Names have been changed for reasons of confidentiality in the following opinions.
“I’ve been called too fat, too frumpy in my choice of clothes, not good enough, not clean enough. I’m single and the pressure to get married and have children is overwhelming when it looks like all of my friends are either getting married or having children or both. I’m tired of telling myself that single is better and that I don’t need a man to complete me. Then I told myself a couple of weeks ago to distance myself away from this negativity. Some of it was from persons around me, but sadly most of it was in my head.” – Tara
“Labels? I’ve never thought about it in that way but it’s actually relevant to everyone. Even men are labelled. Yet women are pressured by the media and themselves to look a certain way. People have called me ugly, you know the one: ‘She looks good but her face’. Once I started to look at myself and tell myself that I am beautiful, those persons didn’t matter to me anymore. Yet they were cruel. I guess words hurt as much as you allow them to.” – Danni
“I’m a single mother raising three children under the age of 8, on my own since my husband died of cancer, three months ago. It’s tough. Our family calls me strong but I feel tired and run down. Sometimes I cry in the middle of doing some random chore like washing dishes and say: ‘Why me?’ I started counselling the other day and I was asked to describe myself and I was shocked at the words I wrote down: haggard, let myself go, need to pull myself together, pain and the list was long. So I’m working on myself and being strong for the children. I miss my life before but God knows what’s best.” – Joanna
“I’m called pretty because my eyes are a hazel colour and my hair is what people in our country call “good” hair but I got tired of people judging me on my looks. I wanted to be more than just a pretty face. Some people were surprised that I have opinions on gender affairs and international politics. They assume I’m dumb because I’m pretty. I guess the song is right…Pretty hurts.” – Marissa
“I’ve tried all kinds of diets and all types of exercises to fit into the so called perfect image of woman that society has created. I’ve spent so much money on making the outside look better that I forgot about the inside. I guess I had it in reverse. I was never pleased at how I looked. I always found some fault with my body. I never really enjoyed food and exercise until I went to a wellness centre. There, they put more emphasis on the inside and eventually I began to love myself from the inside-out.” – Sara
“They call me the body. Everything about me must be perfect: the boobs, the waist, the hips. Everything must be on point. That’s what my life revolves around. That’s who I am. That’s the core of my personality. Without that I am nothing. My mother always nagged me about my weight throughout my life so fitness became the passion of my life.” – Yolanda
Labels have played an integral part in these women’s lives. Yet it is essential to see how they react to these labels. Some let them define who they are. Others accept the labels and continue to live their lives, while the rest took those labels and used them to progress further on in their respective lives. The key is of this life lesson is to capture thought processes for they account for emotions and actions. Once those thoughts become positive, the journey of loving yourself from the inside out begins. These labels are the stepping stones to discovering that true beauty is eternal. The body will not last forever. The core of life lies within the thought process. It is there that one can experience beauty and freedom to experience the fullness of life.
(Next article: Labelling our children)