When I was young I suffered from what seemed like a bad case of low self worth. First, I had my not so straight legs to thank for that and secondly I couldn’t understand why of all my siblings I was the only one sporting visible marks on my cheeks. If those two physical ‘challenges’ were not enough to give a young impressionable girl a complex, then add to that the fact that I was as thin as a rake! Needless to say, I spent a good deal of my growing years fantasizing about my ideal looks. I wanted nothing more than to be able to erase for good those silly embarrassing lines etched on my face. I was so sure there was malice intended by whomever cut my face. But my mum assured me that there was none. I believe her. It didn’t help that my schoolmates used to ask me why I had those marks-(as if I had a clue!).

Once, one of my teachers even asked if I was from Ondo and it wasn’t till much later that I understood why she had asked me that (figure it out). Needless to say, my socialization skills were hindered especially when it came to boys. I remember once attending a party where I neither made eye contact with any of the boys, nor take part in the riddles and jokes segment, which left everyone else (but me) in stitches as to be expected, no one ‘excused’ me for a dance for the three hours I stayed on. The outcome was that I was a real sad sack and I had a pity party all by myself. So you can understand why I used to think there was no fate worse than mine.

I can’t say exactly at what point my ‘deliverance’ came. But one happy day I woke up and realized that my marks and legs were going to be with me for a long time and began to look at myself not from the point of view of my vanity, nor my less than perfect attributes but my individuality! And over time I learnt to accentuate the positive. With my-not-so straight legs I became one of my school’s best sprinters in the 100 metres hurdles race and even went on to represent Lagos State in National Athletics. THIN became slim in my vocabulary and as for those silly annoying marks I wiped them off, mentally. Gradually, many things I had taken for granted began to enrich rather than devalue me. For the first time it occurred to me that more than anyone else it was I who continuously drew attention to my body parts by inadvertently celebrating them. As soon as I learnt to love ME, quirks, warts and all, it seemed quite magical the effect.

I almost even crossed over to the extreme side of confidence, when one day I stormed a disco party in a mini skirt (yes o!) and a pair of…wait for it…knee length boots! Guess whom all the boys queued up to dance with? Moi! Most times we short change ourselves terribly just because we see only the negative. What I know now is that if we learn to love ourselves no matter our not so flattering physical make-up, others will have no choice but to love us too. It’s pretty logical. Too often we unwittingly arm other people (friends and foes) with arrows to shoot us down. Today, instead of hating your body, make peace with it. Focus on what’s great, forget what’s not and you’ll find that life is beautiful after all.

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