Everyone wants to feel beautiful inside and out. Having good self-esteem and liking our body aren’t easy tasks when you have depression and have been through a double mastectomy. It’s hard to look in the mirror and like that imperfect body. A body that for years you hated, a body that was robbed of the very things that defined you as a woman, and the body with extra pounds, scars, and other imperfections. I spent most of my life hating how I looked.

     As a kid, bullies ripped at my self-esteem, and then depression led to self-hate. I always thought I was the ugly one out of the three sisters. My oldest sister worked for hours on her hair, makeup, and style. She was always beautiful, and I was plain and ugly. I was a tomboy who had unruly hair and hated makeup. My younger sister was skinny and beautiful also. I envied them both.

     I never felt beautiful until I met my husband. From the first time I met him, he told me how pretty I was. No man had ever told me that before. He made me feel beautiful for the first time in my life and still does, but there are still times I look in the mirror in disgust. Each time I put myself down my husband stops me and insists I say, “I’m beautiful.”

     When I had my mastectomy, my self-image was shattered. It took time to accept my loss and to love myself as a woman without breasts. It was a struggle. My husband kept telling me how gorgeous I looked, but I didn’t feel that way. Before my surgery, I saw a customer who had a double mastectomy and thought, “She looks ugly.” She looked beautiful, but when I looked at her, I was picturing myself without breasts and I didn’t like what I envisioned. After surgery I couldn’t look at my chest or at myself in the mirror. It took time, but eventually I began to think of myself as a lovely, flat-chested woman.

     Since my surgery I worried about how I would look in a swimsuit. I’m not an avid swimmer-I can’t even swim-but I love going into pools and to the lake. Last year Lou and I stayed in a hotel with a pool. I put on my suit for the first time. I didn’t feel comfortable in it. I once had breasts to fill out the front of it and the breast area was empty and kind of looked awkward.

I didn’t put a swimsuit back on until I went to North Carolina to my sister’s home. I got in her hot tub and in their neighbors’ pool feeling uncomfortable and ugly. The top just didn’t fit right. Even though no one cared, I cared. It mattered to me how I looked. I wanted to feel beautiful in a swimsuit again.

When I got home from my trip, I had some extra money left over, so I made an appointment with a store that specialized in bras and swimsuits. They carried products for mastectomy patients. I wanted a friend to go with me to give me some input on how I looked, but all my friends were busy. My closet friend, Cheryl, who lives miles away, suggested I send her pictures through text.

I went to my appointment with my cell phone in hand. A woman helped me pick out four swimsuits in my size. She took me to a changing room with a chair and long mirror. I tried on a suit with white stripes and a skirt that hung over the bottom. I took a picture and sent it to Cheryl. The lady came in with pads. She showed me that there were pockets in the breast area to put them in. They filled out the bra area of the suit. Cheryl texted, “Cute.”

Next, I tried on a dark blue suit. The front part hung lower and revealed parts of my scars. I took a picture and sent it. I cracked the door and the lady helping me came in. She shook her head and said, “That one is not for you.” Cheryl thought the suit was cute, but liked the first one better. In the picture she couldn’t tell that my scars were showing. I didn’t feel beautiful in it. I’m not embarrassed by my scars, but I don’t want to show them off. That suit was a definite no.

The third one was a black one and the front hung even lower than the blue one. My scars were fully exposed. I felt ugly. My scars are a symbol of a battle I fought and won, but seeing them revealed by something that’s supposed to make me look pretty made me feel awful. Cheryl agreed that suit wasn’t for me.

The fourth suit I put on was all red and fully covered my chest. The pads made it look like I had small breasts. Cheryl commented, “Sexy Baywatch lifeguard. It looks flattering on you.” I agreed with her. For the first time I felt beautiful in a swimsuit. I stared at myself in the mirror for several minutes. I felt sexy and couldn’t wait to take it home and model it on for my husband. To make it even better, the suit was on sale.

It wasn’t a matter of buying a suit that I would use frequently, but instead it was a need to feel beautiful and sexy in a swimsuit again. I may only use the suit a couple times this summer, but at least I know when I wear it, I will look good. When I tried it on for my husband, he said I looked sexier than Pamela Anderson. Just to hear him say that meant the world to me.

Sometimes we need to do things that help us feel good even if it’s buying a dress or swimsuit, you may wear once in a while. Liking your body image is not easy, but it is possible. Find your special style or thing that makes you feel good. Tell yourself “I’m beautiful” daily. If you keep a journal, write it in there each day.

Soon I hope to go to the beach wearing my new swimsuit, looking like a sexy lady. Buying this suit boosted my self-esteem and has helped me stay in the light of recovery.

4 thoughts on “FEELING BEAUTIFUL

  1. HI Aimee,
    Such a good choice! The color and style really suits you!
    Congratulations on taking the action you needed to feel beautiful!


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