Sometime in the 1980’s or early 1990’s I decided to stop wearing jeans because I looked horrible in them. I held my thighs responsible for what I saw in the mirror. Many years later, I rediscovered jeans and now wear them all the time. What changed? (Hint: There is no way I actually got thinner over the decades.)
What completely escaped me all those decades ago was that fashion itself doomed me to failure. The jean style back then was high-waisted (well above the belly-button) with tapered legs. I put them on and instantly looked like a pear on stilts. What’s more, they flattened out my derriere, making it look wider than it actually was. Today that same jean style is affectionately known as the Mom Jean. If you are wearing them right now, I apologize if I offend, but believe me when I say that you can do so much better.
Is it any wonder I felt ugly when I wore those jeans? Of course not. What is a wonder is how easily I took the blame for what I saw in the mirror. Rather than recognize that the jean itself was wrong for my body, I labeled my body as wrong. What I saw in the mirror mirrored my self-confidence.
I completely believe that true beauty lies within. But, if we look in the mirror and see something horrifying, it’s hard to get past it sometimes. That’s why I had such a hard time with the scars from my mastectomy and reconstructive surgery that first summer. When I looked in the mirror, my body image and cancer collided and the butchery my body underwent to treat a disease became a part of my self image. Just like those jeans, the ugliness of my surgeries projected ugliness onto me.
As time went on, I realized I did not have to label myself as damaged and ugly. I participated in the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good…Feel Better” program and had a wonderful experience. I joined a rehabilitative exercise class, signed up at the local YMCA and began doing yoga. Taking back control over my body gave me self-confidence which exceeded the level I had pre-cancer.
Self-confidence has many sources, but I think one of the most important is the support we give ourselves. Most of us do feel better when we look good. Take a class, expand your horizons, make your nest comfortable and nurturing. When you give yourself the support you need to feel better, you give yourself the gift of self-confidence. From there, who knows what you can do to build a better world?
Did your level of self-confidence take a hit because of cancer? What are you doing to build it back up?
Survival > Existence,