Verdadera is a publication created by and for Monta Vista teens for the purpose of instigating
communication concerning the 'real world' of high school within the community. Each month, an issue on
a topic relevant to the lives of our students is sent home for reading by parents and students alike. We
encourage you to discuss and explore the issues and stories, as the publication aims not only to offer an
outlet for expression but to improve our lives. Keep in mind that the emotions that flow through the text
and the feelings behind the words could be those of your child, your classmate, or your best friend. While
we do not edit submissions, we aim to publish personal experiences, not opinion articles. Please utilize all
the resources present in the publication and feel free to email comments and feedback.
The Verdadera staff thanks you for your interest and support.
This issue includes stories about selfimage and the struggles students face when dealing with selfimage.
Often times I look back at my life and realize what little To American kids, this may seem ridiculous. They’d
perception I had of myself. At the place I grew up, the say, “What happens to the Freedom of Speech?” Well, the
system worked this way: they tell you what to do, and thing is, Freedom of Speech never really was in my dic
you do it. They tell you to memorize the book for dicta tionary until I moved to the U.S. That’s why I never had a
tion, and you do it. They tell you to be nice to everybody, perception of myself. I was a robot, doing routinely what
and you have to do it. everyone else told me to do. I did not think, I did not con
What happens when you don’t? Well, you get template, I did not reason. The closest thing I ever got to
screwed over. One time I was waiting for my friend dur a selfimage was the pride I held when everyone compli
ing brunch. Her teacher often excused the class late into mented on my grades (yes—grades, ain’t that miserable?)
brunch, and I, being bored as I was, complained a little And this pride came into conflict with itself when my
about the teacher. All I said was that it’s annoying how mind finally began to emerge into this world. I was so
she held the students up. The next thing I knew, I was proud that I almost thought everyone else was below me
summoned in the middle of my class by that teacher and (how naïve of me). And then my parents began to slam
got a whole lecture about it. I think if I hadn’t apologized the words “There will always be someone smarter than
to her so many times and continued to rebel her, she you are” into my face. And their words were proven by
would’ve contacted my parents and made a big deal out reality. Through the painful ways I’ve learned that there
of one simple comment. That was the last time I tried to are many more aspects to a person than just the smarts or
rebel the “authorities” until a long time later. grades. And by learning that, I was forced to see people in
a different way. But in order to do that, I must first see telling the world “this is me, a self conscious freak who
myself in a new way. can’t be pretty enough to have friends”. So I was warding
Going to school in America, especially to Monta off people and I wasn’t able to be social. By the time I en
Vista, has chiseled my process of gaining selfconscious tered high school, nothing improved I mean its high
ness. Here I am no longer told what to do. I must think school. This is the place where your insecurities become
clearly about each step that I take, because no one will be your downfall, but luckily high school is also where you
there when I fall. I am responsible for my future. I cannot learn some pretty good life lessons. For me, I learned that
expect the answer to be given to me just like it always people are creatures that are really interested and attracted
had been. I must think. to shiny things. Now shiny can be anything; looks, per
sonality, clothing, posture, etc. I happened to get a bit dim
The system here is obviously different as well: there because I let it get that way. I needed to be shiny and let
is no dictation. Memorization won’t do you any good. If these people know that I’m very fun and funny, a great
you don’t know how to interpret a Ferris wheel trigonom listener and a loyal friend. So what I did was, I changed
etry problem, or don’t understand the significance of Dr. my clothes to show that I am a girl and like to do girlies
T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes, you won’t do well on a test or things but I also changed my persona. I always smiled
quiz. The system I grew up in was meant to force feed the and never excluded anyone from a conversation so that
students with information, whereas in Monta Vista stu they would know that I am very welcoming and don’t
dents are prompted to muse about the answer to things, turn down anyone.
because there isn’t just one definite answer.
I’m not quite sure if I got the whole idea of self im
That is the same way the world works. Aside from ba age but I tried. Now there are still times when things hap
sic laws like one plus one equals two, there are many pen and it causes a kink and destroys your shine. But that
ends and possibilities. Life works out in more than one shiny is always there and that little bit of dimness can al
way, and I cannot judge others with my own way or try to ways be taken out with a little polish. I learned that my
impose it on them. I must see myself separately from the image impacts my life and that it’s important in all parts
others in order to understand them better and connect of life. So if something’s wrong then might as well fix it
with the world better. Sometimes it is difficult and painful now rather then seeing how much of life you’re missing.
to do this, but man, am I glad to say—I’m selfconscious!
“Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your
“No one can make you feel inferior without your reality.” ~Les Brown
consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Let me start off by talking about a friend: she cares
When I was first asked about selfimage I honestly WAY too much about how she looks: everytime she
didn’t know what it meant, but I think I figured out some comes to my house, she spends the whole time looking at
kind of definition. It’s just when the way you look shows herself in the mirror, trying on my makeup, and taking
how you are and want to be perceived. When I was pictures of herself. I really can’t stand her ignorance and
younger my mom always dressed me in such frilly things selfishness sometimes. Whenever I talk to her, she talks
with like HELLA tight braids on and everything pink, I about the same things over and over again. Here is a sam
basically looked like a mini Barbie. And as I got older my pling of our conversation: “Oh my god, it took me three
body changed and so did my style. I started wearing real hours to put on these jeans, and I totally broke my finger
ly dark colors and, basically like a boy. And I noticed that trying to pull the zipper up. And then when I put them on,
people were treating me like a boy and I was just like I realized they were too bootylicious and see through. I
wtf… girl standing here. No one paid any attention to me mean, that’s fine, but I’m not wearing my pink thong, so
because they were too busy looking at my little prissy it took me another three hours to take them off”.
princess friends. So I figured if I dressed like them, I
would get that attention. But the problem was that their And so on and so forth.
clothes made me so self concious and I was like… what But the thing is, I used to admire her confidence: she
do I do? And my whole self esteem just died and there turns heads when she walks, she can talk to anyone, and
were times I hated being friends with these people. Soon I when she goes out, she has a damn fun time, and that’s all
was being ignored and picked on because I was basically that really matters to her.
I love being with her because she is so many things not fat. I know I may even be a little bit skinny. But in
that I’m not. She always lives in the present, instead of al the other twenty five, I don't like my stomach. In fact, I
ways thinking about the future and careers and college, hate it. I hate the way it folds over itself when I bend
like so many of my other studious MV friends do. over, like rolls of fat which don't belong. People tell me
Having such an extreme friend as her has taught me a its just skin. Its natural. If you didn't have it you would
lot of things, especially about selfimage. I realized that be stiff and rigid.
selfimage will determine the person I become. She thinks
she is a confident person, therefore, IS a confident person. I need to feel right. I need to feel healthy. That
When I change my selfimage, I change my personality means I need to be working on it. Doing sit ups. Eating
and behavior. I’ve learned to love my weaknesses and healthy. Eating less. It needs to go away, to get sucked
strengths just as she does: she accepts her ditzinness, but back into the nothingness it came from.
doesn’t let it bother her. And just like her, I’m learning to A week rolls by, and I have committed myself to eat
not let my weaknesses affect my selfimage negatively, ing tiny portions, exercising more than usual, and feeling
and to learn to believe in myself, and not take myself too pretty depressed but motivated the entire way. Then I fi
seriously. nally give in.
It starts with a snack food. Nothing much, just a treat
when I come home, like ice cream or a few cookies. I
think, what the heck? I earned it. And there it goes.
“You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen. But if you
are beautiful at sixty, it will be your own soul’s doing.” I eat my normal amount again, and I feel normal
~Marie Stopes again. I am happy with myself. Nothing was ever wrong
with me. I am healthy and athletic. I have friends, and a
loving family. Life just gets to me, and when it does I
need something to take my mind off of it all, and some
thing to let me disguise my selfpity and remorse. I guess
I don’t really think about how other people think of that is more ugly and unhealthy than any tiny layer of
me: I just try to be the best version of myself I can be. standard skin anyways.
When I was younger, whenever I looked in the mirror,
I always saw a really good, clean girl: no makeup, no
lowcut shirts and tight, bootylicious jeans, and no dyed
hair. I used to despise looking so goody twoshoes be “Be in the habit of experimenting with your clothing so
cause I wanted to stand out, be the center of attention. that you don’t get stuck for life with a selfimage
developed over the course of high school.” ~Marilyn vos
Now I realize that when I do something to make my
self look better, I shouldn’t do it for other people, but for
myself. I should only change my appearance if that’ll
make me feel more confident or better about myself, not
for anyone else.
One thing I have also learned is to not take myself so I learned that people walk with roughly three different
seriously when people make fun of me or tease me, I just gaits. There's chest center, where the person walks with
try to laugh it off and joke about it, and not spend forever their head up high and chest out, proud and strongly
moping around and having a selfpity party. I’ve learned walking to where they want to go. Then there's crotch
to just have fun I only have so long to live!! center, the kind of cocky cowboy walk sagging guys like
to do so that their pants don't fall down. Then there's
head center, where you have your head down, eyes star
ing at your path, and you walk as fast as you can to get to
“I think it’s one of the scars in our culture that we have where you want to go.
too high an opinion of ourselves. We align ourselves I would put myself between head and chest, but most
with the angels instead of higher primates.” ~Angela ly head.
I hate it.
I like to walk fast, to get to class, to lunch, to wherev
er. I hate getting caught behind a group of slow walkers,
For seventy five percent of the time I know that I am
hate the frenzied crisscross of the scramble between
classes, when I am trying my best to weave around the body?” Then why do you think them about yourself? We
slow pokes and keep out of the way of people headed in should be nurtured as an individual but instead we often
the opposite direction. strive to look the same, act the same, and in fact be the
This year I noticed a phenomena I would best de same.
scribed as “walking chicken.” You have two people walk As we grow older, we are trained to seek the perfect
ing on campus, with intersecting paths. One, or both, of body. People with beautiful bodies are the wealthiest,
the pedestrians needs to change their coarse in order to most successful, most wanted, and most happy, right?
avoid a collision. From observation, the smaller, more How can we refute this statement when it is ground into
headcentered person usually gives. The bigger, tougher, our minds everywhere we go. My very own mother was
and less caring of how fast you have to get to wherever anorexic and felt belittled about her own body image. She
you are going, the more people get out of your way. was and still is one of the thinnest people I know. I’m not
Hence why I think I am small, weakish, and frenzied. sure why she had anorexia nor do I understand the pres
People never get out of my way. Even freshmen. Ugh. sures she must have felt. All I know is that we all have
difficulties with accepting who we are and how we look.
Its weird knowing that I have little or no presence, In fact, my grandmother is one of the most selfconscious
having to move myself all the time. I'm tall enough, but I people I know, and this likely only propelled my mother’s
do all the crowd dodging. Its suck a little thing, but it poor self image. My grandmother to this day still believes
makes me pretty selfconscious. I mean, I like myself, what her father would tell her about the leftovers on her
and I think I must be a little imposing, right? plate, “Better to waste then around the waist.” It’s unfor
I guess I need to have less head, and more chest then. tunate, and sadly it just shows that although some things
Hm. And walking slower might help. in our society have turned completely around for the bet
ter. Unfortunately, others have not. In fact I would say in
this era, people are more selfconscious, more insecure,
and more vulnerable than ever before.
“Failure is an event, never a person.” ~William D. Honestly, there are so many problems we could deal
Brown with as young adults. Sadly, a poor selfbodyimage is
very high on the list among many young people. There
are so many pressures from so many avenues that tell us
to improve ourselves. But imagine how happy and em
Dr. Joyce Brothers, a famed American psychologist, powered a young woman or man would be if he absolute
columnist, and author said, "An individual's selfconcept ly loved who they were and how they looked. They could
is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of hu go throughout life with that swagger of radiance and
man behavior: the ability to learn, the capacity to grow amazing selfconfidence. They would enjoy their lives
and change. A strong, positive selfimage is the best that much more and appreciate the wonder in others that
preparation for success in life." But how successfully can much more. Now that is beauty.
we build positive body image while we are being judged
and while we are guilty of comparing our own unique,
beautiful bodies to someone else's? With so many exter
“The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own
nal pressures to be a certain way and fit a certain mold,
system.” ~Robert C. Peale
how is a selfconscious, growing girl supposed to develop
into a strong, confident young woman? And not to men
tion, each category and subcategory of things we must
perfect about ourselves each have ridiculous, contradicto
ry double standards. Don’t be too fat, but don’t be too For years, I have not had a very good selfimage. When I
skinny. Don’t be too tall, but don’t be too short. You must was in middle school, I was a little chubby, even though I
fit into this predetermined spectrum of “normalcy” or played a lot of sports. Especially compared to my team
else. Or else what? I mean who really has control over mates, I was unhappy with my body and the way it com
our bodies? Obviously, it is not us because we care so pared to those around me. Also, my parents used to buy
much about how we look and what other people think me clothes, and they bought me really weird clothes that
about us. So are we really going to fulfill this absurdity? got me teased at school. Guys made fun of me, and no
Ask yourself, “Would I want my daughter, my sister, my girls were interested in dating me, so I was not very self
best friend to be thinking the evil things I think about my confident.
When I went to high school, most of my friends split up and that meaning my image of myself and worth, but the
into groups, and I found myself on the outside of all these way I see myself is shaped by the way the world sees me.
groups, without many friends that would hang out with It shows how weak I am, how vulnerable and close mind
me. To add to this, my skin started breaking out, and I ed I am to other types of beauty. But years of being put
was embarrassed with the way I looked. All the way down of the way I look, and never feeling fully confident
through my freshman and sophomore years, I was unsat with myself has broken me to hate the way I look and feel
isfied with myself and didn’t think anyone would want to inside. I’m not skinny, and I am not one of those girls
date me. Also, I didn’t have any close friends, because that are athletic but think they’re fat and say, ‘omg I’m
my one close friend got mad at me for a reason I still sooooo fat, I need to lose five pounds’. Because if you’re
don’t know, and he doesn’t talk to me any more. At a girl that says you need to lose five pounds, you’re not
times, I got so sad and lonely I contemplated suicide. very fat at all, and pretty much it seems to me like you’re
Junior year, I decided to force myself out of my comfort fishing for compliments. I need to lose like 50 pounds of
zone and try to reach out and make new friends, because I extra weight. I can’t ever get a guy to like me, because
was unhappy with the way my social life was going. I re guys think they need to get a Jessica alba or Angelina
alized that most people are always willing and excited to jolie, that have no fat and are really toned. My friends are
make new friends, and I made a bunch of close friends in all thin and pretty. I remember one time that I had a huge
a short time. I also started pretending to be more self crush on this guy and it seemed like he was kind of liking
confident around girls, and I eventually gained the self me back. I was so excited because it was the first time
confidence that I had been pretending to have. Now, I that I actually had a prospect, or a guy interested in me.
have a good, positive selfimage, and I am very happy But I learned later that he was just using me to get close
with my social life and mental health. to my thinner friend, and that he told his other friends that
he’d never like me. He didn’t say out right that it was
because of the way I look, but I could tell that was what
he was implying. I’m so hurt that the world only sees my
“Selfimage sets the boundaries of individual body and then closes so many doors to me. Personally I
accomplishment.” ~Maxwell Maltz think it’s a crap saying, ‘inner beauty is all that matters’
or ‘not all guys are like that, some like you for your per
sonality’. I’m not usually this whiny, I can be a lot of fun
too, but it seems like no guy will ever see that, because all
they’ll ever see is my extra weight hanging down. It
I hate it how selfimage is constantly ingrained in our hurts so much because even though it sounds cliché
lives. I constantly hear gossip about how other people whenever my relatives come over they always say how I
look. I cringe when people say things like “she’s fugly” have such a pretty face, or beautiful eyes. But, I’m never
or “she’s a butherface.” Recently a friend of mine was told that I’m just beautiful as me. And that hurts, and it
talking trash about another girl’s appearance and I told really damages my self esteem and image. It seems like
her we couldn’t be friends if she cares how other people they’re in a way telling me I’m not good enough as I am.
look. It’s just not right to be mean based upon such a su I’ve tried to lose weight, but food has acted as a comfort
perficial attribute. She got super offended and looked system for me which I’ll admit that is partially my fault.
like I just slapped her or something. I have since severed I’m still trying to handle it, but I hate things like prom or
ties with her, but I still come across tons of people who dances that need me to go shopping for a dress. Because
care so much about something to insignificant.What real I always feel like I look disgusting in any dress I try on,
ly matters lies inside, not outside. and envious of athletic girls who can wear anything and
look good. My self image is horrible, and it’s mainly due
to everyone around me and the way they see me. They
think I’m ugly, so I think I’m ugly. They think I’m ugly
“Listen to your heart above all other voices.” ~Marta because the media tells them that I’m ugly, and that all
Kagan girls who don’t look airbrushed or photoshopped, or
aren’t a size zero are ugly. What a stupid place, where
girls that are beautiful and fit think they’re not worthy
enough for the world because they don’t match up to the
standards society puts on them. I won’t go in to how
I hate my body, I hate the media, I hate how everyone much pain I’ve gone through because of this, or how
puts so much emphasis on the physical beauty of a girl’s many times people have been cruel to me because all they
body. I know this topic is supposed to be on self image, could see was the outer aspect of me. But I want you to
know that I have gone through this. It hurts. And it tight shirts, tight skirts and way too short clothing) and
makes me hate the way I look, and am, and that I’m not okay not all guys like the “hot” girl but a grand majority
strong enough to fight it off for myself. Even if just one of them do, people will assume there is something wrong
person told me that they thought I was beautiful. If they with ME. Which isn’t right at all. I’ve created an ideal
weren’t lying. Or if they truly just said it to me out of self image of myself, I know I’m not perfect, and I know
love, because they saw in me my beauty for who I am and I can improve as a person. But I also respect myself, and
not HOW I am, I’d probably sob tears of happiness, tragic I’m not going to throw myself at guys for their approval
tears of sadness, and tears of alleviating relief. or this kind of cheap worth that society puts on girls with
many men yearning for her. It’s sad that I even had to be
affected by this at all, and that I had to actually think
about what was wrong with me that no guy had wanted
“Be yourself. There is something that you can do better me. Because it’s not my fault, and girls it’s not your fault
than any other. Listen to the inward voice and bravely either. Shut out what books, movies, television series or
obey that.” ~Unknown Author even music tells you. You don’t need to base your values
on getting a boyfriend. Relationships can’t determine
your value, relationships are meant for people who truly
care for each other, and aren’t meant to be trivialized by
society or the media.
I watched on youtube this girl’s really interesting per
spective on her view of romantic relationships and the
way it’s portrayed through the media, stories, books and
how they affects girls and I thought about how it related “Always be a firstrate version of yourself, instead of a
to me. These ways of media are hugely blamed for girls’ secondrate version of somebody else.” ~Judy Garland
bad perception of themselves, and I have to agree with
this. Even if it sounds like a broken record, I think it’s re
ally true. Because even though I am strong and indepen
dent, and I am proud of who I am I still am not invincible Self image. Reputation. It’s the way society sees you, and
to what the media kind of forces down us all. I’ve never at MVHS you definitely need self image. Then again, its
had any boyfriend for as long as I have been alive. And also how you see yourself. You’re self image is what
it’s not because I’m weird, see I think you were probably gives you confidence. In elementary school, adults
thinking that. There’s something wrong with this girl, always told us to “be ourselves.” Yet I didn’t know what
she’s near turning 17 and she hasn’t had a boyfriend y this meant. In my mind, “okay, if you didn’t care about
et? Is she ugly? Overbearing? Too independent? I what other people think of you, why are you walking
won’t blame you, it’s probably first nature now to think around in clothes?” Couldn’t you just walk around
that. Now that girls these days are getting boyfriends naked? But nobody does that because nobody wants to be
younger and younger and are growing up so quickly, weird. Growing up, I had to deal with a lot of self
some even starting in elementary school. I don’t think confidence issues. I didn’t have crazy parents or anything.
it’s because anything is wrong with me, and I see so My issue was just trying to fit in. It always hurt when I
many girls in my grade that are so wonderful. They are overhear people saying “yeah, she’s so weird.” At MV,
sweet, and caring and cute but no guys notice them be the first thing about self image was your GPA, 2100+
cause they don’t show cleavage, or aren’t the flirty type. SAT score, and what college you got into. People talk to
But this isn’t about guys and their inability to see cool you more if they know you’re smart. If you weren’t smart
girls, this is about how us girls become so affected by the then you probably are funny, good looking, or some
media telling us if we don’t have guys chasing after us, variation of that. What happens to the people who don’t
we’re pretty much worthless. I struggled for a while, ask have any of that? Why does society ignore them? Why
ing myself if there really was anything wrong with me. does society ignore me?
Did I push them away? Was I too ugly, or did I dress too
conservatively? But eventually I learned how annoying it It’s all the little things.
was, and basically stopped blaming myself. It’s not about
how I dress, or how I act. It’s about guys chasing after
Sometimes, I wished I could have been at [insert place
the hot girls, it has pretty much nothing to do with me.
here] and be tagged on facebook. Speaking of facebook,
But since I have no guys chasing after me, and I have no
facebook is pretty much a public way of displaying your
interest in guys that chase after the “hot” girl (definition
self image. Who you are.
of hot girl= showing half their boobs, giggling maniacs,
Sometimes, it’s about at least having a friend ask you to wearing that power rangers or lizzie mcguire shirt you
prom or senior ball while everyone in the world seems to had from 2nd grade? You could have gotten a bigger size.
have a date. I question myself: what’s wrong with me?
Am I really that horrible? I’m just saying. Give that kid who sits alone at lunch
underneath the bleachers a chance. Their self image is
Sometimes, its even about just finding a lab group. their self confidence.
Sometimes, it just about feeling wanted.
Society sees me as invisible. They don’t look past the “Go out in the world and work like money doesn’t
misfits and see who I truly am. While self image is matter, sing as if no one is listening, love as if you’ve
defined by how I see myself, that’s shaped by how others never been hurt, and dance as if no one is watching.”
see me. I know what you’re thinking: Why the heck do
you care about what others think? Well. Look down at
yourself. What are you wearing? Why aren’t you still
Starting way back in middle school, i began to slowly thought I was perfect daughter, student, friend. Now,
realize that my appearance would be the one thing that as my final year approaches, I see that my physical
would gain me friends. I began to watch my weight and appearance and my grades are merely an extension of
I became very selfconscious. I wore baggy clothing who I really am. What you look like or your
and never wore any article of clothing that would reveal intelligence does not matter at all. But what does is
who I was under my skin. I worked so hard to change how you act and treat others, your personality, your
the way I looked, to get people to see me as this "skinny character. Those who really care about you don't mind
girl". What also drove my desire to change stemmed your flaws. They know how to pick out the good from
from my parents. They would tell me to eat more but the bad. They can find that needle in the haystack. I
then on the flip side, they told me I needed to go thank those of you out there that have helped me
exercise because I was unhealthy. I eventually went as through the tough times of junior year, through the
far as to stop eating my meals because I needed struggles of not only school but of finding my identity.
desperately to lose the weight so my parents, and
'friends' would accept me. I used to strive to find that perfect image but now, I
really don't mind who I am. As long as you are happy
My appearance on the outside slowly improved. I with yourself, who you want to be doesn't matter.
began to appear skinnier and slowly I shed off the Throw the stereotypes of high school away. Throw the
baggy clothing. I opened myself up a little more but I urge to be 'one of the popular kids' away. Don't fight
still hid my true fears behind the protection of a against who you are. Go with the flow. Your image is
sweatshirt day in and day out. not created by who you strive to be but who you are
On the mental side of my life and my image, I have deep down and those that are around you. Superficiality
desperately strived to maintain a perfect GPA. Yes, we means nothing in the real world. Realize it now than
go to Monta Vista and anything below unweighted later and strive for change. Perfect your image by
is unacceptable. I would fret over my grades to make finding those that care, because there are people out
sure that people saw me as the perfect student with the there who care about you, people who share the same
perfect family the perfect GPA and the perfect feelings as you and people who see you as who you are.
physique. I tried so hard that in the process, I lost all Don't let the false friends hold you back. Go on and
that I worked towards the perfect life. find those true friends. Trust me, I have been through it
and those of you that read this submission, know that I
Now, as my junior year comes to a close, I see that thank you very much for helping me find my true
school is all too much over rated. I have slowly begun identity.
to see the value in taking care of your body and
appreciating who you are mentally and physically. I “Selftrust is the first secret of success.”
now see that those who really care about you could care ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
less about what your weight is or what your GPA is.
They only care about the type of person you are. At the Self image is so much more than what you see in the
beginning of high school, I tried so hard to be who I mirror. In high school, looking good was so important
to me. I am now in my first year in college, and I can who caved in to the pressure and lost herself
tell you, the desire to look good never goes away, but completely. If I could turn back the clock, I would
how you see yourself matters so much more than what choose for others to see an average girl on the heavier
others see. As a kid and throughout middle school, I side of things and for myself to be proud of the person I
was chubby and awkward looking, and I was known am.
around school as being the “nice” girl. Adults referred
to me as “sweet” out of politeness. I couldn’t take it. I Life can still suck.
stuck myself on a strict diet of only one meal a day,
dinner, because that was the only one that my family
watched me eat. I skipped breakfast, I didn’t eat lunch
at school by making excuses such as getting involved in
“A house is a home when it shelters the body and
clubs and meetings or forgetting to bring money to buy
comforts the soul.” ~Phillip Moffitt
something, and I never snacked. It worked, I guess—I
lost 10 pounds and still grew 4 inches and began to
wear size 0 jeans. By my freshman year in high school,
people were always commenting on how different I
looked, and how much better it was. Honestly? I don’t i haven't really wrote in verdadera before because,
even see the difference. As cliché as it sounds, when I well, i guess none were topics i could REALLY write
look in the mirror, I still see a fat girl. When I go about. Selfimage is a huge part of my life, i constantly
shopping, I still pick out clothes that are two sizes too care about what others think, every second of everyday,
big because I have no clue what I really look like. I even at home when around my family. I carefully plan
guess when I go out, guys think I’m attractive because the way i walk, talk, and present myself to others. in the
they always whistle or approach me. I used to take evening in my room, i even sometimes look in the
classes at De Anza, and I had to get a restraining order mirror and pretend i'm holding a conversation, making
on a guy who would not leave me alone. When I got my sure i dont look dumb when i'm actually at school. I
first job my senior year in high school, I was sexually know people who read this will think i'm weird, thats
harassed and had to quit. Having been both ugly and why i choose to remain anonymous, but, I just
pretty, I can’t even tell you which is preferable. When REALLY care how i look at all times, its just me. I take
an ugly girl is nice to strangers, she’s considered sweet. around one and a half hours to get ready: makeup,
When a pretty girl does the same thing, she’s just asking trying several outfits, fixing my hair so it can be
for the wrong kind of attention. In high school, I was perfect...but still when i get to school, sometimes i can
relatively lucky that most people I came into contact feel so insecure, that i constantly look in the reflecting
with are people I’ve known since at least middle school, windows of classrooms, just to make sure i look ok.
and I never really needed to make new friends or meet When i go to the school bathroom, i'm scared to look
new people. But my first year in college, I realized that into the mirror, afraid my hair may be askew and i've
your looks are the only first impression you’ve got. To been walking around like that all day, or my eyeliner
me, that just seems like such a shallow reason to ever faded, or my foundation is uneven.
get to know someone, and I spend a lot of time I honestly believe the way you look is the way people
discerning people’s true motives. Maybe it’s because view you, so thats what i do what i do. When i see 2
I’ve been on both ends of the attractiveness spectrum, people in the hallway giggling to each other, my mind
but beauty really is only skin deep. To me, the person races...were they laughing at me? did they not approve
you are is so much more important than how hot you of my outfit? my hair? I always feel awkward walking
are. It seems like “ugly” people tend to develop in front of the classroom to get a tissue or ask the
amazing personalities because they have nothing else to teacher a question, afraid people will judge the way i
offer, and attractive people never feel the need to do so. walk. I always look at compare people, a applicatoin on
Regardless of my opinions now, my insecurities and facebook, to see where i place, and analyze the people
bad habits have stuck with me for years. I still worry that score higher than i, seeing what makes me different
about not being attractive. I continue to starve myself than they, and what i can do to get to the top ten. My
when I’m stressed. I throw up when I feel like I’ve friends are so pretty, i feel like a modern hunchback of
eaten too much. When I look in the mirror after a full notredame when next to them, which makes me try that
day of not consuming a single calorie, I don’t feel proud much harder. Probably no one at this school takes their
I feel weak. When I’m kneeling on the floor staring into self image to the extreme as i do, but thats the way i am,
the toilet, I don’t feel “purged” I feel desperate. Maybe and thats the way i will be for probably the rest of my
others see me as a pretty girl. I see myself as someone
life. I've never seen so many bones. I can count then one by
one, runnnig my fingers along my ribcage, my hips,
Before, I only saw a nightmare in my head. Now, I see a
“Your body is a temple, littering is strictly prohibited.”
nightmare in my reflection.
I got so lost. I lost myself, and didn't know where to
turn. As my life spun out of control, I blamed myself.
Who else's fault could it be?
I have really bad self image. I feel like it's a product of
high school. I could always lose a couple more pounds, I was strong, healthy, happy, but saw myself as weak
tone up a little bit more, get clearer skin, become and dying. And now, I am just that. Weak. Dying.
smarter, stronger, faster, better. That's how it's been for
as long as I can remember. And honestly, it sucks. It's I throw on a Tshirt that's ten times too big and turn
hard doing anything with that voice in your head away.
constantly letting you know that you are the worst
example of the human species out there. And if not the It hurts too much to look at myself.
voice in your head then the media and popular culture
let you know what's desired, and it's not you. I know it's
not true. I know I'm not as awful as I believe myself to
be, but the hardest part is having a good and realistic “Who has confidence in himself will gain the
self image. So I turned to alcohol, seemed like the easy confidence of others.” ~Lieb Lazarow
thing to do and it worked for a while. Superficially, I
had good self image, but then I became addicted and
after struggling with the addiction and what it had
turned me into I finally quit. Now it was just me and my
wonderful self image again. I've realized though, that 'Oh, my God, Becky. Look at her butt. It is SO big." Sir
I'm not that awful. This sounds lame but every morning Mixalot brings up a very, very sensitive topic with the
I think of one compliment I could give myself and first phrase of his song "Baby got Back." People judge
honestly it works. And I am attaining better self image. you for your looks SO MUCH nowadays. Ever since
Though it's taking a while, it's worth it. fifth grade I've been having these issues. They come
and go, and as soon as I gain confidence about myself
again, I get put down, and go into another phase during
which I think I look like crud every morning, so why
bother trying to look good? It's not like anyone's going
“They can’t hurt you unless you let them.”
to notice, or ask why I look so cruddy. Because I do,
right? Wrong. I don't look that cruddy. Of course, I
have the occasional bad hair day like any other person
out there. But it's not like I look terrible every morning.
It's just that the public opinion matters too much to
I rub my eyes and hope that the vision will go away, but people. If I don't keep up with the
it stays. latest fads, I feel like everyone's staring at me,
wondering why I'm not wearing what I "should" be
I stare into dark, lifeless eyes, and cannot believe these wearing. Should I really give in to peer pressure?
are my own. Probably not.
I don't see the girl I used to be. I don't see the girl I want Then again, if I DO end up updating my look, or doing
to be. something different with my hair, or I just try something
new for a change, guess what happens. I still get talked
I don't know who I am. about. I feel like no matter what I try to do, in order to
Who is this ghost standing before me? make myself feel better about my image, I'm always
doing something wrong. So I guess I've stopped caring
as much. I've decided that as long as I'm comfortable
with what I wear, people around me are going to have to
suck it up. I've made my mistakes. I've bought clothes
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and
that I really didn't like as much as I could have. That
undervalue what they are.” ~Malcolm S. Forbes
Abercrombie and Fitch phase, for example. I totally
went through it. I'd go online shopping when I was
bored, just to see what other clothes I "liked." I never
really realized that I didn't like the clothes, until I just Self image is the way you look at yourself, not what
didn't wear them as much. Then, I started to question the mirror shows you, but what you choose to see. Over
why I bought them. Was it because everyone else had the years, I have learned that you get to choose what
them? Because they were "cool"? Yeah, probably. That people see in you. When you are unsure of yourself that
phase I went through lasted me a year or so. Then, I had is when you give people he right to judge and open
a fallingout with my best friend. She just wasn't yourself up to
making me feel too good about myself, calling me short hurt.
and fat and constantly bragging about herself. I really I have been told that I come off a confident person
didn't want to be friends with her anymore. That and that I seem to be very comfortable in my own skin.
friendship was taking it's toll on my already low self Today, I am proud to say that I am comfortable with
esteem. I'd come to school in stuff I really didn't like, who I am and what I look like, but I don’t think I could
only to get put down by her about how my outfit wasn't have said the same four years ago.
as cool as her was. So one fine day, during fourth I was a short, pudgy little girl who used to spend
period, that friendship ended. That was towards the end my lunches with my nose shoved in a book and long
of seventh grade. I had trouble getting back on track socks poking out of from shoes and peeping from in
through eighth grade, because I couldn't really avoid between the bottom of my jeans and the ankle of my
seeing her everyday. The school was just too small by shoes. I was a first class dork. I was awkward, and
then, because everyone knew each other. I managed to unsure of myself. I constantly looked
change towards the end of middle school; I didn't feel around to see what other people were doing making
the incessant need to go shopping for new clothes, and I sure that I wasn’t actually I am not sure why I would
was content with what I had. Still, though, I was pretty look around. I wasn’t looking to impress anyone or get
selfconcious. anyone’s approval, I was always conscience of what I
did though. For some reason, I did not want to be
Then, high school started. I saw people who weren't noticed. Yet, at the same
scared to dress 'out of the box'ish. I saw people who time I felt myself becoming invisible.
didn't complain that they were too fat, too skinny, too Although my transformation happened almost two
tall, etc. I've learned that people are capable of being and a half years ago, it wasn’t until this year that I
different. So, why couldn't I be different too? I started realized that it was all in my head. I learned two things,
dressing the way I like to. I started wearing what I one, no one had thought of my as awkward, and two, in
wanted to wear, and my peers have learned to accept me a way, I haven’t really changed at all. I met some old
for who I am. I still do get talked about behind my friends from sixth grade, and people who were only the
back, I'm sure of it. However, I really don't care. Those in class friend types, and we were talking about the
few who talk good ole days. Immediately I got embarrassed, and said
about me, they've got to learn that I'm not going to be oh my god, I was sooooo weird back then! I can’t
like them. Because I don't want to. believe so awkward. To my surprise, none of them had
felt that way about me. They said that I was just shy, not
Having that mindset has changed me SO MUCH, in the a weird o or anything. I was beyond shocked, I always
past seven months. I've really gotten to enjoy life more, thought I was just down right strange. I thought I was
because I just don't value the opinions of those who feel one of those people the hovered around, in that irritating
the need to criticize me behind my back. If you want to way, not knowing what to do.
tell me something, tell it to my face. I'm through with That really got me to thinking. What changed then?
caring. I think I look Was I a different person? Did my likes change? Did my
decent right now, and if people don't, too bad for them. personality change? Not really. I loved to read, and I
They've got to learn to suck it up, and stop judging me still do. Any free time I have you can find my nose
based on what I look like. poked in a book! I still do the same things, have the
same friends, the same opinions, the same beliefs. What
in the world happened. It still bothers me because I am
not entirely sure what changed my outlook, and why happened.
people now think I am so much more confident. But I “You are what you eat, from your head to your
can definitely say it has a ton to do what I think about feet.” Too bad that hasn’t come true. My selfimage is
myself. That summer I went running with my dad and still waiting for those dozens of donuts to show up on
the year after I joined track and cross country. I was my thighs.
not any good, but I got in shape and it boosted my
confidence. I began to shape my likes and my dislikes
according to myself not according to the person next to
me. I began to see the changes in myself and I guess
“Work hard to create in your children a good self
people saw them also. People really see you through
image. It’s the most important thing you can do to
your own eyes.
ensure their success.” ~Unknown
I am not sure what caused the change, but what it
was, I am so glad it did because looking back now I do
not think I want would want to be that person who
always second guessed herself.
It wasn’t until just recently that I started to wear jeans.
Why? Because they made me look fat, that’s why.
Whenever I saw myself in a pair of jeans, all I could see
“Your chances of success in any undertaking can was my thick thighs, overflowing stomach…do I have
always be measured by your belief in yourself.” to say the rest? In such a skinny school like Monta
~Robert Collier Vista, who could go around looking like such a dork?
It wasn’t like my group of friends were all self
conscious about our image; actually we were all the
opposite. None of us really cared about what we looked
like at school and enjoyed the freedoms that came with
So I’m skinnier than the average girl. Does that it…except me.
automatically mean I am anorexic? No. Does that mean I tried everything, from dieting to exercising with
I barf up everything I eat? No. Do people still think no effect (partly due to my parents’ strong refusal for
those crazy things? Yes. skipping meals during school days and my laziness) and
I am tall and skinny. I have no issues with this. The I was tired of trying to be skinny.
people who know me know I eat like crazy—in fact I It was the day I realized that I would just live my
eat more than the average person. Because my So I’m life without
So I’m skinnier than the average girl. Does that jeans that my friend put out a dare…
automatically mean I am anorexic? No. Does that mean In class, our teachers passed back our test from a
I barf up everything I eat? No. Do people still think week ago. My friend and I promised each other that the
those crazy things? Yes. person who got the lower score on the test needed to do
I am tall and skinny. I have no issues with this. The a dare. I cautiously look at my test score…we
people who know me know I eat like crazy—in fact I exchanged papers, and how could I have guessed, I lost.
eat more than the average person. Because my A dare as promised, I asked my friend what she
metabolism is super fast, I am able to eat so much and wanted me to do. The dare was simple, wear jeans the
not gain a pound. The not gaining any weight though, next day.
has sparked lots of controversy with That night, I was dreading waking up in the
other people. I have often been called anorexic and my morning, walking to my closet and wearing jeans as
body is a constant comparison of how its as thin as promised. Morning came too early, and like a good
those Brazilian models we see everywhere. friend should be, I had my faithful jeans on.
At one time, a bulimia scare went around when I had My friend looked over me once and said, “You
mistakenly told a group of people that I spent my whole look skinnier then usual…” And she left it at that.
break barfing. The truth was that I had been sick over I felt like there were three dots hanging over my
break. People started telling me that I was barfing to head. I couldn’t believe my ears. I felt like I had
keep my “skinny” status or that my body could not hidden myself for nothing. My body, even though it
handle a lot of food. First off, wasn’t perfect, wasn’t so bad after all.
there is no skinny status. Secondly, my body can handle The moral of the story? ...Figure it out yourself.
my food—just watch me at brunch and lunch. And
finally, it is not like I asked to be this skinny; it just
overweight, veering dangerously close to obese.
Again, the summer from 9th to 10th. I decided
to make a change, and well, I got some new shorts, and
I consciously tried to smile more. But weight wise? No
change. Not even thinking that I had to participate in
“Your selfimage is your pattern! Every thought has an the Dance Showcase in March made me more motivated
action visualized. Every activity belongs to a pattern. to do anything throughout the entire year.
You identify with your pattern or thought. Your But now, my literal selfimage is stopping me
patterns lead your life.” ~J.G. Gallimore from doing things, however superficial they might be. I
“don’t swim” – even though I swam competitively for 9
years. I haven’t worn anything except pants or jeans to
school since my mother stopped picking out my clothes
I have never been comfortable with myself. for me. I only recently started wearing dresses, and
My first memories of a public setting, school, only because I had to. I flipped out when I learned that
involve arguments with somebody else – a teacher, a 8th grade graduation meant that you had to wear a dress.
student, a parent, anybody and everybody. These were At the moment, I’m more comfortable with my
just petty arguments, just me not knowing when to shut personality than I have ever been. But I am not
up. comfortable with my body, and that is where my happy,
Then there was 1st grade. Did you know that 1st cheerful personality is just a façade.
grade – heck, even in preschool – there is drama? I’d like to change the image of myself, thus
Bitching about somebody else (of course, that’s not changing my selfimage. It’s not that I just want to look
what it was called), and getting all cliquey. I was never good, it would just be nice to run around in the park,
on the “in” side, and I was always perceived as barefoot in the summertime with friends, without
somebody to be left on the outside. And that’s how I thinking about how uncomfortably warm jeans are in 90
ended up perceiving myself, as somebody who was on degree weather, and without having to stop for breath
the outside and nothing would change that. and then just slow down to a walk, while everybody
So in middle school, I decided to change, my else is in front of me. It would be nice to go dress
personality. At the time, I hadn’t too directly correlated shopping and not have to worry about length and waist
my physical selfimage to how I felt others perceived and fit just because all the good stuff is too small. It
me and how I wanted to change my image, but I had an would be nice to go to prom next year and be
inkling, from the periodic insults thrown my way about comfortable with myself. I just wish that I didn’t have
how I looked and how I dressed. So I basically got to be so superficial about it.
more friends and had a fun time and all.
From 7th to 8th grade, a girl who I had seen
grow up alongside me since kindergarten went through “The image is one thing and the human being is
a momentous change. She grew taller, naturally, and another…It’s very hard to live up to an image, put it
also lost weight, got a new hairstyle, got a new that way.” ~Elvis Presley
wardrobe, and with that, a new happiness. She seemed
more confident of herself, and happier to me.
I wanted that change, so, so bad. So from 8th to
9 grade, or junior high to high school, I decided that I
would make that change. Get fit, get some nice clothes At high school, selfimage means a lot to me, and to
to match my new looks, be peppy. Well, the change everyone else despite what they say. I was hanging out
didn’t occur, and I guess I would attribute it to my being with some friends during lunch, and suddenly saw an
lazy for a straight 90 days. I wore clothes that I thought old friend; someone I had stopped talking to in the past
looked nice, and in retrospect, I looked fat, just like year. I went up to him and asked how he was, and most
usual. importantly, how he was feeling. My friend had been
There were many points where I thought to picked on incessantly throughout elementary school,
myself, “I wish I could be anorexic.” I know that it was and middle school. Talking to him, he described himself
wrong to think that, I know that it is wrong to think that. as “fat,” and as a “loser,” often angry with some of his
But being anorexic seemed like a good way to deal with former tormentors. Hearing him release his feelings,
being fat. Sure, I wasn’t obese, but I wasn’t fit, and and his surprising description of himself, I realized how
those internet BMI calculators pointed me at the edge of important someone’s selfimage is. Your selfimage
should represent who you are, and your overall view on and I've accepted that. But even when I attempt to make
life. Knowing my friend for a very long time, I knew myself feel pretty with makeup or really cute clothes, it
him as a smart, interesting, and funny guy to be with. It seems to go unnoticed by people. I'm not fishing for
ripped me apart to see how the cruel, shallow remarks compliments, but a few “You look cute today!”s would
of my peers destroyed this, slowly reducing him a really do a lot for me. Does that mean I'm weak and
different guy. I talked with him for the rest of lunch, insecure? Probably. I wish I could really carry myself as
trying to get his spirit up. He brushed off my concerns, a confident woman who believes in herself because I
saying, “all right” , and “nothingS know that I have a lot going for me. I've been trying
Wrong” . We both knew who was right. The next time I recently, as college creeps up, to love myself for me. I
saw him, he walked up to me and smiled at me, helping wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and say
me understand my own selfimage, and his as well. outloud to myself one thing I like about myself –
sometimes it's a physical trait, or sometimes it's an
internal one. It's helped me a little, but I have a long
way to go. I know that there are things I can do
“Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the
physically to make myself feel more beautiful like
culture.” ~Allen Ginsberg
losing weight, but I've tried that and I just haven't seen
results. I know that's being skinny isn't a quality for real
beauty, but I feel like if I did lose weight, my internal
pride would boost and I would be able to see myself as
as guys, we are taught to be big tall and muscular. well, beautiful. Then I could carry myself with the confidence
to make a short story short..i am short (pun intended). i I've always wanted to. It's so hard, though. But I'm
struggled with this for SO frikin long, and i still do. how trying.
do you ask a date to a dance when she's taller than you?
shit how can you even like a girl if she's taller than you?
these are questions that still remain to be answered in
my mind at least. nobody has ever made fun of me for
“The person we believe ourselves to be will always act
being short, of which im grateful, and I mean im not
in a manner consistent with our selfimage.” ~Brian
THAT short at all...im not legally a midget or
something. Im just not tall, because im the same height
or shorter as many girls. but if midgets can cope with it,
and by having much more severe height disparities, why
can't i? easy to say, harder to do though..sigh..off to
drink another cup of milk. apparently guys can grow till Each year I go to the doctor’s office to get a physical,
their early 20s so im still holding onto hope. which includes finding out my height and weight.
According to my doctor, I am shorter and heavier than
most girls my age, which automatically puts me at risk
for being “unhealthy.” Every time I go, I get asked the
same questions; “How often do you exercise? How
“There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the
many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat each
level of selfesteem, the more likely one will be to treat
day? Have you ever considered dieting?” I'm not
others with respect, kindness, and generosity.”
stupid; I know that if I were skinny I would never have
to hear questions like these.
As I turned twelve, my dad simultaneously
started calling me “chubby” and ridiculed me for eating
I've always had a really hard time accepting myself. I'm too much. This caused me to spiral down into a
a really happy person and there's nothing in my life that frightening and dangerous obsession with food as I tried
causes me to be stressed to the point where I consider to look like the girls in the magazines. I eliminated
doing anything that most people in high school gossip desserts and carbs, threw up after eating, ingested
about. But I guess I've just never been able to look in enough laxatives to kill a small child, exercised until I
the mirror and think that I look beautiful. I've read almost lost consciousness, ate less than 300 calories a
enough books and talked in enough classes to know that day, told myself I was fat, ugly, and worthless and
being beautiful doesn't mean having modelgood looks, needed to change, but nothing worked. Even when I
lost weight I wasn’t happy and just wanted to get
thinner. It took me over four years of dieting to figure that was my self image.
out that I needed a new strategy. By this time I was so
full of selfhatred that I began cutting my wrists, and i think its hard these days, where its like the media tries
later, contemplating suicide. to control how we should think to the point where
we're almost not thinking at all. at the same time, it
Thankfully I still cared enough about myself to leads to more insecurity regarding ourselves. i wish it
reach out for help, and ended up in therapy, which truly could all change, for all of us. that we recognize how
was the best thing for me. My therapist actually had an we're all great and different in our own way, as cliche as
eating disorder when she was younger and knew exactly it sounds. but with all the outside pressures, its hard to.
what I was going through. She taught me that all people in a way i guess you could call it a "raisin in the sun";
have value, no matter how much they weigh and that not for dreams, but for people.
“the way our society objectifies women's bodies is just
I learned that the media uses painfully skinny
women as models of what is desirable because the body
type is so unattainable. People will diet, gain back
weight, diet again, then gain back the weight......you get
the picture. We've been tricked into thinking that thin is
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity,
the best way to be because it is beneicial to the diet
wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that
industry. Does that make you angry? I’m furious.
reveals the human spirit.” ~e.e. cummings.
“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be
happy to live with all your life. Make the most of
yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility I wish I had a better understanding of what I thought of
into flames of achievement. ~Golda Meir myself. My thoughts towards myself have turned to a
series of negative opinions and false judgments. What
others say have impacted everyone of us, whether its
how ugly we look with our hair a certain way or just
simply what we wear. I have learnt to teach myself to
i feel i've spent my whole life hating myself. its con ignore most of what others say because it shouldn't
flicting i feel that people should figure that out and re mean much. But just this week I found out my parents
assure me that i shouldn't hate myself, and yet i don't are getting divorced. My life style is going to
want people to know that i'm one of the most insecure dramatically change if this process proceeds and I cant
people on earth. i've spent a lot of time evaluating self help but listen to what comments people will make. I've
image; what people assume of what you think of your built a view that what others think about me matters to
self, and what you as an individual think. i feel that i me more than I myself does. This is probably the
grew up thinking i was never good enough because of reason I lost my relationship that meant something to
what my parents would tell me whenever they were me. This is why I lose almost everything....I’m just so
home. that mentality led to numerous breakdowns in el insecure it impacts myself in the worst way possible.
ementary and middle school, and i was later diagnosed
with depression. it was embarrassing, you know, when
you're pulled out of your class to go to the counselor ev
“But the real secret to total gorgeousness is to believe
eryday, and everyone knows why. my friends didn't
in yourself, have selfconfidence, and try to be secure in
want to talk to me because they didn't understand why i
your decisions and thoughts.” ~Kirsten Dunst
was cutting. i felt like they didn't understand why i hat
ed myself, why i wanted to be perfect, why i wanted so
many things that seemed unattainable. it took me 5
years to get out of that rut, and its sad that so many peo
ple go through the same things i did (not to sound so Although I think it is absolutely great that a more curvy
selfcentered). body is being advocated as beautiful, being a naturally
petite individual, it puts me in kind of an awkward since that was the only time I wouldn't feel hunger or
position. I'm not sure what to think when petite bodies exhaustion. Nevertheless, this lifestyle made me feel
are credited as unnaturalwhat does that make mine? accomplished and I continued to live like that.
I've never altered my eating habits or done anything Eventually, I couldn't stand eating so little and I had
other than what was the healthiest for me. It is dropped a few pounds, so I figured I'd begin to eat a
frustrating when I tell my loved ones that I sincerely little more. Staring into that empty bowl of ice cream, I
think they are beautiful no matter what their body type, felt guilty. I wanted it out of my body, but how? Even
only find to find my words are discredited solely though I told myself I'd never do this (I felt like it was
because I do have naturally a petite body. I definitely cheating), I went and vomited it out. That became my
agree that it is a problem that petite body types are new safety if I had failed my own test of minimal
favored by the media, but I also think that it is very eating.
important to ensure no body types are left behind in an Oh, and did I mention that the entire time I was doing
effort to love others equally. this to myself, I refused to acknowledge it as an eating
disorder? That along with lying to my family and
friends, I was making the biggest lie to myself and
pretending what I was doing was normal? It was around
“Relentless, repetitive self talk is what changes our
this time that I came across an issue of Verdadera and
selfimage.” ~Denis Waitley
began reading it. I learned that there were people going
through problems like mine.
And that's when I decided to believe it I had a
problem. I guess all I needed was someone else to go
The world of eating disorders is a cycle. A trap. An and admit their eating disorder was a problem before I
addiction... that I let myself enter. could myself. So now I'm telling you this: I had a
problem. I wasn't eating enough and I was purging
I find it odd that the people who "inspired" me to get myself, and I had a problem. Go back and read the first
so obsessed with body image were a few close friends, sentence, where I implied that getting eating disorders is
and not the typical media (who are literally shoving a cycle someone says she's fat, another hears and says
images of skin and bone in our faces). Anyway, at one she's fat, then another hears and says she's fat. Maybe
point, some of my friends who I thought were we can start a new, different cycle. I had heard someone
significantly skinnier than me became so preoccupied admit their eating disorder, then I acknowledged my
with their weight, saying they were fat, talking about own and began to solve my problem. Now if you may
how little they ate, and so on. It puzzled me because I have fallen into the first cycle of getting an eating
would have never labelled them as "fat". In fact, before disorder, I hope you can fall into this new one. Like I
then, I would have never labelled anyone as "fat". I did, you might have an eating disorder, but you're not
never payed attention to people's bodies, until I made alone. Please stop and get help, before it gets any
my first "fat" label to myself. worse. I know you have it in you to stop, and maybe
once you do, you can pass your story onto someone
Suddenly, wanting to getting skinnier was everything else, and that person will continue the cycle of inspiring
to me. First thing in the morning, I'd wake up and others to tackle their problem. Eating disorders are
exercise. Then eat a little snack... sometimes. Then go going around like a disease to the mind, but unlike some
out on a run, come back and watch TV while doing sit diseases, this has a cure. Take it.
ups. I'd leave to sports, bike home, crash on the couch, Back to my story... I layed down in bed and stopped
and lie about how much I ate. The number of hours I to think. I had hit the weight I wanted to be, and what
spent exercising determined how much I would actually now... Nothing else had changed. I didn't suddenly
eat for dinner, but at that time, my dinner would never become gorgeous or wellliked or anything. Nothing
be a lot. Those were my typical summer days. If my changed. All I did was torture myself to become what I
friends wanted to go out and eat, I'd reluctantly go, thought some of my friends considered the ideal image.
pretend the food was healthy, then get really frustrated And you know what else I realized? I never cared what
with myself at the end of the day. I went on like this for they looked like, and they never cared what I looked
a really long time (I don't even know how anymore), but like. I don't know why I had felt so accomplished with
honestly, it was terrible. Exercising so much was this eating problem, because I feel like I could have
lonely, I was always thinking about how much I wanted focused all my energy on something more productive,
to eat some ice cream, and I just wanted to sleep 24/7, maybe something actually beneficial to the world.
Yeah, that blows. But what isn't so bad is that I was able
to stop my eating problem immediately. I slowly gained and I want it to. I have a sport tomorrow, but I'm going
back a lot of my weight and brought back my appetite. to eat because food is good and I need energy.
The time I used to spend exercising nonstop was now I'm not thinking about my body image.
spent with my friends. And that has made me so much And no one else is thinking about my body image
more happier than losing a few pounds ever could. either.
I just had a bowl of pasta. It's going through my body
Maureen R. Johnston, MFT
I realize now as I look back that my selfimage was pretty murky until I graduated from college. It’s as
though I was always defined by what was outside of me. I was just one of the many Johnston kids, seen
by others as my older siblings’ quirky little sister. Then, as I got into high school, I became the quieter,
reserved friend of more vibrant girls. While I had always gotten good grades, I didn’t see myself as
studious or particularly hardworking. I was not involved in any sports or extracurricular activities, so
didn’t view myself as an athlete or group member. I knew a lot of people, but didn’t really belong to any
particular ‘clique’, so couldn’t even see myself as a ‘jock’ or ‘stoner’ or ‘nerd’. I’m not sure how much I
even perceived myself as a distinct individual, other than having a vague sense of feeling different than
my family and friends.
Since I lived at home and went to a commuter State college, I didn’t get the opportunity to really see who
I was and what I was like as an individual until I got in my car one April morning and drove across the
country all by myself. As I headed west on I80 through the cornfields of Iowa and Nebraska, I had a lot
of time to think about who I was, what I wanted in my life, what was important to me. I think I began to
realize as the miles grew between me and ‘home’ that I could define myself. Part of me knew the only
way I would ever be able to really see through all the fog of other people’s perceptions and definitions of
me was to go 3000 miles away. I had to go some place where no one knew anything about any of my
older siblings, my background, where I’d come from, or who I was. By the time I pulled up to the
Yosemite Park and Curry Company employee office on May 1st, to begin a summer job in Curry Village,
I felt ready to begin the process creating my own selfimage.
What is selfimage?
Selfimage is how you perceive yourself. It is made up of numerous impressions, experiences and
reactions. Our selfimage is closely related to and influenced by, but is not the same thing as our self
esteem. Selfesteem is how we feel about ourselves. How we see ourselves impacts us on a number of
different levels. If we view ourselves as lacking, incompetent, or insignificant, our self confidence is
going to be low and our sense of self worth damaged. The manner in which we carry ourselves, approach
novel situations, and cope with life’s challenges are all directly affected by our selfimage.
I keep thinking about the children’s story of the Ugly Duckling. The ugly duckling’s selfimage was that
he was different from the other ducklings, and this difference was defined as ugly by the other ducklings.
He came to see himself as ugly (his selfimage), and he felt lonely, sad, and of less value or importance
than the other ducklings. His self esteem plummeted, and he hid from the other ducklings. It was not until
time went by and he grew up that he saw other swans. He still saw himself as different from the other
ducks, but now the difference had taken on a whole new meaning, and as his perception changed, his
feelings also underwent a transformation.
How selfimage develops
How we perceive ourselves is strongly influenced by how others perceive us. If we are fortunate enough
to be born into a family that wants us and sees us as a wonderful new addition to be loved, nurtured, and
treasured, we have a much better foundation upon which a positive, healthy selfimage can build. As we
go through infancy and childhood, we are deeply impacted by the messages, both overt and subtle, that we
receive from our parents and siblings. Through their words, tone of voice, expressions, and actions, they
are consciously and unconsciously defining and labeling us. We are told we are good or bad, smart or
dumb, weak or strong, bookish or rambunctious, reliable or irresponsible, a neat freak or a slob, lazy or
The school environment adds another level of complexity to the development of our selfimage. So much
depends upon how well we fit in. Our teachers send us signals about our intellectual abilities, our
appearance, our behavioral appropriateness. The other students want to be our friend or shun us, they like
our clothes or mock our style. We see ourselves as smart when the answers come easily or stupid when
we can’t seem to grasp it. Our athletic skills, our grades, our actions, and our social skills are all compared
to, contrasted with, and judged by the group.
At the same time, we have to consider what nature has endowed us with. We are all born with our own
particular body, brain, and basic temperament. Some people are just naturally more resilient and less
negatively impacted by the effects of external messages, while others are much more sensitive and easily
damaged by how they are treated by people and events.
By the time we are adults, the foundation for how we see ourselves is set and for some people doesn’t
really change much over the years. However, for most of us, our selfimage can and does go through
shifts, alterations, and sometimes even dramatic transformations. I have a client with whom I have
worked, on and off, for several years. She came to me struggling with an image of herself as incompetent,
unattractive and unable to make friends. She described growing up with a very critical mother and a father
who saw conversation as an opportunity for interrogation. They moved around a lot and it was difficult
for her to make friends in the new schools. She did poorly academically and was placed in the remedial
groups. She was compared to her academically talented brother and labeled a slow learner by her parents
as well as the schools.
By the time she walked into my office in her mid30’s, she was desperately lonely and felt trapped in a
life of quiet despair. Through a lot of hard work and numerous setbacks, over the years she has been able
to redefine her selfimage and now sees herself as competent, intelligent, and a good mother to her two
sons. She started taking classes in child development at De Anza to help with her understanding of her
children. She was astonished to discover that she actually did well, went on to receive her Bachelor’s at
Santa Clara University, and is now enrolled in a Master’s program. She no longer sees herself as stupid or
slow, and has found ways to better her relationship with her (still overly critical, demeaning) mother.
I was saddened, but not really surprised by how many of the student entries for this topic were from girls
distressed by the shape/size of their bodies. We live in a culture that places a huge emphasis on physical
appearance, with a narrowly defined range of what is considered attractive. For a variety of reasons, it is
easy to succumb to the notion that our body image is our most important feature, while it really is only
one part of who we are.
I am once again drawn to thoughts of the ugly duckling. I can’t help but think about how it would have
been for him if he had been born near a pond with a wide diversity of other birds all around. He could
have seen that baby birds came in all sizes, shapes and colors. He would have realized that some birds
swim, some fly, and each have a distinctive voice. He would have known that all were loved, valued and
had a contribution to make to the community. Maybe he wouldn’t have had to go through the trauma of
feeling ridiculed and unlovable. Then it wouldn’t have mattered whether he was a duck, a swan, a coot or
Ways to improve a negative/poor selfimage
My client was able to make such a marked improvement in her selfimage because she really wanted to
and she worked hard at it. Therapy was very helpful for many reasons; it helped her see, examine,
challenge, and ultimately discard old messages and replace them with a more accurate, realistic sense of
who she really is. It gave her the support she needed to take risks, and provided her with a reality check
on her progress. Meditation, exercise and school were also part of the formula for her.
While psychotherapy may not be the answer for everyone, it can help facilitate real change in many
people’s lives. The recognition that how you see yourself may be having a negative effect on your life is
the first step toward becoming who you want to be. This desire to improve your selfimage is a key
ingredient in viewing yourself in a more positive, healthy, and realistic light. There are many websites and
selfhelp books that provide suggestions on improving your selfimage and self esteem. Here’s a brief list
of some things you can do to alter your view of yourself:
• Practice positive thinking first pay attention to your internal thoughts to identify the negative messages
you’re giving yourself. Then come up with positive self messages that counter and oppose the bad self talk.
• Focus on the positive stop obsessing about your negative traits and find ways to highlight what’s good
• Give self compliments just as a couple of the student entries suggested, start each day with a compliment
or expression of gratitude. Put postit’s with self affirming statements on your mirror where you’ll see them
• Build in success put yourself in situations in which you can do well and feel good about yourself.
• Foster positive relationships find people who appreciate you for who you are, who care about your feel
ings, thoughts, and dreams. Avoid those who pull you down.
• Seek support don’t do it all alone. You’re not the only one struggling with whatever your issues are; talk
• Get help if you’re dealing with significant issues like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance
abuse, selfinjurious thoughts and behaviors, etc. talk with an adult who can help you get the professional
assistance you need.
Yes, I definitely began to develop a more distinct sense of myself throughout the summer I spent in
Yosemite Valley, and it has continued to evolve and change as the years have gone by. With each new
role I take on, I find new strengths and limitations, rise to some challenges and fail at others, all along the
process of learning about myself continues. I expect my selfimage to undergo many more alterations be
fore I reach the end of my journey.
Try to remember that this is just one stage in your life, and no matter what you are going through right
now, there is much more for you to experience as you go through the years.
About the writer
Maureen Johnston is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. She provides psychotherapy
and psychoeducational evaluations to teens, kids and adults. She develops and conducts social skills
lessons to elementary students. She is the mother of a Monta Vista student and spouse of a Monta Vista
teacher. More information can be found at www.maureenjohnston.com.
Maureen R. Johnston, MFT
For more information, go to
Resources from the Verdadera Staff
This site contains information on what self esteem is and how it effects us on a daily basis. Most
importantly, it has information how we can boast our self esteem and feel good about ourselves.
MayoClinic.com on SelfEsteem
On this site, you may find information about how to boast your self esteem and be happy with yourself.
The SelfEsteem Workbook –by Glenn Schiraldi
The workbook is based on guiding the reader through a set of exercises help develop a strong self esteem.
The self esteem is gained through learning the importance of thoughts, emotions, physical health and
these factors impact someone’s selfesteem.
Help line from the Bill Wilson Center (408) 2430222
The Bill Wilson Center is a nonprofit organization that works to improve youth mental health. Center
staff are open to talk to youth about problems that may trouble them such as low selfesteem
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