Coming Out Stories, I'm Not Like Them (Female Body Image)

December 30, 2013

No one should ever wonder if they are beautiful, no matter how different they may be.

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My name is Sarah Elizabeth. I am 27 years old and I am beautiful.

At an early age I knew I was different from other girls. I popped the heads off my Barbies like most girls did at that age, but I also played with Food Fighters along side my older brother. The egg-crate mobile shot out tomato slices and was awesome for waging war. I look back on the early years of my youth with a smile on my face, reminiscing about the “Donson Wars”. Nerf Crossbow battles and water fights through the house, much fun was had. Even then I can remember my gravitation towards combat boots, hoodie sweatshirts and torn blue jeans vs. the skirts and dresses many of my friends often wore.

Growing up I was the second child of five children. My older brother was often the source of my favorite wardrobe choices. I loved his hand me downs: blue jeans torn at the knees, hoodies that had holes from being played in – the typical tomboy attire. I have extremely curly hair that I would often let do it’s own thing with the exceptions of two occasions: picture day and church. Jeans were not appropriate attire for a young lady to wear to church -EVER- and picture day was a day my mother looked forward to and dreaded.

I was on the safety patrol as a 5th grader, a frequent cafeteria worker when the position became available, a conflict manager, a Junior in Girl Scouts and on my church’s bible quizzing team for a season. Sixth grade was a game changer for me. I started at a new school in a new district only knowing 2 other kids. I quickly found myself grouped in with the “Outcasts”. They were wonderful friends to me during what would turn out to be one of the hardest times in my life.

I was blessed to have quite the seamstress for a mother. She made my costumes from a pattern for Renaissance day and whipped up a toga out of a white sheet for Greek day (the night before no less – it was AMAZING)! I was saved from the horrific embarrassment of not participating with kids from privileged families who could afford to buy their costumes from a costume shop.

Most of my middle school years are a blurry memory. The ones that stick out are the reasons why I have such difficulty with myself and my appearance today. There was one student in particular who left quite an “impact” on myself and others. Up until my encounters with this person I had not questioned my being good enough, my sexuality or my beauty as perceived by those in the world around me. All that changed very quickly.

I have what’s known as trichotillomania. It sounds quite frightening as I write that word down….and for me it is. The girl who bullied me throughout my middle AND high school years gave me a hard time about my “bushy and un-waxed” eyebrows. She would tell me on nearly a daily basis how ‘ugly they made me’ and how I ‘needed to wax them to be a beautiful – like a real girl’.

In the coming years and months, her constant teasing became such an issue for me that I began to pluck my eyebrows. It went from being a once a week occurrence to a daily compulsion to touch them, check them, and pluck them until almost no hair was left. I still go through these moments in times of stress or upset. I am frequently questioned by friends, acquaintances – heck even complete strangers as to why I shave them off to such an extreme (i don’t) and why I don’t let them grow back. Unfortunately for me it’s too little too late. For the most part my eyebrows will never be what they once were…

My transition from middle school to high school was fairly smooth as friends I’d grown up with and friends I’d made at my old school all of a sudden came together at our high school. This was the time I really began to question myself, my sexuality and where I fit in on the beauty spectrum. I had a few not so serious boyfriends before I met the guy who would be my “steady” boyfriend for much of my high school career.

As a freshman I played J.V. Volleyball and as a Junior I swam on the J.V. Girls Swim Team. During that time I got involved in my schools Sport’s Medicine Club. I constantly questioned myself and what it was that made me beautiful. I wore mostly jeans and band shirts and my picture day attire quickly went from dresses and skirts to button ups and slacks. My friends were all from different crowds each encompassing their own forms of inner and outer beauty.

My senior year was probably my most profound. I befriended a girl who, like me, was raised in the Church of the Nazarene. I had come to find out she was dealing with a lot of the same inner struggles I was. I had found a forever friend and a wonderful soul who was able to relate to my struggles in discovering my own beauty, self worth and sense of self. I don’t even know if she knows how much she impacted my life during our short term in high school as classmates.

Shortly after high school I made some bad decisions, the side effects of which I live with to this day. I met my ex in an online chat group that I frequented during my younger years in Arizona. We had a very rocky marriage and relationship for almost 7 years. Breaking up was not an easy thing but ultimately was the best for both of us. For over 10 years I questioned my self worth, my sexuality, my sense of self and whether or not I had any place in this world.

Not long after we broke up, I came out to my friends and family through everyone’s favorite annoying and addictive social network – Facebook! I got a lot of ‘we’ve been waiting for you to come to that conclusion since you were 14’. It’s been almost two years since then and only recently have I been able to begin to accept myself as I am. Former flames have criticized me because of desire to not pigeonhole myself into one extreme or the other….Butch or Femme. During that time I discovered a lot about myself and even uncovered some inner demons that needed excising. After many nights of crying and pondering things like how I identify, how I dress, what message I am trying to send, etc. I finally settled on the term queer.

When I go through older photographs of a younger, brighter, happier me, I often find myself asking how I didn’t come to this conclusion sooner. The conclusion that I, Sarah Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Gail and Troy, am gay.

I think that my self identity and queer factor will always be an issue for others – but the important thing for me is that I am beautiful! At the end of the day there will always be haters. I can change a tire, change the oil in my van, fix busted toilets AND “clean up rather nicely” as one of my beauty school instructors said.

Yep! I am in beauty school. There isn’t any one student quite like me (so much so that there have been issues raised about it), but I am doing my best to get through. My GPA is close to 4.0 and I had to take a month of mandatory academic vacation for clocking too many hours too quickly (LOL)!

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder; this much is true, but what you don’t hear people say often is that everyone and everything is beautiful. And if that is the only mission I am able to accomplish in my short time on this big blue ball of gas floating through space, then I happily take it on. No one should ever wonder if they are beautiful, no matter how different they may be.

-S.B.

3 thoughts on “No one should ever wonder if they are beautiful, no matter how different they may be.

  1. OMG! Girl! This, THIS is amazing!!! I love your ability to be candid and have humor in all things. I know looks aren’t the center focus in life, however the first time I met you, I remember getting lost looking into your eyes for a moment, distinctly thinking to myself “don’t be creepy”, but also remarking in my head and later to my other half, how amazingly gorgeous you are. And it’s like the longer y look, the more “it’s” there. Love you. Love your bravery. Love your charisma. Love your loveliness.

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