Oh the Irony…

One of the best things to come out of this blog is discovering how much I enjoy writing.   Growing up I never really tried to write, but always felt I had a lot to say.  If you’ve been reading for a while you know that I occasionally post personal essays exposing my  fears and struggles, which prove both therapeutic for myself and according to comments, for some of you too.  To me there is no greater success than hearing from someone that my gut-spilling makes them feel less alone. The essay I wrote (read here) on being an awkward child and my struggles with anorexia and Body Dysmorphic Disorder was by far one of my most popular and personally gratifying.  So I was beside myself with the editors of Ladies Home Journal called and asked to buy the essay for publication.  I could not believe that someone wanted to PAY me for my writing and publish it in one of the biggest women’s magazines in the country! And then it hit me, that mulleted, buck-toothed  middle school photo would be published with it! It’s one thing to have my readers see it, but quite another to imagine it in every supermarket in the US. And it’s there, now, in the June issue of LHJ, probably in your very grocery store.

But funnily enough, that’s not the photo I’m struggling to accept.

It just so happens that I am currently having a really hard time with my BDD. Like, really hard. Since writing the blog post it’s gotten way worse. And it’s so hard to explain and understand, but when life gets pretty stressful I take all that negative energy and channel it into hating my appearance, which happened to coincide recently with a few photo-shoots, exacerbating the issue. Again, it’s a diagnosed mental condition and I have been working with a specialist on it. I know to some it sounds like false modesty and bullshit, but trust me, it is not. I’ve been dealing with this my whole adult life. And when I saw the “new” picture of myself in the magazine I felt panicked. It’s not a good picture of me, even my friends and Andrew have said that it doesn’t even look like me.  For a few days I let my misfiring neurotransmitters sway me into forgetting about how proud I was of the article and instead focus on the picture and not share with you that it’s out.  Which is the exact OPPOSITE of what the article was about and totally a step backwards in learning to not only accept myself but also not place such importance on the exterior.

Then last night I read the story again. And I cried. And I remembered for a moment what it was about and how honored I am to be published and thankful to LHJ for believing in my words and my message. And I took a little of my own advice and am letting you know it’s out. And am using these feelings as yet another tool in working towards healing myself.

So what if it’s not a great picture, I’M PUBLISHED! :)



130 comments

  1. Erin, for what it’s worth, I think you look gorgeous in that photo! You look incredibly chic and your hair is insanely awesome. So. There you have it. Just a comment from a fellow Bostonian who reads your blog religiously from Auckland, New Zealand. Thanks!

  2. Congratulations on getting published! That is an incredible accomplishment! I adore your blog partly because you have an incredible sense of style but also because you seem to have an incredible sense of who you are and you’re damned real about it. Keep on keeping it real! xo Sarah

  3. Erin – what a wonderful accomplishment for you…the writing and the honesty are inspiring and the photo is lovely. Congratulations.

  4. Erin,

    you are really fabulous. I only know you from your blog and pinterest but you are right, the photo doesn’t do you justice. There’s no way you would post that on fb! However, it is really beautiful and the article is fantastic and the first time I read it couldn’t believe how honest and raw it was. You are not alone and I am sure you know that. I am sorry about your condition being exacerbated after writing this. Sometimes I think it takes a while after you expose yourself to be ok with it, even though you probably didn’t realize that it would. Keep it up. You are an amazing woman and so talented. Congrats on the article. Really amazing!!!

  5. Erin,

    After reading this post yesterday, I was torn between commenting. Would telling you how stunning I think you are, and witty and thoughtful to boot, having read your blog all these years, be vapid and empty and predictable? Because you are – I just wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to say. There are rare moments when I catch a glimpse of myself and think “wow! Is this what I really look like?” or see old photos and kick myself for not realizing sooner how great I looked without ever knowing it at the time. But most of the time, the person in the mirror throws me off… I can’t imagine struggling with more than the average insecurities, and I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re wonderful and strong and brave for putting yourself out there like this.

    Like I said, I was going to let it slide without commenting, but I woke up this morning having dreamt about some sort of mothers day luncheon that you just happened to be at, and I introduced you to my mother, saying “This is Erin Gates. She doesn’t know me, but I read her blog and I think she’s fantastic”.

    Kate

  6. Congratulations, Erin! That is an amazing accomplishment – and I am thrilled that your beautiful essay is on newsstands across the country to inspire so many other women!

  7. I’m so sorry to hear that you are having trouble coping with your inner struggles. I hope you have healing soon. Try to remember your positive strengths. You are funnier than shit when you get roll’n. I loved the post when you were critiquing the fashion on one of the award shows a while back. You would be amazeballs on the Fashion Police..Joan Rivers has nothing on your one liners!!
    Smiles and Hugs sent your way..hoping you had a great weekend and I almost forgot CONGRATULATIONS!
    Maureen

  8. So sorry to hear about BDD. I’ve always found your look to be incredibly chic with a sassy attitude and tons of personality. I have to agree with you, that those pics does not capture either your beauty or your personality (that we see in most pics of you), but you know what? Being as successful as you are, you’re going to have to get used to AND expect to see crappy pics of yourself in the future. I know I have the past year, I almost threw up the first time I saw this über horrendous photo of myself in not one, but 39 (!!) different newspapers across the country (in Norway). I took a time out, and said to myself: “remember the cause, remember the cause”. I have learned to always ask to approve the pics being used in every case, which has turned out to work pretty well :)

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you’ll get past this bad stage of the BDD as soon as possible. And remember; Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.

    and ps – you really do write well :)

  9. so proud of you, erin! you are not only beautiful, but courageous! thank you for sharing your life with the world. and… congratulations!!!!!

  10. That post is why I read this blog. I am so excited that you are being recognized for your talent and for having an authentic voice. You were awesome then and you are awesome now!

  11. I have been very preoccupied and have not had time to read my favorite blogs in months. Today I thought I would check to see what I had been missing and almost fell off my chair when I read this post. I am a recovering anorexic and have been struggling lately. I know this post was not easy for you to write but it was exactly what I needed today. You are an amazing designer, hilarious blogger and a beautiful person. Thank you for being so real and vulnerable. Thank you for sharing your insecurties and your life. You are the inspiration I needed to remind me that it isn’t how I look that defines me! Thank you.

  12. Thank you for taking yourself out of your comfort zone to share your inspiring story (and awesome kid photo! I have one in my closet that I could take out and cry about.) I can relate to your feeling. Although I did not have the ensuing struggle of BDD, the impact of being a not so pretty preteen still affects me. When I look in the mirror I still do not see what my husband sees. It is an inner turmoil that few people know lies within me. I am sure that I will have to deal with my own negative body image issues, to some extent, my entire life.

    I’m not sure how you will feel when I tell you that your pictures in LHJ are so pretty and that I Googled you and got to see many pictures of you and that you are just that much prettier. But it is your inner beauty that shines through in your writing and brings a measure of peace to me when I look back upon my tween years.

    Thank you again.

  13. Thanks so much for your essay, Erin! Here’s my response, from prettyisblog.com :

    Great news: one of my favorite bloggers, Erin Gates of f3k.info, is featured in the June issue of Ladies Home Journal. Go thee forth and purchase your copy!

    I am so excited to see Erin’s work recognized, because, quite frankly, I adore her. More importantly though, I am beyond pleased that the particular essay LHJ chose is going to be so widely read. If you are a woman, or you know a woman (any woman), read it immediately if not sooner.

    In the piece, originally blogged about a year ago, Erin talks about how she went from happy, confident (if buck-toothed) kid, to a near-death anorexic with serious Body Dysmporphic Disorder. She’s better now, but still struggles with BDD.

    Not only is this essay shatteringly well written, it also highlights a life-or-death battle women all across America face today – the fight for self-acceptance. Some women literally die when they lose this war – through anorexia, bulimia or some other form of suicide. Others suffer losses less obvious but profoundly devastating – relinquishing the opportunity to live life at their most genuine, most joyful, most grateful best.

    Erin writes, “Not everyone has such an extreme relationship with their appearance [as I do], but I have yet to meet a woman 100% confident in every inch of their bodies or faces.” I think most of us could echo that, and what a disturbing statement it is.

    Let’s all try to be just a bit more like those little girls we once were. Remember when we never thought about the size of our thighs? We were too busy adorning them in frilly pink tutus or our favorite corduroy overalls, so we could attend to pressing matters like building a castle fort in the living room or climbing a tree in the neighbor’s yard.

    That is what the Pretty Is As Pretty Does blog is all about: not hating the thighs, but loving the tutu, and the awesome things you can do while wearing it. It’s about working to be at your best, inside and out, and knowing that’s absolutely good enough. Sometimes that’s a major struggle, but it’s one of the most important battles we’ll ever face. So fight on, girls. It’s a war we can’t afford to lose.

  14. Congrats! I can actually totally relate to your thoughts on the picture of you in the magazine. Though I by no means think it’s a “bad” picture, I have definitely seen many photos of you looking more like what I imagine “you” really look like.

    In fact, I had the same experience when I was recently photographed for Woman’s Day Magazine. Though the photographer snapped some great ones of me, the one they chose to put in the magazine didn’t really look like “me” and it was disconcerting. I don’t *think* that they edited it in any way, but man, was it weird to see in the magazine and not recognize it as myself.

  15. Congratulations! You got published! That’s quite an accomplishment and though you’re BDD may put a cloud over it, you should still feel so proud.

    A couple of years back I was selected as part of a hottest Latina’s contest (though I despised both the term “hot” [’cause I’m not] and Latina [just because that’s not how I identify myself]). I absolutely hated the photo they chose of me to feature. In no way did I feel the photo portrayed any sort of “hot” but it also didn’t look like me, not that they edited the photo at all. Perhaps it was my over analytical self, but it would have been far from the first photo I would’ve chosen for the feature. Needless to say, I didn’t win the contest and I was ok with that. So though that was a little tabloid size paper in San Antonio, and you’re in a national magazine, I guess I can kinda say I know how you feel.

  16. How brave Erin! It is your honesty about yourself and next your great design clarity and style that resonates with me. I salute you in your courage and struggle to see yourself as you really are – a beautiful, funny, inspirational woman who has a very different design sense that her 12 year old self!

    Let me take your next set of photos for you – I’m local!

  17. Are you for real?

    No, really, you are beautiful, talented, and have a great sense of humor. Secretly I am hoping that you are a mean person in life but I don’t think that’s the case. Some days, we all need some encouragement so I hope this (and all the other nice comments)gives you boost in your wounded spirit.

    In your job, you are trained and paid to look critically. Being in such a visual line of work, you cannot help but look at yourself critically! This world is not perfect and I am sure your world is not perfect so you don’t have be perfect. You have such a blessed life Erin, enjoy it! (That’s a command!)

  18. I don’t even know what you look like IRL but I thought your ‘now’ pic in the magazine looks terrific. You look like a nice person that I’d love to sit and chat with on a cozy couch and have coffee together. So there! =)

  19. I think the feelings that you have expressed here are symbolic of a much larger problem. Somehow it is acceptable or even normal for women to obsess over their looks/weight. Men rarely seem so preoccupied.

    The saddest thing is how young the comments start. Members of my family have told me “not to worry” about my six month old daughter’s chunky thighs. Six. Months. Old. She is in the normal weight range for her age and length. I was so infuriated. I never heard comments like that about my nephews when they were the same age. Now I struggle with how I will shield her from these sorts of issues when they come from everywhere.

    The best I think I can do is to be happy with myself, which for the most part, I am. Hopefully that will help.

  20. Fabulous. (The writing and the photos.) Can’t wait to see you in the grocery checkout…a very welcome change to tabloid trash, my dear. You’re the real deal.

  21. Erin, your essay had me lauging and crying. Your honesty is amazing and you truly are gorgeous- inside and out. I know how you feel about having pics put there that embarrass you and take away from the article the photos we taken for and it’s frustrating. You want to be proud of the mssg but hate the photo and feel embarrassed. ( I had 40 lbs of baby weight on me for my very first publication of my house and that sucked.). But, you do look beautiful, even in these pics, although I totally understand where you’re coming from. Anyway, am babbling but this was really beautiful and I’ll be thinking about you. These issues touch so many of us and the way you put it into words was perfect.
    Xoxo,
    Lauren

  22. Oh Erin – it’s not a bad photo – just a bit stiff looking. Us blog readers already know how gorgeous you are – both inside and out. But chicky babe – YOU published an awesome article in a NATIONAL publication!!!! Pat yourself on the back, enjoy the moment, open the bubbly and dine out on your success …yeah and next time get pre-approval on all photos! Congratulations!!! Andy (Sydney, Australia)

  23. Seriously, I think everyone who would have their photo taken in a major magazine would scrutinize it and find something wrong. It’s just human nature, while the rest of us see an amazing photo! Congrats!

  24. I was so excited to see your article when I was waiting for my daughter at the dentist! Sorry about the photo, the one on your blog is much better. Thanks for your vulnerability and honesty that is beautiful at every angle.

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