What I love about myself: That I can do anything I put my mind to. That I am fiercely loyal to my family and friends. I love my toes and ankles. I love that I am able to be a fab wife, mother and journalist all at the same time. I love that I couldn’t be more of a Gemini if I tried.
My biggest challenge in accepting my body and beauty: Is coming to grips with the fact that this is my body — this nose, these hips, these arms, this belly. And that regardless of it’s shape/size, it’s beautiful and amazing. Because of my heritage (Italian and Polish), I have big nose and a curvy, ample body. I spent so much of my life trying in vain to work around those “flaws.” At my thinnest — in college — I remember being so pleased I could fit into size 6 jeans. I enjoyed it for a minute, then started thinking, I wonder what it would take to get to a size four? The guy I was dating at the time told me how to dress and never let me forget that I could get thinner if I really wanted (while it was OK for him to get heavier and heavier).
I was waiting tables, taking a full course load, freelancing, working at the school paper — I was thin by accident. There was so much going on, I wasn’t present in my own life. Anyone who knows me busts a gut when I mention that I once let a man tell me what to wear. I think back and laugh at the time and energy I wasted wishing I was skinnier (what else can I do?). When I was married in 2002, I wished I was at my college weight. After having two kids, I joked that I would kill to be at the wedding weight again. I don’t have the time or the desire to waste any more energy striving to meet the qualifications of someone else’s mysterious ideal. I’ve adjusted my perspective — there’s more to life than being as thin and “pretty” as what the masses dictate is acceptable (at that moment).
My biggest support in learning to appreciate myself: My incredible friends and family. My husband Patrick’s love and support has been unwavering — he’s repeatedly told me that he would love me no matter what I looked like. I’ve only recently started to believe him. I recently did my first triathlon with an awesome group of women, some of whom I didn’t know that well when we began training, but that I grew to know and love in those 12 weeks. I didn’t set out to have a body awareness epiphany when I started training (I was just looking to get my behind off the couch), but in part, because of their support, love, teaching and encouragement, I did.
Beauty is: Confidence.
Why I am strong: Because I am responsible for myself and my actions. My life has been an exercise in overcoming adversity in a variety of ways. I chose not to make excuses.
Why I am beautiful: Because under this faux tough exterior, I have an incredible heart.
What women must know: Don’t let others define you — define yourself.