The TBIM family welcomes Tasha Ann as a contributor!
Tasha is a 23 year old actress who moved to New York from her home town in Indiana to continue in pursuing her passion. Her inspirations are that of the legendary Marilyn Monroe and the timeless Audrey Hepburn. Tasha, herself having battled a binge eating disorder as a teenager, conquered it and wants to share her story with other young girls who are struggling with the same issues.
“You know, if you lost weight, the boys would be all over you,” a family member said to me as we drove through a hot August day towards the local Kmart. It was the week of my 10th Birthday and I was being driven to the store for the next size up in jeans and a couple training bras.
For my birthday that year, I’d gotten puberty. I noticed that I was already different than most of the girls in my class, with wide-set hips and the beginning of breasts. It wasn’t only the girls in class that I didn’t look like. I was also a far cry from the girls on TV or in the magazines. I felt confused, meek, and inadequate. I felt unworthy of being a woman and at 10, I was already sure that was too tall an order for me to fill. Now, on top of that, I should be concerned that , at my present weight, I will not attract a suitable mate? Shouldn’t women have been past that by the 1990’s?
While we were riding in the car, and at the store (when I had to shop in the juniors department instead of the kids) it really did seem like a legitimate concern. After all, this particular family member had wanted to put me on a diet since age five, so she had clearly been concerned that I was a ball of lard for many years before she finally told me about it, at least in my mind.
This type of thinking stayed with me through Junior High, and through High School, into my early years of adulthood. As was predicted, I did have trouble finding guys who wanted to date me, and that added to my illusions of inferiority. Though I know now know the popular quote “No one will love you until you love yourself” was both my disease and my cure. I wish I could write that I quickly learned this, and overcame the obstacles to be the happy healthy attractive person I am now. That is not how my story plays out.
I made it halfway through 21 harboring the genuine belief that I was grotesque, obese and unlovable. It wasn’t until the spring of that year something changed. For the first time, maybe since I can remember, I looked in the mirror. Really looked, free of judgments and other people’s expectations. I am not sure I can say I had ever done this before. I took the time, really stopped and asked, “what is so bad about me?” and my answer was surprising. There was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with me!
From that moment on, I began to be kinder to myself. I realized that I don’t have control over what my family thinks about me, or what the media thinks. The only thing I can control is loving myself as much as I deserve to be loved by others. Amazingly, I’ve found that once I do that, most other people love me too, regardless of weight or hair color or skin clarity (or any other trivial thing that we are told makes us valuable). I realized that it’s who I am that makes me beautiful, I realized that maybe I had been pretty great all along.
It was a long journey for me, but hopefully with the help of programs like TheBeautifulInMe, young girls will no longer need to struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I hope that parents, extended families and the media will realize the effect they are having on our nation’s girls. They are young, beautiful and precious. They are our future and they deserve much better than we had.