I care about women's rights. I despise non-consensual objectification, and all the bullshit we have to put up with when it comes to how we look. In our society, our beauty defines our worth to an extent, and it pisses me off.
But I'm human, too. As a new member to Reddit, I came across a subreddit that caught my attention: Scrolling through the endless pages of selfies and glamour shots, I just couldn't shake the feeling that my own self-confidence needed to be justified. I'm not delusional, am I? At least above average. The reason I've been single for most of my life has to be because I'm really intimidating, right guys?
I guess I have a penchant for masochism. For my own curiosity, ego, and self-conscious, I wanted to settle the matter once and for all: The results were harrowing.
Similar visions have haunted my existence since then. I was the girl who cried in a Hollister dressing room after realizing that no pair of jeans would ever go past her thick, Latina thighs.
And that no pair of knee-high boots would ever zip up over my large calves. I would spend days locked in my room ugly-crying and wondering why my hair was wavy instead of straight, why my arms never fit right in long sleeves, how some girls could wear short dresses without the back being four inches higher than the front.
Where I once saw big thighs, I now see pin-up-worthy curves. Where I once saw fat calves, I now see strength. It helps to see women who look like me in the media, too.
Thank you Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj for never being ashamed of your curves. Needless to say, though, the dark thoughts still creep up on me once in a while -- particularly when I stupidly put myself in precarious situations of vulnerability such as this one.
At first, most of them were super uplifting. It was nice to hear that people thought I was attractive and pretty, even if the happiness it gave me was rather fleeting. I was getting scores that totally matched up with how I felt about myself, and I was happy to know that I was not unreasonably self-confident.
That same night, I went out to a bar with some friends. Between laughter and sips of beer, I would casually check up on my Reddit post for updated scores. I felt queasy attempting to digest that reality.
But despite my best efforts, by the end of the night, I was barely focused on my friends as I felt a tight knot forming in my stomach. My stomach sank with every downvote, and the happiness I felt in the beginning of the day felt distant and unmerited. I looked at pictures of myself over and over again, effortlessly rediscovering my problematic eyebrows, fat legs, and average face.
Who did I think I was anyway? I suddenly became that sad girl ugly-crying in Hollister again. As I quickly said goodbye to my friends, I tried my best to wipe away stray tears so as to avoid the embarrassment of explaining why I was so disheartened.
I ended up taking the photos down, refusing to willingly undergo any more harsh scrutinization. I wondered if the rest of the world -- passing strangers, family, friends -- was silently judging me as cruelly as the people who saw my post. What I realized was this: Yet I realized what was worse than being insulted was that I felt I needed the approval of others to legitimize my own happiness. I expected almost everyone to agree with me. And I never want to care what anyone else thinks of it again.