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The Fragility of Self Esteem – Starting Over, 12-16-04

by LauraBelle

A person’s self esteem can be tied to so many different sources, that when a person displays a particularly low self esteem, it can be difficult to know where to start to bring some change. Much of it is physical, but can this be changed before we learn to accept ourselves more and are open to the changes?

Today’s group meeting was led by Dr. Stan and focused on self esteem. He started by going around the room and asking all of the women what they would place their self esteem at on a scale of one to ten, and then followed asking where their friends and families would believe their level of self esteem to be. Four of the women placed their self esteem at seven or higher, and believed their loved ones would think it was the same or higher. Sommer thought hers to have improved now to around six or six-and-a-half, but thinks others probably think she is an eight or higher. Sommer has had such a hard time accepting herself as anything but overweight and unworthy even after her gastric bypass, so this is good news to hear from her. Sadly, Cassie places her self esteem at three, and believes others think of her as only having a one on that scale.

Dr. Stan finds it very interesting that five of these women have great self esteem, and Cassie does not. Struggling with self esteem issues most of my life, I find it hard to understand how someone enters the Starting Over house accepting they need to make some drastic changes in their life, but having good self esteem. Two of these women have joined the show in the past two weeks, yet they had among the highest of self esteem. While not making sense to me, I suppose not everyone that knows they need to make changes has to think badly of themselves.

Dr. Stan tells Cassie that aside from the work he is already doing with her on her self esteem, today she is going to get some help externally. Citing the troubles she had in her meeting with the tutor the day before, he asks why Cassie felt the need to tell her tutor of her the attempted rape against her. She says it was what she was feeling at the time. He suggests she needs to stop telling this story to move past it. He believes she needs to completely change on the outside to move past her difficult early years and says they are going to start this today, and that there is someone who is going to come in and help her. Screams lift the room as Starting Over Graduate, and makeover specialist Andy Paige, enters.

Cassie says she is so excited to have someone like Andy help her. She doesn’t care what changes are asked of her, she is ready and willing to make them. Andy starts in Cassie’s closet, showing her where she needs to make the first changes. As they move on to a clothing store, Andy shows her she needs to highlight some of the great body she has. She has such a tiny waist, it really needs to not be hidden, and instead draw attention to it.

As they move to the salon, and she sits in the chair, Cassie begins to feel the anxiety. A natural brunette, who is now a bleached blonde with light skin and dark, thick eyebrows, Andy and the colorist discuss bringing more of the dark in. When Cassie questions if she is losing her blonde, they reaffirm that she will be keeping some of it, but it will be less and more of an ashen color than the brassy blonde. Cassie enters it very warily. For someone who was so gung-ho earlier, it seems a little odd.

Moving on to the manicurist, Andy tells Cassie she will look better with some slightly shorter nails and in a pale color. Cassie hates the shorter length, and complains that it hurts when the manicurist is trimming them. Such a tiny little change and she is already resistant. How will she react to her hair color and cut? It just makes us start to wonder if she was truly ready for this.

As the color is finished, and the wet hair is being cut, Cassie is complaining it is way too dark, and is afraid it will be too short. Andy tries to pacify her and says wait till it is dried, it will be lighter, but Cassie remains on the defensive. Once it is completed, Cassie is shocked and outraged. She says this is not blonde. Well, yes it is, and is looks a helluva lot better. Andy, everyone in the salon, and all of us at home can see that. But Cassie is not ready to accept it. While still there, her housemates are discussing the changes she might have and should have made. All hope she loses the brassy blonde and gets a cuter, more updated look.

Andy calls Rhonda and they agree to have a meeting with the three of them back at the Starting Over house to move past this. Cassie shows up wearing a babushka. They do all the talking with her still wearing it, and when Rhonda attempts to remove it, Cassie freaks out. Rhonda and Andy face the difficult task of telling her her old look made her look just that … old. At forty-one, they tell her she looked like she was in her fifties. The long blonde hair made her appear at least ten years older. Rhonda tells her she has led a hard life and she looks it. They go on to tell her she is stuck in a time warp, and Andy estimates the look to be somewhere around 1986, which is not surprisingly, the same year Cassie had her son that she gave up for adoption. She is stuck in a year that she is afraid to move past. She is afraid to face that she lost eighteen years of her son’s life. This poor girl lives in such a fantasy world, I don’t think she was anywhere near ready for this.

Cassie reluctantly agrees to keep the look and try it for three days. Rhonda removes the babushka and screams with joy, then goes to talk to the other housemates privately, and ask if they will please support Cassie. She urges them not to lie, but just be supportive, and to take her out to dinner tonight to celebrate the new her. Andy fixes Cassie’s makeup, which is also being updated. Gone is the pale face and red lips. We are now left with a look that is so warm and inviting. As she enters the room, her housemates jump and scream in excitement. They love the new Cassie, who turns around and thanks Andy, but later is complaining again, saying she agreed to the three days, but doesn’t think she will ever like it.

As they sit down to dinner in an outside restaurant, the same one they went to when trying to bring Sommer out of her shell, they show her how the waiter was making eyes at her, and tell her the honks from the street in front are aimed at her. She doesn’t believe them at all.

I don’t think this poor girl was ready for this. She was still too fragile, and was now told she looked old, was practically wearing every bad thing that ever happened to her and was stuck in a time warp. Would it not have been more appropriate to broach this subject for those three days, and THEN move in for the kill? At this point, we know they are right, but are questioning their motives and how they went about it. She does look better and younger, but she will never believe it, still living in her fantasy world. The woman has a crush on John Davidson for gosh sakes.

I just can’t imagine even having good self esteem and being told you look old, like you have had a hard life and are living in a time warp. Imagine how distraught a person would be hearing all that, after they had just admitted their self esteem was at a three. Yet, they are doing this to change her self esteem. The whole process seems a little backwards to me.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

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