At 12, I was called a cock-teasing whore by a guy in his 30s on the street because I refused to go back to his place.

At 14, a boy in class would grab at my boobs whenever he was within reach

At 17, I started being propositioned by men over double my age at work… “just one night, just one time, I wanna know what you feel like. Please.”

At 18, I found a folder of “hidden” images on the family PC where my stepdad had cut/paste my face onto images he’d downloaded from teen porn sites. (he convinced my mum it was a joke gone wrong after failing to convince her that hackers had done it)

At 19, I woke to him naked in my bed, stroking my back. He “didn’t mean anything by it” then, either.

Subconsciously, I started eating to gain weight, bury what was inside me… I decided that I didn’t want to be seen that way, and I wasn’t even trying to be that way.

I felt sick to my stomach every time a man was nearby or looking at me.

I hated it, I hated them, I hated myself.

Except for a few, but well-meaning friends did their best to make sure I felt guilty and wrong for enjoying them and enjoying myself and who I was when I was with them. All their insecurities, guilt and shame projected onto me. They thought they were protecting me.

Even when a friend commented that I’m always “the hot/sexy one” and she’s always “the cute one” I felt bad, wrong somehow, like I shouldn’t be (not her intention, it was just an observation)

Well, I’ve decided I’m done with all that.

I’m done with holding onto all the guilt and shame weight.

I want my cheekbones back.

I want this girl to realise how beautiful she is effortlessly, naturally, without smiling for the camera or playing the part.

The girl who “parted waves” when she walked into a room.

I’m 35 now, and it’s time I start reclaiming the REAL me.

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