I’m posting this week some words I have written not so long ago, inspired by the book Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis. She is an amazing Lifestyle expert, creator of TheChicSite.com and CEO of Chic Media company. A powerful author who tells it like it is and exposes the lies we believe about ourselves. In this book, she tackles her own lies she believed about herself one by one to reveal the frauds that they were.
This here is a chapter I don’t want to write and is something I’ve never really shared. This is a chapter that I’m starting to realize has defined my life, for the worse. But only by being honest about it can I help myself and others fight the right fight. And I know there will be judging but I'm good, go ahead. So here it goes.
“Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business. Let me say that again for the people in the cheap seats.” ― Rachel Hollis Girl, Wash Your Face
I can now say with confidence I’ve left physical appearance define me throughout my life. And by that I mean I've let others' perception of me define whom I should be. And I am so glad to be growing older and not relying on what, I thought, was expected of me anymore. Now when someone asks me if I am famous or if I was a model (note the ‘was’ and not ‘am’- which is awesome) I revel in delight and happily lie-ish that I was. Trust me, it shortens the conversation to lie a little on that one. When I was younger though, those almost daily questions would stab me each and every time like a dagger. Are you a model, which in itself is a huge compliment, killed me a little bit more and more inside, at every occurrence. Are you a model when your height wouldn’t allow it and have based your entire self-worth on whether you’d be one, a successful one, is a life sentence. A broken record playing you’re not good enough, you’re fat, you don’t fit, you’re too tall. I chose to believe the lies that were thrown at me each day about my height. Passing comments, excruciating shopping experiences, entertainment industry standards, all those intricate little signs that made me feel like a fraud altogether left me lost and victimized.
I have learned to develop my best coping skills early on: over-eating, unpleasant behavior
(notice I’m not being specific on that one here, yet) and often hiding. Hiding at home, finding excuses not go out, hiding behind ill-fitting clothes. Sometimes too tight or too small, I realize now this was a punishment I’d inflict on myself for being “too fat” (meaning not underweight) and for being so tall I couldn’t fit in anything pretty, or so I thought. Hear me, I was punishing my body for being too tall for what society accepted. I was punishing my body by wearing men’s clothes, comfortable yes but ill-fitting and downright pitiful. I was trying to make myself disappear, believing in the lie that I was, simply put, big.
After a year of unhealthy starvation to model, I lost my marbles and started eating. Why be skinny if anyways I wouldn’t make it as a model for being too tall? Why go through the trouble of unnatural eating behavior, where I would faint walking to castings in the cold streets of Milan not having enough fuel for my body? Even then, 25lbs lighter than I am today, my bony yet athletic body didn’t fit in the clothes or the shoes, so why be skinny? I turned to food as a comforter hiding from the outside world. Many of my family members are overweight, so weren't the cards dealt for me too? I didn’t have a choice, did I?
I put myself on a course of rapid growth, filling my body with food and shame. In all, moving to NYC, I gained 35lbs. Thankfully, with time, I lost some of the weight over the years to allow me to model and act a little, but always with the secret apology about me that I'm 'too tall.'
"Comparison is the death of joy, and the only person you need to better than is the one you were yesterday." - Rachel Hollis
It shows in the acting jobs I accepted both in France and here in the US, always being cast as the Tall Blonde or the American girl (back when I worked on and championed a believable american accent:-), ending up on Tall fetish websites [which my Podcast guest Katja Bavendam from My Giant Life can relate to and we talk about it in her episode.]
It is impressive the lies that we can believe in. Still today, I have moments when I am convinced that had I been one inch or two shorter, my life would have been utterly and entirely different. Still today, I struggle not to believe sometimes that those extra two inches have, for a very long time, ruined my self-esteem, my worthiness and my pride. Perhaps this will be a life-long battle that will be my cross to bear, but at least now I can say it. I can look at my problems in the eye and say I see you. I can tell them I hear you, I can tell them I finally understand you. And by painfully sharing the most inner failings with you, I hope to lift the weight off of my shoulders and alleviate the power these problems have over me once and for all. Your listening ear, even if you’re judging, can be my salvation because I know now that my head can’t handle it on its own. There is no space in my brain for storing my insecurities and trying to solve them in my mind. I need an absolution from the shared words and with this, I hope more than anything to help others if they feel the same way.
Living with the enemy is shameful, tiring and even perhaps lazy. It takes courage to live a full life, a life of intend and sacredness and I intend to do just so. Yes there will be downfalls, yes, I will slip. But knowing that I can face my truths in power is a big shift already, one that gives me a glimpse to happiness I’m starting to feel.
I share this story because anyone who is struggling with identity must understand it is a choice to believe the lies. You are in control of how the world affects you. And yes, I still get annoyed sometimes that i'm so much taller than most people on all the pictures we take in this world we live in. But I take it with humor now and don't let it affect me, I'm too busy for that anyways. That's why I am SO inspired by many of my podcast guests who just wear those damn heels, stand tall and proud and to hell with the rest of them.
I don't think I'll ever reach that point but I've come to realize that I actually don't think I want to, which is fine too just as long as it's acknowledged. I have reached a point of delightful comfort with my body, still working slowly on the comfortable wardrobe (who knew being fashionable takes so much effort!?) and I'm looking forward to sharing all my good findings on the THINGS page.
Nothing will validate my courage for honesty more than knowing I have helped you feel less alone in reaching for the stars. So DM me, email me, let’s chat. I want to hear from you.
And follow Rachel Hollis, she’s simply awesome. My polar opposite, tiny bit of a woman, soccer-mom perfection who shows you the chaos on the inside. Of course, as with any motivational star, you take in what you want to take in. She's an awesome inspiration and it would be SO fun to have her on the podcast. There, I’ve said it.