed on my body. And I discovered that words hurt. She called me things like, “heifer,” “and disgusting.” She accused me (and make no mistake, it was very much an accusation) of having sex even before I was actually sexually active. My mom even went as far as to blame me for the sexual abuse that I endured. Once I willingly began having sex, I did so to escape. It was a way to prove, passive aggressively, my desirability to my mother who reminded me almost daily that I was unlovable.
When sex stopped making me feel good, I turned to bulimia, my Friend, confidante, and control. In my sophomore year of high school, I began forcing myself to vomit and continued to do so through my second year of college. The truth is that by the end of my senior year, I was releasing food almost four times a day. Then, in June of 1995 at the end of my senior year in high school, I discovered that I was pregnant.
My body did not like pregnancy, and almost immediately, I was vomiting without prompting two to three times daily. Between the morning sickness and the bulimia, I had worked myself up to vomiting close to seven times a day. I looked forward to it, enjoying the release that came from being able to stop my body from becoming more than it already was, which was clearly too much.
Desperate to leave home and armed with a clear understanding that I had nothing to offer a child, I decided almost immediately to have an abortion. Together, my father, my boyfriend (The Bad Boy) and I went to Planned Parenthood for the procedure.