Dealing with low self esteem/ bad body image

(Thank you to my friends Homer and Anumita  who thought I should absolutely write about this. Here it is)

An ex-boyfriend once commented on how fat and unattractive I was. Luckily for me, he is the only boyfriend to have ever said something so nasty and insensitive, but I am pretty certain that he is not the only person out there who has treated his partner badly. There are all forms of abuse and this is definitely one form. I would say that I am a fairly confident person and I do not usually take peoples' snide remarks to heart. But I want to know from other women (if they are willing to disclose, of course), have they experienced more hurt when the insults have come from someone who they have dated/ been with?

This wasn't all. My writing was torn down and I was called names. Toxic relationships are awful and the worst part is not being able to get out of them. Mine lasted for almost one and a half years and once I was out of it, I could feel the breeze on my face, stare at the blue sky and appreciate all the things I used to appreciate. I didn't know that this could suck the life out of me. I am prone to depression in any case (and I don't mean it in a casual sense. I have had problems with it before) and this did not make things better for me.

I Know I felt terrible about my body and myself and in trying to deal with it, I did two things. a. I wrote detailed letters to my best friend who handled me with kid gloves at the time and b. I took pictures of myself every single day. On some days, I looked nice, some days I thought I looked not so nice, but I made peace with who I was. And who I am. And what I looked like.This idea wasn't entirely original. My aunt once told me that one of the Gender Studies majors at one of the universities she teaches in once did a project on girls' bodies where she asked individuals to take pictures of themselves for a period of three months and submit them anonymously. The idea behind the project was to ensure that all sorts of bodies, shapes and sizes are appreciated.

However, I did deal with it and I have lots and lots of pictures of myself ( I hate taking pictures but I took one picture everyday for the entire year) and if anyone wants me to put them up, I will.


anumita said…
Self esteem can hit rock bottom when one is constantly under the scanner.Being a bit plump myself( i shall avoid using the word fat) i have major body issues and though I do try to be accepting of the way I am but it still lingers somewhere at the back of my mind and hits me when i least expect it too.
Having someone whom you have been with to tell you about how "ugly" you are can be emotionally scathing and can have repercussions in ways more than one. Noone and i repeat can make you feel that way unless you want them to be because at the end of the day we are beautiful just the way we are. Yes we may not be the perfect supermodel that you dream of (or you want us to become) but that does not make us any less beautiful.
Anonymous said…
I love your honesty and absolute lack of inhibition of saying it just the way you feel. i have been a regular fighter against low self esteem and am still fighting it. although i have not been into such toxic relationships, esp the kind that you ve mentioned, i have been a victim to insults from someone i have dated before. but i guess i have been able to let go of the insult and been rather forgiving, considering him to be immature. i am so glad that you shared this and i agree with anumita...we are indeed beautiful people with beautiful bodies and we must be proud of them. we can be the source of our own happiness and we do not need to find happiness in others. big hug.
Reeti said…
Thanks both of you for your comments. @Rainsongstress : I had actually decided against writing about it and simply moving on but realised that me keeping quiet would not help matters. There are men and women who get away with treating their partners badly, abusing them and then we simply forgive them or try to censor ourselves. Also, if this can help anyone recognise any signs of an unhealthy equation, I'll be very happy that they ended things.
Vagabond said…
Had this been a few years ago, I would have probably commented as 'anonymous' but not anymore.
I was in a terrible relationship and the guy I was dating left no stone unturned to make me hate myself.
He had called me 'ugly' a few million times and even tried to physically abuse me.

For a long time after I left him, I was really unsure of myself. I did not write, go out. I even distanced myself from people I loved.

Almost a year after the break up, I changed cities - joined college, made new friends. I think time purges us of people who aren't worth it.
Today I feel beautiful, and I have someone in my life who makes me feel beautiful despite all the dark circles and plumpness.
I truly believe that you really need to love yourself before you can expect someone else to love you!
Reeti said…
I am glad all three of us, after going through similar experiences have come up with the same solution- being strong enough to love oneself despite everything else. All three of you are right about being confident enough to not let someone else drag you down, but it often happens. This amazing guy I knew and know once told me that he thought I was pretty. The same guy I write about immediately retorted, "but of course he would,he has a fat fetish."

I know this is not the last time I will write about this, but I will definitely not let anyone else treat me like this ever again.
Anonymous said…
Being skinny, people on the fuller side of the spectrum often attack me for being obsessed about my physique and appearance, which has frequently led me to question my own motivation behind maintaining a healthy body. Reading this made me realize that people aren't appreciative of full bodied women either! Confused lot the world is. :)
Reeti said…
@ anon : That's a very interesting perspective, thanks for sharing. I think at the end of the day, it really boils down to taking things with a pinch of salt. Ideally, it would be a much more understanding set of people who we interact with on a daily basis but I'm pretty sure you're fabulous, just the way you are and that's the only way to be.