Dear Advertisers and fellow ladies,
My name is Tarryn.
When I was young I really didn’t like my body very much, let me rephrase that, I didn’t like my body at all. My hair was too short and bushy, my thighs were too fat, my bum was too big, my lips were too thick and my nose just wasn’t sharp enough or so I was led to believe through the jokes of others and celebrated pictures of beautiful women who looked nothing like me. I didn’t feel enough. I didn’t feel feminine nor valued.
Besides the feelings of not being enough I was a pleasant child, very polite, pleasing and mindful of others feelings (often to my own detriment). I laughed a lot and was always very social, more a tomboy than a social butterfly though. I was wild but that was only one side of my personality. Though I was very social I was also a loner. An only child who thanks to the insistence of my father found ways to entertain myself by reading books and sketching and singing, these gave me ways to express beauty which went beyond physicality. I loved reading, novels and nonfiction books about the natural world.
I wanted to become a marine biologist at one stage and then a psychologist and I dreamed of living on the Atlantic seaboard. I wanted a house with a shallow pond in the dining room with a dining room table in the center and a view overlooking the ocean. I was full of dreams for my future and could not wait to finish school so that I could leave behind a painful childhood and start a life for myself, that was until I become very ill at the age of nineteen with an autoimmune disease and could no longer walk.
I am now a life coach (somewhat of a psychologist) and though I have changed my ideas about being a marine biologist I still love the ocean and my favourite thing to do is to sit along side it watching the waves. Other aspects my life has completely changed, I have grown emotionally. I have become strong and courageous because I have overcome many challenges. I have achieved massive dreams and have gone on amazing adventures.
I also feel less of a need to please others knowing that being true to myself is the only thing that matters. Slowly over the years, I changed my perceptions of my body and what makes me valuable. I found that what makes me valuable has nothing to do with how I look and everything to do with how much value I bring to others and life itself.
This journey I have been on has taught me one thing, when your body is tormented with pain having thinner thighs and a smaller ass become matters of insignificance, BECAUSE THEY ARE INSIGNIFICANT. Illness puts things into perspective and makes you yearn for the days when health was not something you had to fight for. I have hated my body so much when it was the most wonderful and intelligent organism ever created working day and night to keep me alive.
My hate however didn’t come from myself, it came from all the voices around me who told me there was something wrong with the way I looked, those closest to me. It came from comparing myself to the models in advertisements in Cosmopolitan and such magazines, that you the Advertisers placed there as an ideal that I should strive towards. You never glorified being kind, or thoughtful, or caring. That didn’t seem to matter. You never told me that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and that true beauty was something that shone from within. I suppose because true beauty cannot be bottled and sold.
If I could share a message with my younger self it would be this; Dear Tarryn, one day you will live in a world where people will spend tens of thousands and go through lots of pain to have an ass, thighs and lips like yours. One day people will risk having cancer spending hours under the hot sun to get a skin colour like yours. One day you will no longer be someone to be disregarded but an ideal yourself, however when you get to that time it will not matter to you because you will no longer base your value on the external.The days you spend reading, thinking, writing, working on yourself and helping others will fortify you in ways that will make you a force to be reckoned with.
You will go through some very sad times and cry lots of tears but I promise you, you will wake up one day with deep gratitude for your magnificent body that holds your spirit and allows you so many earthly pleasures.
I would like my fellow females to know that each word we utter to another sister be it a child or mother about their body is the words we use to imprison them or uplift them but also the same words will imprison or uplift ourselves. I know most of you do it because you care for the other person but bringing attention to a perceived ‘faults’ has nothing to do with love and everything to do with your own faulty beliefs of value.
If she is healthy, celebrate that, bring attention to that, and help her become more of that. Should this person you love fall gravely ill or no longer be on this earth is it her thighs or stomach which you will long for or her spirit? Be kind, that never goes out of fashion. Cultivate true value.
In sharing my story with all of you I am once again reminded to treat myself with love and care and to trust my process. Because I have fulfilled many of my dreams despite the odds and I can look back and feel proud of who I am. I know that the healthy body and house by the beach is coming too.