Friday, 17 May 2013

You are what you are told

I had a bit of a light bulb moment this afternoon.  Sort of.  It was a light bulb moment without much resolution.

Some friends were talking about whether we feel attractive or not.  One friend said she had a
core belief from childhood that she was ugly and awkward.  Now, as an adult, she still absolutely believes it.  Another friend said she couldn't relate, as her mother always told her that she was beautiful.  We talked about how whether now, as independant adults, we feel 'pretty' and 'beautiful'.

It got me thinking, how do I feel?

I'm a self professed selfie addict.  An actress.  Never in my life have I shied away from a camera.  I've modelled, acted and entertained: on stage, on TV, film, catwalk, photographic.  I wear makeup every day, dress as best as I can with the clothes I have and the weight I am.  I do the whole girly hair and makeup thing for big events.  I smile, I appear confident, I obviously respect and care enough about my body to try to lose weight.

I must have a pretty healthy confidence about myself, hey?


I am fat and ugly and I am a pig.

Why do I say this?  Because truly, on the inside, at my core, I believe this.

Don't feel all sorry for me and tell me I'm not.  This is just something I believe.  This is the light bulb moment I had this afternoon.  I've been called fat, ugly and a pig so often, and have told myself this as well, that it is now a firm belief.

Yeah, it is pretty sad, I know.

But what we chatted about today, is how do we change this?  When the belief is so ingrained in us?

I'm not 14 anymore so don't draw fat/ugly/pig picture of myself in my diary with arrows pointing out my fat/ugly/pig bits and angst-y entries scribbled across the page: "I am fat and ugly".  I don't dwell on it, in fact, I don't even think about it.  It's just a belief.  I go to work, I rehearse, I sleep, I eat, I socialise, I train, I'm fat, ugly, and a pig.  It's just there, underneath, just a part of me.  I don't tell myself this bad stuff anymore.  I just know it.  Because I was told it so often.

They say you are what you eat, well yeah maybe, but even moreso, you are what you are told.  And this doesn't have to be someone saying this stuff to you, we are more than capable ourselves of instilling beliefs.

A few years back, one of my friends started calling her little daughter "Piggy".  It was a term of endearment - she ate a lot and my friend thought it was cute.  But I was horrified and tried to suggest that she doesn't.  Because I don't think everyone realises just how much words can impact, for long after the fact.

Sticks and stones and all that.

My friend from this afternoon said something really smart, and I asked if I could quote her: 

"It made me realise that beauty is how you feel about yourself. If you think you are some way, that is how you will carry yourself in this world - regardless of how your actually look on the outside. You will shrink and the things that you don't like about yourself will get less attention. So by thinking your ugly you will actually make yourself ugly. You will not be kind to yourself or your body. You will choose clothing to cover up rather than accentuate your body."

Smart woman, my friend, hey.

It makes me wonder how much I have limited myself because of this belief I just happen to have.  I don't ever think about it, it's so ingrained that I just know it.

I don't have any answers here, and I don't know how to fix it.  But maybe my friend is right.  Maybe if we start to think differently, we will believe differently.  Well I know that is true, but maybe it would work for this.  Like the whole "If you believe you can or if you believe you can't, you are right" type of thing.  Like 'fake it till you make it.'  Like the new Dove commercial.  Like the experiment of the water jars, where the one labelled as 'ugly' goes brown, while the 'beautiful' one, stays gorgeous and clear.

It's food for thought, if anything.

And as much as I truly mean that it doesn't affect me, maybe it should be a bit of food for action for myself as well.


My friend Sandra took this pic of me after Sydney finale last year, about 25kg ago.  She was watching me and said to hold position while she took this photo, because she thought I looked beautiful.  I thought I looked ugly and so never shared this photo.  Who is right? :)  Yes, both of us are :)


  1. Once again Kate an brilliant post straight from the heart. You are correct in every aspect here. What we think of ourselves won’t change no matter what anyone else says until we start to believe it. I have always said I don’t care what other people think and I convinced myself of that, but I have realized over the last 12 months that was not true. Thankfully I blocked most of it out, but still battle with what others think, but less now.

    I also understand what you say about the words you use with your children. Self esteem issues are huge nowadays and we are very conscious around our little ones as to what we say to them. I am not perfect, and Julie will sometimes remind of something I may have said especially to my oldest, whom I expect a lot from. I have to remember he is only a kid and treat him as such.

    Thank you for the wake up call, I am sure Julie will thank you as well. We just need to remember to love our kids and ourselves every opportunity we can get. Perhaps if my dad told me he loved me EVER him and I might not have the issues we do now.

  2. Kate my parents used to call me Miss Piggy as a baby because of the same reason. My siblings used it to torment me my whole childhood especially as I did become over weight. My parents used to say things to me like "You were so pretty until you put on weight."

    It had a huge impact on my self esteem and how I felt about myself. When I grew older I equated that everything in my life would be determined by my looks. So I spent so much time focusing on trying to make myself likeable through my looks so much so I did hugely self destructive things.

    I then had a hard time coming to terms with the fact my family wouldn't take responsibility for all the pain they had caused me. I literally hated them for 2 years. But I forgave them when I realised I had no right to expect them to be responsible for how I feel and how happy I was. I realised that was my job and I had the power to control who I was.

    I know easier said than done but realising that it was my responsibility was the one thing that set me free from being a victim. I always used to think you don't understand it was never my fault. Sure things may have been out of my control but the power I felt when I realised I could change it meant that nothing anyone said to me mattered anymore.

    I loved this post and I hope that you can find that power in yourself.

  3. I absolutely love the quote from your friend and this post is very thought-provoking. I feel like I want to write a million different things here but I just don't know what to say. Great post.

  4. Kate - You wrote this: "Maybe if we start to think differently, we will believe differently. ". My response: Not maybe. Definitely. What you think, you create. What you imagine, you become. That's the first half of a quote I have had on my desk or in my bedroom since I was maybe 13. I believe it to be true with all my being. More and more I see how very true these words are. No maybes. :) xxx

  5. It's so true that your head really does create your world and what you put out into the world comes back at you. I love this post. Just found your blog from the forums and I'm just starting my first 12WBT round. You are such an inspiration!