I was in ballet by 3 years old, beauty pagents by 14 and modeling from 15 till I became pregnant at 19.
Kindergarten to the day I graduated high school I was bullied by my peers. At home, I was yelled at by the man who raised me when anyone honked their horn, whistled or said anything to me, like it was my fault. In my teens he refered to me as a whore, with zero evidence to back it up. He is the same man who molested me along with many others. His family would not allow me to play with their daughters because they felt I was not a good influence based on my looks.
The father of my child fell in love with the model. When I was pregnant at 245 pounds and again after giving birth at 185 pounds, he cheated on me. It was not till I was thin again did he consider marrying me. I found my power, said no and left.
I am 50 years old, never married, I have not been in a long term relationship in years. Recently, I have been on a serious journey deep within myself, trying to recognize patterns I want to change and why I do them with regards to men and myself. I do know I have a love hate relationship with my looks. At 5’11 and yes a half, I do stand out. My looks for a long time was a way I could get people to like me or so I thought. I received sexual advances because of them and as a teenager was naive enough to believe if a boy touched me, wanted or had sex with me, I thought it was because he loved me. It’s what I was taught at home right?
As a result, by the time I was 26, I stopped wearing makeup and clothes that made me stand out more than I already do, except special occasions. The boyfriend I had at the time was very jealous and a lot of what I was accused of as a young girl, I was experiencing again. I allowed it cause I did not know any better. I also sunk deeper into a hole of not caring about what I looked like in order to attract less attention. On a good note, after four and a half years, a five hour drive in my car, the book A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson and now adopted with a new Dad who loved me as I was. I found my power once again and left…
Being a Chef or baker is not a glamorous job. People expect you to be fat after all you cannot be a good cook if you are not eating what you cook. Not a place to wear makeup or sport a fancy hair do. I liked being in the kitchen, I could hide there and I didn’t have to present something I did not feel I wanted to be. Do not get me wrong, there were times I did go all out. I am a beautiful woman (I accept it now) and I did like the attention I got, but it was for the wrong reasons. Point being my profession is not one where you wear pretty clothes, ever! You get used to not wearing make up and nothing more than shorts or jeans and a t-shirt.
I have recently joined Toastmaster’s here in Grand Cayman in order to gain bravery and work on my speaking skills, so I can be an effective transformational speaker. After attending the first meeting I immediately felt intimidated by my fellow TM based on their attire. I do recognize most of the members are coming from work, women in dresses, skirts and high heals. The men in slacks, dress shirts and lossened ties, but for me, my wardrobe consisted of shorts, tank tops, dressy dresses and jeans. Becoming a member of TM would mean presenting a better version of myself and I need to figure out how I will dress. Who am I outside of being a chef?
Whoa… Scary. I have spent so many years behind the scenes hiding, finding comfort in the chaos, I have forgotten what it is like to present me, to be comfortable with me. Joining TM has begun to bring me out of the closet I created for myself, to protect me from the ugly and what I could possibly be. I have had to learn to accept the beauty I have been given, yet still struggle to put on the dress that makes me stand out, put on the heels or wear the make up that high lights my natural beauty. It has been a journey to open myself up again to the attention I attract, to accept who I am and to finally be confident enough to stand in the beauty and power I have been given. When I gave my last speech at TM on Chicken Wings, I felt that same confidence I used to have as I walked the runway, only now when I take the stage in the future, I will also use my voice.
I feel you are brave and generous to share your journey Sherri. I think you sharing yours gives others the confidence to keep on with their own. I hope there are some mighty big oases for you along the way.
Thank you Gemma, I appreciate your kind words.
Now theres an independent woman!