Written by: Preston Skye Soriano
Like a lot of women, I grew up with a horrible self image. When I was eleven, I had a friend tell me that I was going to stay fat because I still had my baby belly. At eleven, my entire view of myself had changed and would never be the same. From there, I started skipping meals, eating lighter, and praying to God that he would take away my extra weight. Of course, none of it worked. I continued to have weight problems into my teenage years and later my adult years. From puberty came acne on my shoulders and back, and teeth too big for my face. I was sinking in a muddy puddle of self loathing for my body, and I had begun to accept that there was nothing that I could ever do to change it.
Then, I began a relationship with my husband, Jed, at eighteen. He was perfect to me, handsome, and incredibly intimidating. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to compete for his affections for long, so I went into hyperdrive trying to “fix” my problems. I ended up causing pretty severe damage to my skin, and continued again to sink. Our relationship was pretty unusual to begin with, Jed and I met online so we both grew feelings for each other without the initial “love at first sight” mumbojumbo. So I asked him one night after a few months of being together, honestly and curiously, what he wanted in a relationship. That night he told me–for the first time in my life–that I was sexy. Not cute, not beautiful, but sexy. Me, this short, plump, sometimes pimpled lady. Inside and out. I was caring, hilarious, and a lot of fun to be around. It was very obvious that what I had been viewing of myself for so many years was not the person that he saw. Who else saw me that way? I wondered. Did anyone else see me how I saw me?
So as a woman, naturally I tested him on this.
I stopped with the skin care products, and when I broke out on my chest he didn’t seem bothered. When I asked him about it, he said “It happens, no big deal.” I went a day without sprays and *gasp* deodorant. The guy didn’t. even. notice. I even went without shaving my legs. For two months. During summer. By the time that I was sporting long, thin, dark brown hairs I had to finally tell him. Again, completely oblivious to what was going on on my legs. Perhaps he was being polite, or perhaps it was simply too far down, but he didn’t even care. I started wearing my pajamas longer, and not wearing makeup at all. It was liberating. Relaxing. I was beginning to feel free of this prison I had put myself in, and I was beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin.
It took years, still, for me to care less about things like my weight. I still feel a little uncomfortable in dresses, not because of people seeing it but because I just don’t normally wear them and I feel silly. However, I’ve gotten to the point today that I no longer care what people think of my appearance. I realized that the person who cared the most about it was myself, anyway. Those that did care about my appearance, well… chances were high that they, themselves, were also struggling with body image issues. Male or female. It’s hard for me to imagine people who are comfortable in their own bodies would even notice the “flaws” in others. I still dress up for special events or dinners, but other than that I never wear makeup. I don’t style my hair. I dress for comfort above all else, and boy does it feel good.
From what I’ve learned through this journey is that people will forget about a pretty face. They see them all the time. Beauty isn’t what makes a person special. It might cause for a second look when passing by, but to truly be remembered you need personality, intelligence, and a good character. I have used that would-be primping time to instead reflect on myself and my goals, my dreams, aspirations, and what makes me special. I am Preston Skye Soriano. I am clumsy and often have a hard time controlling the volume of my voice. I am very wide hipped and large chested, but I love my body, lumps and cellulite and all. I am a writer of fantasy, and I strive to have thoughtful, philosophical and provoking conversations with everyone that I care about. Free-thinking and real world problem solving are some of the greatest accomplishments the human mind can strive for, and I want to not only achieve that for myself, but also help others start down that path. Logic, reason, and empathy are what makes me special. Not my weight or my looks, but my mind and my heart.
So I ask you now: What about you makes you special?