|Let It Shine!|
|Written by Melissa Stamper, email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
When I was a child, I was in pageants. This was a great distraction for me, as my mother and I would travel to different cities during the summer to compete. You win some. You loose some. And I had my share of both. But during the days when pageant season was closed, my weekends were spent with my father. Since my parents were divorced, He would get me every other weekend. I hated it. I was subject to things children should never be subjected to and I could not tell a soul of the abuse.
So, food became a friend. In a geographical location such as the South, that prides itself on culinary pleasures, food became my best friend, actually...and I became an emotional eater. When I was happy, I would eat. When I was sad, angry, nervous, worried etc... I would eat. It became evident, after a while that I could no longer compete in pageants. So, I gave up. I got to a size 30 (298 pounds) and saw myself on television and almost cried. Who had I become? What had I become? Where was the girl who loved crowns and loved dressing up and loved herself?
Pageants have always been a treasure to me. I love to compete and hate to loose, as much as anyone I suppose. I love dressing up and seeing a crown shine in the spotlight! One of the best ways to sum up my wardrobe is: "If it don't shine, it 'aint mine!" (forgive the slang) So when I saw an advertisement for a plus pageant in Florida in 1998, I entered. I did not expect to win. It had been years since I'd competed in a pageant and for a plus woman to walk on a stage in front of an audience and judges who look for things that are wrong with you takes major nerve. It did for me anyway. But it all came back to me. It was like riding a bike. I won that national title and the year of my reign was such a wonderful one that through my promotion of the title, the plus division quadrupled in size the next year! This was my element. This was my first love. This was my identity.
I believe that many full-figured women have some deep seeded reason for their obesity. (Not all, just many) Mine was abuse. I put my identity in the crowns that I won and used that to ignore the real problem...the reason I was this way. So, with all of the strength I had in me, I went to visit my father in prison. He was shocked to see me. He said, "What are you doing here?" to which I replied, "Dad, I've come to forgive you." There was a veil that lifted that day...some twelve years after he dropped me of at my Mom's house and disappeared. I was but thirteen years old. If you would have asked me before that day what color my Dad's eyes were, I would have sworn they were black. But my father had the most beautiful blue eyes. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. The day I forgave my father was the day that I realized that, you don't have to be behind bars to be imprisoned and just because you're behind bars doesn't mean you can't be free.
We reconciled that day and made plans to start anew when he was released on probation, only one year away. Four months before his release, he died of a massive heart attack. He knew he was dying and tried to get someone to take him to the infirmary but because he was an inmate, they did not believe him. So, according to his cell mates, the night before he died, he sat down and wrote me a letter. It was a goodbye letter. He said that he knew he was not going to be able to see me outside of "The Walls", which is the nickname for the prison, but that he would gladly stay behind them forever if it meant seeing me or hearing my voice once more. This news devastated me.
Throughout the difficult times I've suffered, I've come to realize that without them, I would not be who I am today. Today, I write you as someone who realizes that many things in life create who we are and we spend too much of our time wishing we were someone else and hoping for change but never doing anything about it. We can't have the benefit of anything without having gone through the procedure of achieving it.
Achievement is nothing more than effort circumvented. I used to put my identity in my crowns. To me, they were proof that I was beautiful and confident. But I've come to realize that my identity is my crown.
I'm going to let it shine!
Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.
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