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One Sentence Can Be Enough



KLARA BAUTERS: You think you can hurt me? You’re gonna have to get in line. For years, no one could be more critical of me….than me. 

 

The internal critique of my body began at 17 - when I felt the transition from being a girl to being a woman.

 

Seemingly overnight, shopping with my mom and my sister was no longer my favorite activity. Suddenly, clothes I tried on didn’t just automatically fit me. Before then, I might not have liked something because the color didn’t suit me or I didn’t like the way the fabric felt on my skin, like wool. Oh my god, I can still feel it itching just thinking about it. But I never had to worry about clothes fitting…Until this one day, I tried on a dress and all I could see was that it was too tight - in a bad way. My hips, too wide. My once reliable body just didn’t look like mine…. Or at least that’s all I could see.


(More of a turn in tone here)


When I want to feel nostalgic for my childhood, I watch videotapes of my family thanks to one of my dad’s earliest purchases – a video recorder. I watch how my two brothers, my sister, and I sang along with the theme songs of our favorite series and built pillow forts in our living room. 

 

And when I see myself as that little 4-year old girl with her chunky cheeks, her blonde bob, and a bright smile that could light up a room, I feel very protective. No one should ever hurt this child. But then I realize…I have been the one who has been hurting her the most. Why would I ever do that?

 

It wasn’t easy to let go of those negative thoughts. Therapy helped, certainly, as did the unwavering support of friends. But it was always two steps forward, one step back. And a real turning point came from someone I didn’t necessarily expect.

 

My dad.


In our family, New Year’s resolutions mean friendly challenges we design for each other for the year ahead. For instance, my challenge for my brother this year, Read 20 books, five more than the year before. And to my mom: Take those Italian lessons. She’s always wanted to learn.


And last year, my dad’s wish for me was simple: “Try loving yourself.”  Suddenly, a playful challenge held a world of meaning for me. To know that my father, who always see me through adoring eyes, saw my self-doubt…it cut him deeply…and I really hated seeing my dad hurt. I had to really commit to changing my ways.


So I set out on a new mission—to be kinder to myself, to love this body that has carried me through so much, and I hope will carry me through so much more. 


Now, when I’m looking in the mirror or eating a piece of cheesecake, I am gentle with myself…, I’d say positive things and imagine myself as an old woman, knitting my 72nd scarf, and remember how much joy I had rather than the years spent tearing myself apart. 


It’s everyday work, but don’t worry dad, I got this.

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