"I was constantly bullied because of my looks, so I struggled a lot with my body image. I wanted to have no butt; I wanted to have no boobs. For a long time I just wanted to look tiny and androgynous. I never really shared what I was going through with my parents, because it was too painful. I didn’t know how to ask for help or how to even bring it up. But I do remember my mom telling me, “There’s always going to be someone who’s a better singer. There’s always going to be someone more fit. There’s always someone who’s going to be, in your mind, better than you—who you’re comparing yourself to. But you can’t do that, because you will live such an unhappy life.” It just took me a long time to put that advice into practice."Willis talks about having been debilitated by fear, being unable to leave her home because of the paparazzi but that the scariest moments came online. She says, "the real pressure comes from the Internet and social media—the mentality that it’s OK to attack people from behind a computer screen. Strangers say the nastiest things. Until recently the thought of making one misstep that could be criticized would stop me from trying new things and from standing up for myself." She goes on to say:
"Dancing With the Stars helped me get over my fear of failure too. When I signed on to do the show, I didn’t know what to expect. I had no dance training, had never played sports or even worked out much before, but I came in with an open mind. I just wanted to become the best dancer I could be. The first day I danced on-air, I was nervous; I had been struggling, and the dress rehearsal hadn’t gone well. But after I finished I felt more beautiful than I had in my entire life. Not because of how I looked—it’s not about having on a fancy dress or having your hair and makeup done—but because of what I’d accomplished and worked so hard for. When you conquer something you didn’t think you could do, energy and confidence radiate out of you, and that’s more beautiful than if you were skinny or had the perfect face."Unfortunately, the bullying hasn't stopped but Willis has a handle on it now. She says, "I remind myself that focusing on people’s negative opinions will only make me feel like crap. If I start to get discouraged, I take a step back and go, All right, I don’t feel great today, but what can I do to shift how I’m thinking? It’s difficult, but the moment you stop saying, 'I’m really fat,' or 'I’m ugly,' and just say, 'Wow, I have this,' then you’ll see a change." The biggest change needs to come from within each of us. Willis nails it on the head when she says, "What it comes down to is this: We all need to stop bullying ourselves and being cruel to other women. Attacking one another instead of supporting one another has become the norm. Life’s hard enough as it is. Let’s find strength in the fact that we’re different and unique. Let’s allow ourselves to say, 'These are my flaws, but I’m still beautiful.' Let’s find our own value, know what we have to offer—and know that that is enough." Amen to that! You can read the rest of what she had to say here.
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