Being comfortable in my own skin is something I have struggled with. I was always made to feel my body was less than perfect. I remember as a child, my mother squeezing my thighs as early as 7 years old pointing out my cellulite. Not because she was being mean, but it was more like she thought she discovered something new and exciting that everyone was talking about! I have family members who were obese & ill across the board. Bodily issues are a big theme for me & how I was driven into fitness as a career and lifestyle. I struggled with my body for years and is why I believe weight management became a fit for me career-wise. Feeling okay with myself was a hard thing and giving myself permission to feel it was hard with who I was surrounded by. I experienced a lot of judgements by my controlling boyfriends, my conservative family members and not so true of friends. Jealousy is something a lot of women can relate to and what jealous people will say and do can be very harmful to make their point and make you unthreatening. The problem was, I was not in my own power enough to not be hurt by the opinions of others.
As I have aged, there is great perspective now with all of this and I take pride in being more transparent. I have removed the masks and am happy to say I have worn many to protect myself from many things. I smiled when I was sad inside, I acted like my life in Beverly Hills was pristine and perfect while having a drug addicted mother at home and no father to count on. He had moved far away and had his own struggles with drugs and family. I hid my pain in many ways and searched for love in all the wrong places. I was desperate for attention, love & acceptance. We act out in many ways when we feel deficient. Now I have found a channel to play this out in a much more healthy way. I do see how competing and being in the limelight can cause you to get lost in it all, but if you keep your feet on the ground it can be a great experience and that’s the part I relish in.
I’m am at a point now as a competitor, where I’m learning to accept where I am at and how to age comfortably. I am learning to modify things as nature is taking it’s toll. I believe it is okay to do things to enhance your beauty, but like anything in moderation. I want to keep it real and work daily on my spiritual well being, this is my #1 priority. This is medicine to me. No matter how beautiful you are for your age, as things change, you must adapt to the new you and being in this industry is a big adjustment since there is a lot of pressure to be perfect. Everywhere I worked in an environment full of beautiful people it was a daily norm to get your dose of comments. Some of which were about how I am too skinny when leaning out for a show, gained weight after the show and one person even said, “you need your own program”. The comments about how I look look look were weathering. “I looked good, I looked tired” and so on. It was relentless how many people felt their comments were invited. I guess it’s because I am who I am and this is part of it or is it karma, since so much of what I do evolves around critiquing others. It has taught me to be careful with my word and to recognize how sensitive we can be when someone is just being what their version of honest is. Isn’t it honesty we want? Comments during show time, would greatly psyche me out if I was not grounded and worked hard on my own spirit and psyche. I know what is competitive and what is not because I am educated and I have had to be patient with others and their lack of understanding of the sport I am in. Since dying my hair I get multiple opinions from those closest to me and outside, but what matters is my fantasy was to be a brunette and I am living it not for approval, but for me. I have had great success on stage and got my pro card as a brunette. I personally love the change. I’m enjoying it and that’s what life is about. Doing YOU!
Now when I compete, I may not be competitive much longer. This is hard for people to understand at times. I have to explain why, it’s not about looking good everyday, it’s about what is competitive. It is hard to accept since I was always top 5 and if anything Top 2 from the day I started competing in figure and fitness. To be hardly noticed on stage as an IFBB PRO when I enter an OPEN show where Masters are not separated, I take some real hits to my ego. I can’t see the difference either, but the judges do. They know the details. I think I’ll get a guest pass or something or some sort of sympathy point for being a Masters Pro against 20 year olds, but that’s not yet to be the case. You have to be honest and real about the fact that 20-26 years old is not going to make the cut with the younger athletes. So what do you do when you are the “older” woman up there? It is odd since I don’t feel my age. I don’t even see my age at times. (at times, I said 🙂 However, things physically do change. Collagen and elasticity are something I can’t fight or get surgery to correct. I see this like there is a microscope on it and my family thinks I’m crazy. I spend so much time concentrating on it and touching those areas hoping this is going to change one day with time. But with age – times up! Gaining and losing weight throug the years makes it harder to tighten up. I’ve worked hard to let go of the perfectionist that has lived inside me and am working real hard now on being okay with this. With my family history, again, having a mother whose beauty was the center of her universe, I got some strong messages early on that when that goes by the wayside, hide out and don’t let anyone see you. My mother hides because she feels less than now that she is no longer a model or actress. This began in her 30’s and caused her not to work for many years throughout her life. She lives in shame about her looks. It’s sad really and there is no convincing her otherwise. She was truly the most beautiful woman I have ever met. Here is what she looked like(photos below) and this is now how she feels….How is this possible you wonder when you see a woman who has it all. What she had in the end was a broken spirit because she lacked a huge thing – self worth. She let life beat her down instead of make her strong, better and wiser.
For me, there was a time, I was sick with perfectionism. It used to be about having perfect hair, body, living in the model home and giving perceptions. Even during my years as single parent, I would get myself in debt to present this image. I got married to my first husband who gave me the perfect perception of an elite lifestyle. I thought this is what I wanted, needed and would fill the void. But the love was not there and how empty I was inside. I now, want to just be me, whatever form that takes. I’ve learned there are lots of layers to me and I honor them all. I fantasize about going grey, stopping all the effort and just being one of those gals you see walking down the street or naked in the gym with no shame in their game as they let it all hang out. I still suffer from shyness – I know hard to believe, but there are many things I am actually shy about…but truly letting my crotch hang out in the gym locker room and letting go of my looks will NEVER be me. I believe we always have to work at ourselves and create our best life possible. I don’t believe in slacking. For me letting myself go, I guess in some ways is my biggest fear. I fear becoming the story of my mother. It’s not even possible, but I use it to drive me to be like her, but to be her better self or my best version so that there is a happy ending to that story. She created a daughter who learned so much from her life. It would be great of course to go to the extent of being removed entirely from these expectations of society and others in our tamil. However, this would be very foreign to me since playing with make up, dressing up and dolling everyone up around me were some of my first childhood loves. I started out this way. It is in my nature to doll up. I was always my nana’s “little dolly”. She instilled in me the importance of caring for yourself and being your most beautiful.
However, I’ve learned that it’s all good, but what matters is self love & acceptance despite what anyone else judges you as. You have to be okay with you and only you know how far you have come. They may see you as one way, but do they know your story? Sometimes we forget our own story and focus on right now and what is not working in our lives, rather than acknowleding ” you have come a long way baby”. I’m letting go of hard self judgements & realizing I am ok at any age, with any shape I am and that I have proven to myself so much is possible and there are creative ways to do the same thing…just differently!
Beauty will always be subjective. I love the saying, “when you think you have it bad think of how much worse someone else has it.” I may not be as competitive as I once was, although I still strive to hang in there as long as I can stand it! But I think of those in wheelchairs or one arm that I have seen recently doing shows. Yes, doing shows!!! What courage. They work hard to do the best with what they have. They are getting up there with dignity regardless of their circumstances. They are proud to show what they are doing with the obstacles and what a powerful message for us who are so hard on ourselves over a little cellulite that shows up once in a while or a little belly bulge. This is very reassuring to me for my future. If they can mentally handle that I can certainly handle aging.
I personally want to be remembered not just for my body, but my accomplishments along the way that were driven by my personal story and inspired others. it’s just a different effort now & purpose! As I come to a place of fulfillment in my life where I now do have options to be about me or to serve others. I find my life more centered around giving back and teaching what I have learned. Playing teacher was also a big part of my childhood. I enjoy dedicating my success to you – to your endeavors and the fact you are trying to do something to better yourself! I want to help those who want to help themselves and who understand how important it is to keep your spirit youthful and alive by trying new things. My effort and focus are still somewhat about my own success at times, yes, but I get such a high helping you succeed or making an impact in your life on some profound level. I get that gratification everyday! I love it when I am a catalyst for an “aha!” moment for someone. It literally tickles me from the inside out. Helping others is making me feel ageless & timeless….So now I have one simply goal left that is once again a childhood dream and that is my hope to remain remembered as one thing, a legacy.