Lauren Ferzoco: When You’re Pretty, You Have A Voice

 

 

 

 

Lauren Ferzoco
Blog: http://clairebabybutterworth.blogspot.com
Twitter: LifeWithClaire

I was ten when I first realized how important beauty is in today’s society. All it took for me to come to this realization was to see how much attention my best friend was getting from the boys in our fifth grade class. I would hear them talk about how pretty she was and because of that, she started getting more and more invitations to hang out with the popular clique at our school. We had been inseparable up until that point and suddenly she was catapulted into the spotlight while I was left behind. She was really sweet about it at first, often inviting me to tag along. But after a while I discovered that it really isn’t fun to constantly put yourself in situations where you feel invisible and unwanted. When you’re pretty, everyone wants to be your friend. When you’re pretty, you have an easier time getting what you want. When you’re pretty, you have a voice.

 
I was just about to turn thirteen when I read a magazine article that helped set the stage for the next ten years of my life. The article was about a girl who lost a lot of weight over the summer and instantly became popular when returning to school. I can do that. I may not be able to control much about the way I look but I can control my weight. Within six months I did lose weight – weight that I didn’t have to lose. But with that weight loss I gained terrible gastritis, innumerable doctor’s appointments and awful panic attacks that plagued me multiple times a day. I couldn’t go to school. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin and I didn’t want to have to endure the daily pain of feeling invisible, of feeling ugly, of feeling like I was worthless. My mother stayed by my side as medical condition after medical condition was ruled out. I endured test after test, all because I did not know how to tell anyone how terrible I felt about myself. Eventually, my pediatrician told my mom to take me to see a social worker – my symptoms were clearly a manifestation of emotional distress.

 
It was a constant battle as I tried to rid myself of these feelings that ultimately led to anorexia, anxiety disorders and depression. Thankfully, with my faith, my family support and therapy, I was finally able to gain the emotional strength and coping skills to recover from the eating disorder. However, I remain in counseling because that little voice inside of me still tells me, day after day, the lies that are so easy to believe: I’m not pretty, I’m worthless, I’m just not good enough to be loved. These thoughts and feelings are what you get when you buy into the damaging lie that the way you look is what gives you worth. Why is it so easy to believe these lies instead of believing the truth? When I think about the effects that they have had on me over the years, I realize that they not only affect my self-esteem and confidence but also my faith, my work and my friendships.

 
I think my constant struggles with self-image helped lead me toward the path of becoming a social worker. You see, I am so familiar with feeling like I am invisible and voiceless because I feel ugly – and I hate the thought that there are others out there who feel like I do. I do not think it is a coincidence that I ended up in a job where I can build people up, include them and help them realize that there are people out there who care about them because of who they are and not what they look like. My career allows me to empower, to encourage, to help people find their voice and have the strength to use it. No matter who you are or what your story is, I will see your inner beauty and help you to claim it as your own. And honestly, I can’t help but think of what a difference it would make if everyone sought to do the same.

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Copyright Ark Stories 2011

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Rieschel
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 17:25:55

    I know too well the feeling of being ‘invisible’. How wonderful that you have found a career which allows you to assist people in developing the positive self esteem we all need. I enjoyed your piece very much. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  2. mom
    Aug 27, 2011 @ 19:37:28

    incredible….is all I can come up with…..struggles, battles and now recovery….and through all that always helping and caring about others ….you Lauren are a true inspiration of what fighting to recover and being smart, successful and BEAUTIFUL (inside and out) can be. I love you always God Bless you always

    Reply

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