Mirror, mirror

Posted on 29 May 2015 at 7:35am

Women must see past their own overly critical body image issues

Texas-voicesI recently went to my regular beauty salon in Highland Park — I live nowhere near Highland Park, but the salon was super convenient when I worked for CBS on Central and Fitzhugh and Jamie does a wonderful job — and while I was there, I started thinking about women and body images.

I was a bit early for my appointment, so the receptionist brought me a glass of white wine while I waited. I fiddled with my phone and thumbed through a magazine. All around me were these gorgeous Highland Park women with handbags that cost more than my car.

One woman walked in and I almost felt bad for her because she would walk out of there looking no better than when she walked in. I mean, she looked that good. She was as tall as me — pushing 6 feet — with longish, honey blonde hair that made it difficult to tell whether she was coming in for a cut or whether she had just forgotten her keys. Her make-up was flawless.

I wanted to get up and run screaming from the salon. I didn’t belong there among these women!

It’s no secret that pretty much every woman has some kind of body image problem. Women we might view as having the perfect body still pick at themselves. Many of us say awful things to ourselves about our bodies. I’m certainly guilty of that.

Trans women are some of the worst self critics ever because there is just so much about ourselves that we wish were different. It’s not about just wanting to lose a few extra pounds; it’s having the wrong anatomy — broad shoulders, huge feet, a brow ridge, an Adam’s apple, facial hair, small breasts, big hands, male pattern baldness … and the list goes on.
Self accceptance is a long road.

Also at work is the odd “grass is always greener on the other side” phenomenon. I bought some clothes a while back, and the girl at the checkout counter was a beautiful Asian girl who surveyed me and asked, “How tall are you?” I told her I was 5-foot, 11-inches (I don’t like saying I’m 6 feet tall), and she said she’d love to be that tall.

Leslie McMurrayReally? I told her I’d trade for her 5-foot, 2-inch frame in a second. (OK, maybe 5-foot, 6-inches, if we’re granting such wishes. But you get the idea.)

Another girlfriend wants my long legs and flat-ish stomach. And I’d trade for her hips and size 8 feet. Oh, the shoes I’d love to wear.

Thing is, stuff doesn’t work like that. We get what we get and while we can work on some things, others are like cards in Texas Hold ’em: You play the ones you are dealt.

A Facebook friend recently posted a video that really opened my eyes. A woman who often said terrible things to herself in the mirror, and who thought she was alone with these thoughts, asked 100 women to use one word — any one word — to describe their body. Every single one used a derogatory word to describe themselves.

That made me so sad. It was actually hard to hear women describe themselves that way when I’d make a deal with the devil to have any one of their bodies.

There are too many mornings that it’s been a struggle for me to leave the house. The standards of beauty and femininity often seem impossibly high;  knowing I will never reach them can get to me sometimes.

What I need to focus on — and I am talking about me, personally —  is that I lived the vast majority of my life aching to be a woman with every fiber of my being, knowing I was a woman inside, but also being a realist in understanding that nothing of my exterior betrayed my secret.

Now that I have fully transitioned — as far as I can — by accessing some well of courage and determination I never knew existed, I need to remember how long it took and how hard I fought to get here. I need to be grateful every day.

I need to reconcile the fact that I have the body of a 55-plus-year-old woman and that I’ll never feel what it’s like to be a 25-year-old girl. That’s a tough one to get over.

But living a life of dissatisfaction with my body is a waste of time. I need to get back to my belief in changing the things I can while accepting the ones I can’t and living each day to the fullest.

As for those awful things we say to ourselves in front of the mirror, we need to ask ourselves: Would we say those things to our daughters? Or to someone we love? Absolutely not!

Perhaps it’s high time for some self love and acceptance. What do you say girls?

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 29, 2015.

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