Every day before walking out the door, I take one last look in the mirror. And almost every day I find fault with my body and how I look. My husband of ten years tells me I am beautiful (he's a really good guy) and that I have a distorted sense of body image - like Pablo Picasso's painting Girl Before a Mirror.
Within seconds of a glance, I have picked myself apart. The last seven years of sleepless nights has taken its toll. The circles under my eyes are dark and often concealed with makeup. My unruly hair is thoughtlessly pulled back in a sloppy bun. My nails are uneven and bare because I neither have the time nor the energy to go for a manicure or paint my own nails. The bulge around my waist becomes more noticeable each day. Last year's clothes don't comfortably fit. And my shoes have seen better seasons.
It's hard to feel pretty and confident when I'm feeling frumpy, exhausted, and old. I'll be 38 in a few weeks. And as my birthday comes closer I think about how I once looked and how I look now. Maybe others don't see the difference, but I do. And it's my eyes that stare back at me in the mirror.
After reading, I couldn't help but think of every little girl I knew. All of them had the ability to look in the mirror and twirl around with this confidence that I haven't felt in years. I thought back to when I was a little girl - at 5, 6, 7 years old - and remembered looking in the mirror without a worry about whether or not I was good enough.
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And I looked in the mirror through my little girl eyes and thought about all the "magic" my body could do.
My body carried two beautiful babies. One survived and one did not. But both times my body healed and had the strength to keep moving.
In seven years of sleepless nights, I've managed to wake up every single morning and take care of my son, Norrin. And after Norrin was diagnosed with autism, it would have been to easy collapse in defeat. Instead my body summoned the strength to keep going and be his advocate. I've managed to fight for his right to an appropriate education.
No matter how tired my eyes are, they still allow me to see and celebrate all of my son's milestones and moments. I see all that Norrin is, rather than focus on what he is not.
My bare uneven nails are a part of my hands. My hands that have spent many nights holding Norrin, dressing him, bathing him, feeding him - helping him when he cannot help himself. They are the hands that he searches for when he is sick or scared. They are the hands that heal and comfort him. No one else's hands can do that.
I may not look or feel how I once did, but my body has done things I never thought possible. That's the magic within me. That's what makes me beautiful now. That's what I have to remember the next time I look in the mirror and cut myself down. I need to think back to my 5-year-old self because when it comes to body image and beauty, she knows what matters.
-By Lisa Quinones-Fontanez
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