It seems fitting that New Year’s Eve is a Thursday and the perfect time to “throwback” and reflect. This picture was taken well over 10 years ago (almost thirteen to be specific) and while on the surface it may seem like a great throwback, it actually makes me feel a bit sad and as it turns out, it was one of the motivating reasons I began penning my novel.
Looking at my size 4 body and luxurious long curly hair, you might think I was sitting on top of the world – the fact is, this picture was taken at a time when my self esteem was at its lowest . At the time it was taken, I was dating a guy who looked at this picture and said, “Not bad. If you could tone up your tummy and work on those triceps, then you’d be really sexy.” With my state of mind being what it was at the time of us dating, I actually believed him.
Just ten more pounds and you’ll be sexy, just grow your hair a bit longer, and then you’ll be hot, paint your nails, wear more makeup, lighten your skin and the world will be your oyster..it’s all BULLSHIT. And it took me a long time to figure out why none of those things are what makes a person sexy or attractive and even longer to really believe it.
I’m in no way blaming him solely for the slashes to my self-esteem and for reducing my value to what one sees on the surface (though I did have fun exacting a small bit of personal revenge on him in my novel). Magazine covers of North American models and Hollywood actresses did plenty of damage as well. There were no short, brown-skinned, bespectacled girls on the covers that I could relate to and as a result, I tried too hard to be something far out of the realm of my reach. The South Asian cultural pressure to be thin and light skinned (like I had much say in the latter) also took a toll on me. It was the two pressures combined that led me to believe that because I didn’t measure up on either side, I was doomed to a life of spinsterhood with nothing more than buckets of empty wax jars, broken tweezers and Spanx to keep me company for the rest of my life and constantly serve as a reminder of how I failed to measure up. But in the end, I am the one responsible for how I filtered those pressures and how I managed my own expectations.
Now the New Year is upon us, and with it, come resolutions and promises to ourselves to do better, exercise more, eat properly etc. While I agree that after a holiday of serious imbibing and decadence some damage control may be necessary, I no longer resolve to strive for cover model status and societal (or ignorant, self-absorbed, narcissistic, assholey boyfriend’s ideals – but I’m not bitter or anything 🙂 ) measurements of what an ideal body looks like. I am where I want to be and I am happy with the way I look because I know the most important work to be done starts from the inside, not just the outside.
Many years later, I look at this picture and I know that what makes a person sexy isn’t their size, their clothes, their skin tone or their youth, it is their attitude, their beliefs, their brain, their kindness and so much more. So make your resolutions if you must, stick to your new way of eating and exercising if that is what makes you feel better but know that it won’t be the scale that will tell you that you’re hot it’s the look of approval you give yourself when you stare back at your own image in the mirror and you truly love and adore what you see.
So let’s “throwback” a beverage, of whatever you love, and toast the incoming New Year as I wish you all a happy, healthy, loving, sweet, sexy, prosperous and spiritually uplifting 2016 – and above all, one filled with personal acceptance and self-love.