I met Jorie freshman year of college in French class. She was a friendly face in a crowd of the unknown. I remember she always made me laugh (and helped Tega and I with our french homework). Dear reader, I hope you don’t mind that I am taking this to time to issue an overdue apology to Jorie. Jorie, I am sorry–extremely so. At times I find myself looking back on freshman year and wanting to hide away out of embarrassment and shame. You never deserved those those words–no one deserves those words. I want you to know that I think you’re one of the sweetest individuals I’ve ever met. You’re forgiving, and non judgmental. People love being around you because you bring about a sense of ease. Jorie, you’re magnificent. Thank you for sharing with me.
I’ve stared this series because through my own self acceptance search/journey I’ve realized that we, as humans, all have problems with our skin suit no matter what it looks like. The point of this series is to confront our flaws AND to highlight our excellence. I hope one day we’ll all be able to wake up and that voice in our mind which lists all our faults on repeat will be much quieter if not silent. The mirror will be less scary. We’ll smile as we pass our gorgeous selves. We’ll have a bounce in our steps. One day we’ll love our bodies exactly as they are right now. We might have bad days . We might have bad weeks. Yet once we unlock that key, that key of self love we’ll know we can get back to a sanctuary within our bodies. Our bodies and our selves are waiting for that love, waiting for that permission to just be. As I said to Jorie, (and as I say to all my future spotlights), be gentle with yourself, you are meeting parts of yourself that you have been at war with.
1. What makes you feel beautiful?
I feel beautiful when I feel positive, If that makes sense. When I’m not letting the weight of others opinions or drama get in my way. I feel beautiful when I can share my positivity with others, when I’ve helped a client at work, or when I’ve made myself, my friends, or my family proud. I feel beautiful when I can look back on something I’ve done and tell myself, “You really did a good job there.”
2. What makes you feel powerful?
I think what makes me feel powerful is when I do something empowering for myself or for others. I work at an psychiatric residential treatment facility for adolescents, and having a client recognize when I’ve done something to help them with treatment, whether it be a listening ear for them to confide in, or just generally advocating for them, I walk away feeling like I’ve given part of myself to someone else in an uplifting way.
3. What would you tell your past self about beauty and bodies?
I don’t know where to begin. I would tell myself first of all, that beauty is subjective. And also that it lies within. Over time, I’ve recognized that people who may fit the standard of “beauty” on the outside, can have really ugly insides, and others who don’t fit the standard of societal beauty norms can also be so beautiful inside that it radiates outward. I also have learned and would love to tell my past self that confidence in yourself is seen. Women who walk around with a great sense of confidence have such a different “beauty” about them. And finally, that beauty and my body and self worth doesn’t come from others. Their affirmation of beauty isn’t what I have to go to sleep with and wake up to everyday. What I feel as beautiful, what I see in the mirror every day, is what I will live with and I am the only one who’s affirmation I have to live with.
4. How does your skin color make you feel?
In a word? Guilty. At the same time, Im Jewish and my people have been persecuted throughout history. I feel as if being Jewish, a woman, and epileptic, I’ve been able to take these target identities and translate that into having a deeper sense of empathy for people of color. However, I am still white at the end of the day and will never be able to truly understand how it feels to be treated as a second class citizen by my race, purely based off how much melanin is in my skin, and for this, I feel guilty.
5. How have you struggled with your body?
Wow, how have I not…..In 9th grade, I started a medication to manage my seizures which my parents had put off medicating me with because of all the side effects. However, it was our last resort and when I started it, I gained 40 pounds in a short period of time. I think that’s when my body image issues began. My parents weren’t supportive at all, and pointed out my “muffin top” and encouraged me to wear better looking clothes and work out more. I’ve felt “fat” ever since and have struggled to work that weight off. I also struggled with being ashamed of being epileptic, which I consider to be a body issue as well. I was diagnosed in fourth grade and didn’t tell anybody, not even my best friend since kindergarten, about my diagnosis. She found out in 8th grade when I had a seizure the morning after a sleepover and she witnessed it. I felt ashamed of my diagnosis because I didn’t want to tell people and have them meet me with this overwhelming look of pity, like I had been used to with my parents and their friends. It defined me throughout middle and high school. It wasn’t until college that I became open with my peers about being epileptic and only because I had to take more responsibility because I couldn’t go to parties with strobe lights. I still felt ashamed and left out, but I eventually told more and more people, and now use my diagnosis as a positive to help the kids I work with see me as a role model for overcoming it.
6. Complete this sentence… “In my body is a safe place to be because….”
In my body is a safe place to be because it is where I am solely, me. It is a safe place because no one else’s opinions matter. I am in my body to live every day. I go to sleep with it, I wake up with it, and it is the only place where I know I am me and no one else can say the same.
From Jorie, with love.