Amy Schumer Made Me Do It

In December, 2015, a fan of Amy Schumer’s posted the picture above.

In a world of constant criticism, the fact that Amy was comfortable enough to let Annie Leibovitz take this picture is pretty incredible. If she can be that courageous in the spotlight, I can do it in relative darkness. So this piece is my version of the Amy Schumer/Annie Leibovitz picture.

I’ve never done this before. I’ve never been one to post something personal, or God forbid vulnerable, on the Internet. Why? Because the internet can be a mean and judgmental place.

While I consume a lot of my news and entertainment on it, I don’t understand why so may people share such intimate details. I know it’s a younger generation norm, but the reasoning behind it eludes me. It seems crazy…or maybe it’s just that those people have a confidence I’ve never experienced, or they’re aware of the brutality but don’t give a shit.

Any way you shape it, daily you can find some atrocity about how badly people treat each other online; cyber-bullies, trolls, etc. Why would anyone subject themselves to it? To lay yourself bare to strangers? To put your whole self into the arms of the Internet is a serious risk, not a loving embrace. It’s like the choice between asking Freddy Kruger for a hug or running screaming the other way.

Normally I’d run and scream, but today, I’m asking for a hug. Like in the movies, I’ve decided to dive headlong into the hands of the killer, in hopes that I won’t get caught. “Fuck it,” I say. What else can you do but face your fears and hope for peace and understanding in the experience?

This story is two-fold and not at all unique. It’s the story of a woman with self-image issues and a bad relationship. Here goes:

I’ve had body image issues for as long as I can remember. I don’t know a time where I felt comfortable in my own skin. When I was at my skinniest, 114 pounds/5’3", I still didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I look back at pictures of myself and I appeared sick. You could see the bones in my chest, my face was drawn — it wasn’t pretty. But if you asked me right now if I’d go back to that weight, I’d give you a resounding “yes”! As messed up as that is.

Right now I’m 133 pounds. Not ideal but getting there. Still a bit too soft for my liking, though I don’t hate to look in the mirror quite as much as I used to. I’m still self conscious, even when I’m alone, but I’m trying to change that.

Intellectually, I know I’m not ugly. I’m no model, but I’m an averagely attractive 36-year old woman. The problem is I don’t feel attractive. That’s a blatant lack of confidence and I know it. I just have a hard time changing it. The struggle is real.

If only my confidence in other areas of my life would translate to body image, I’d be home free. I’m sure men have a hard time too, but I truly believe society is harder on women. There are any number of gorgeous women with average men; Beyonce and Jay-Z if you need an example. There aren’t many examples of gorgeous men with average women, but I’ll give you one.

We get what we think we deserve” — a line from The Perks of being a Wallflower. It’s true.

My ex-boyfriend was very good-looking. I thought he was out of my league based solely on his physical appearance. Why would this gorgeous guy date me? Never mind that he was Peter Pan (his best friends’ wife’s words, mind you); emotionally immature and unavailable, never put me or the relationship first, and failed to stand up for me to a friend of his that told me I was only a place-holder for his ex. Oh, and most of my friends thought he was cheating on me. To this day I don’t have actual proof he did, but female intuition says yes. And if that wasn’t enough, my best friend and my parents didn’t like him. So of course I stayed in the relationship a lot longer than I should have. Because why listen to the people that know you best? We’ve all been there, right?

But back to the point — he was better-looking, so I thought I had to earn the right to be with him. I put up with being treated like shit. His actions and inactions played right into my insecurities, played on every fear of not being good enough I’ve ever had. And not only that. I wish that was the worst of it. I lost my voice as well. If I had anything to say that was in disagreement, or even the slightest complaint about how I was being treated, I was being “mean.” So I was slowly trained to think hard before I spoke, to choose my words with care, for fear that I’d upset him, that I’d “be the bad guy” or that I’d be told I “wasn’t very nice”.

The relationship was six years on and off. In that time I forgot how to have an opinion, how to speak off the cuff, how to be myself. I have a dry sense of humor and I’m sarcastic by nature; the opposite of the person I became with him. I forgot what it felt like to be treated well. I lost all sense of personal value and worth. I let those things get twisted up in him, in that one relationship, until I was no longer there.

I let it happen. I’m going to say that again — I. Let. It. Happen. I’m not saying he carried no fault. I’m not saying how he treated me was okay. However, staying in that relationship was on me. I knew what was happening. I knew he wasn’t right for me from the start. I stayed anyway. In a lot of ways he brought out the worse in me… But I don’t regret the relationship. I learned a lot about myself and I learned it the hard way.

Once I was able to end it for good, I was proud of myself. However, while I’ve been over him for a long time now, I still haven’t fully found my voice. I also still struggle with body image issues and not feeling “good enough”, but I’m taking it one day at a time. What I have learned in the last couple of years is that I’m resilient, intelligent and interesting. That what I have to give is worth receiving. That what I have to say is worth hearing. That I deserve to be loved for who I am, flaws and all, and to be respected and treated well.

Amy’s fearlessness gave me the courage I needed to share my story. If even one person can relate and feel like they’re not alone, then it will have been worth it.