Three-year-old Jeannie is enjoying her first snow day. This photograph was taken in Roanoke, Virginia. As a native Texan, I didn’t have the necessary snow boots. No worries; throw me into some cowboy boots and I am on my way.
This is me without makeup. I woke up, turned on my computer, and snapped a selfie. Yes, I have a hole in my shirt. I haven’t even had coffee or brushed my hair! I’m sure you could point out 112 things wrong with that photo, and I’m okay with that. You know why? I’ll never be as beautiful as I am in this moment. Every minute it takes me to write this, I’m aging. My body parts are failing, wrinkling, and losing their elasticity. All of this is happening with neither my permission nor my approval.
You will NEVER be as young or as beautiful as you are in this moment. You will get this one day. You will turn back and question, “Why the hell didn’t I see how stunning I was then? Why did I think I was fat, ugly, and disgusting?” You will see that every day you are given the opportunity to love yourself. I don’t care about those people who have rejected you and haven’t loved you. Love yourself. Believe that your thoughts count more than whispered judgments.
If someone hasn’t realized how beautiful you are, thank your lucky stars. You don’t want anyone who doesn’t see how perfect you are. Turn off the negative talk in your head, and maybe you’ll begin to hear the positive voices that are trying to be heard.
We all keep a running list of things we don’t like about ourselves. I’m not going to list all of mine, because I think I’ve done enough sharing in this post (see photo above). So, you have a choice, sit and fume and pout about the crap you can’t change, or get to work on the stuff you can change. No, you aren’t going to drop fifty pounds overnight. Should you stop going out of the house or throw on a tarp? NO! Clothes are accessories, love. You are meant to be the star of the clothes, not the other way around. Wear clothing that accents the positive on your body.
Accent the positive in you, every day! You know the most beautiful thing about anyone’s face? Their smile. A smile can truly make or break a face. Haven’t you met someone who may have have been blessed with a beautiful body, but they didn’t seem very pretty because they looked sour? Everyone wins with a smile; you look better, and you make everyone around you feel better. Well, except for those super people who insist upon waiting to knock you down until you become miserable like them. Yes, those people exist. They are the ones who ask me, “What are you so happy about?” or better yet, “What made you smile so big?”
I’m tired of hearing people lament about how the media, and the fashion, advertising, and entertainment industries are perpetrating unattainable images of women. Yes, those images have always existed, but that is not where the youth of today are learning to hate themselves. They are smart enough to know that images are digitally enhanced, and that it takes hours to accomplish the looks they admire on celebrities. They are picking up self-hate from YOU- their moms, aunts, sisters, cousins, teachers, and close family friends. Yes, YOU.
Your little niece notices when you shy away from the camera stating that you “don’t like your photo taken.” Your daughter absorbs every minute of the self-hate you dole out, repeating the phrases she hears you say about hating your thighs and watching as your cry about your weight. When you starve yourself to lose a pound, your little sister learns what it means to be a woman.
Start owning the power you have, and realize that you are the instrument of change in this battle.
Why does this matter to me? When you choose to be more kind to yourself, you extend that generosity to everyone around you, and a profound circle of love and kindness begins to spread throughout the world. You can all it a cliché, but I just call it truth- loving another starts with loving yourself.
Miley Cyrus has nothing on the five year old version of Jeannie. I dropped the scary witch mask and decided to stick out my tongue. Apparently, this was a more terrifying image to me than the mask. I find that mask disturbing today, and I cannot imagine what would make me choose it as a child. I do have an affection for a bushy eyebrow; perhaps this was the inception.
Jeannie M. Bushnell, 5 years old @ Halloween
I love that my hair blends in with the field behind me.
I was raised in a house of country music. I can sing along to all the “vintage” tunes of the likes of Dolly, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Jeannie C. Riley, and the rest of the musical brat pack of their day.
For my first ever “Throwback Thursday,” I give you me, age 9, as Dolly Parton, complete with wig and false eyelashes. This is one of the few times I’ve ever been photographed with dangling earrings. I have always preferred studs–stud earrings.
This was taken at my elementary school, Toler Elementary in Garland, Texas. I believe the school held a Halloween party for the students.