Creating Myself: How I Learned That Beauty Comes in All Shapes, Sizes, and Packages, Including Me

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9781416558613: Creating Myself: How I Learned That Beauty Comes in All Shapes, Sizes, and Packages, Including Me

Now in paperback, the deeply personal and inspirational memoir from one of America’s most successful plus-sized models, and daughter of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, on her journey to recovery and self-acceptance.

On the surface, Mia Tyler led a seemingly perfect life. She was a world-renowned plus-sized model and the daughter of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and seventies It girl Cyrinda Foxe. But growing up under the shadow of celebrity wasn’t as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be.

In Creating Myself, Mia shares scintillating details about her rock-and-roll family, as well as battling her own personal demons: dumping her mother’s cocaine vial down the toilet at just eight years old, running around backstage at her father’s concerts (including the one where she first met her sister, Liv), and attempting to distract herself from her pain through drug addiction and self-mutilation. Yet this memoir is ultimately a tale of redemption. Mia learns that in order to truly grow up, she must forgive both herself and those who hurt her, give up the quest for perfection, and acknowledge that she is still a work in progress.

Featured in People magazine and many television shows, including Entertainment Tonight, Mia Tyler’s Creating Myself is raw and inspirational, the tale of a hell-and-back journey from the depths of depression and addiction to triumphant self-discovery.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:


Mia Tyler,
daughter of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and sister to Liv, is one of the most successful plus-sized models in America. She lives in Los Angeles.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue

The End

On a warm spring night in 2001, a few months before my twenty-second birthday, I had an absurdly stupid, pathetic, and desperate thought -- one few would have suspected coming from me, a successful plus-sized model featured in magazines and typically described as a self-confident role model.

I was going to kill myself.

I was up in the Hollywood Hills, at a home filled with a couple dozen people partying their brains out, some jumping naked in the pool and others dancing to music that thumped loud enough to feel like a series of small earthquakes.

Was it possible to be around so many people and still feel absolutely alone? Yes, sadly, and I was proof.

I opened a sliding door and stepped out onto a balcony that was cantilevered over a deep canyon. Standing there, I had the sense of being on a platform over nothing, a six-foot-long sidewalk suspended in the sky. Straight ahead, far beyond the drop, in a carpet of twinkling lights, clouds, and stars, sprawled Los Angeles, the City of Angels. Corny as it sounds, I wondered where my angels were, whether they were out there, and if they were, would I find them?

One thing I knew for sure. If I jumped, no one would find me at the bottom of the canyon.

I sat down and let my legs dangle over the edge. I puffed on a joint that I'd brought out with me and tried to figure out how I'd ended up in this spot -- me, the daughter of rock star Steven Tyler and legendary '70s glamour girl Cyrinda Foxe. I knew better than to think that a gold American Express card and a famous last name guaranteed anything more in life than entry to a club. Then, as in the past, I had to ask if I wanted to be anyplace where they only cared about my last name.

What about me? What about my first name?

But never mind how other people reacted to me and what they thought. What did I think? How did I feel about me?

Why was it worthwhile going on? Was I happy? Had I ever been happy? Was there any meaning to my life?

Those questions and others went through my head. After I found myself repeating the word no, as in no, I'd never been happy, and no, there wasn't any meaning to my life, I stood up, gripped the rail with both hands, and with tears streaming from my eyes I prepared to jump.

Thoughts of the past and the future vanished from my head as I girded myself for whatever the end would feel like and the start of the next experience, if there was indeed some kind of life after death. I felt my heart beating fast and hard, and I filled up with fear. I wondered if it was going to hurt. If it did, it wouldn't matter for more than an instant, right?

Then, as I began to count my breaths toward the last one, I looked up at the sky. Through puddled eyes, I searched the stars and, though not religious, I asked God for a reason not to jump.

"Just give me a sign," I cried softly. "God, please give me a sign if I'm supposed to go on. I don't care what it is. Just give me something that will let me feel like I have a reason to face tomorrow."

Nothing happened.

"God?"

I don't know why, but I was waiting.

Less than ten seconds later, my cell phone rang. The sound startled me. I didn't get service up in the hills. I took my phone out of my pocket anyway and saw that I had a message. I noticed that it had come in earlier that day, but due to what I supposed was bad cell reception, it didn't get to me until that moment.

What a moment, though. Right?

The message was from a talent executive at MTV saying that I'd been hired as the network's new metal chick VJ. He wanted me to return to New York immediately.

"We know you don't have any experience doing this," he said. "But we saw your tape and we like who you are. So let me know when you can get back here and we'll get you on air."

I listened to the message again. Then I sat down cross-legged on the balcony and cried till I ran out of energy.

Knowing that call had saved my life, I was overwhelmed by emotion. More important than the job was the message itself. Someone had found something worthwhile about me when I had no sense of my own self-worth. Someone wanted me when I was ready to give up. The timing was freakishly amazing. I'd asked for a sign and received a clear statement.

We like you.

That moment was a point when my life seemed to stop and restart, like rebooting a computer after it freezes. Some of the reasons for that were immediately obvious (like the fact that I didn't kill myself) and others became clear to me as I worked to figure out why I didn't like myself, why I was so unhappy, what I was supposed to do with my life, and how I could change to make things better. I remember saying to myself, "One day the pain will be worth it."

At various times I could only hope that was true -- and fortunately it's worked out. Transformation is a lifelong process. The sun doesn't come out overnight. It didn't for me -- and I still have days when the sky is dark and gloomy. But you can change no matter how desperate or dire your circumstances are. For me, it began with baby steps in a direction other than the one I'd been going. In other words, I faced my demons instead of running from them. That was never more true than when my mother lost her eighteen-month battle with brain cancer in 2002, and that's what this book is really about: dealing with life rather than hiding from it.

When I was three years old, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry's wife gave me a big brown-and-white quilt. It was uglier than sin, and I loved it. I wrapped myself in it, wore it like a queen's cape, and if anything shitty happened, which it inevitably did, I hid beneath it. I felt safe under it. It was my secret place, my safe haven.

In writing this book, I want to talk about the things that made me hide under that blanket, and more importantly, I want to talk about the changes I went through when I finally came out from under it. My hope is that one day someone will pick up this book, recognize themselves in these pages, and find hope, strength, and some direction from the way I dealt with my problems. If nothing else, they'll know they aren't alone -- something I frequently wished I'd felt as I struggled through difficult times.

I receive thousands of e-mails every week from people wanting help or advice as they deal with issues that are too familiar to me: body image, drug abuse and alcoholism, cutting, sexual abuse, and simply feeling fucked up and cast off. Recently, a seventeen-year-old girl wrote to me about feeling unloved and neglected by her father. "I've drank myself to the point where I can't feel anything," she wrote. "I've cut myself to the point of passing out. I've smoked pot, snorted pills, and slept with and dated and thought I fell in love with too many different guys just because I needed someone to say they were here for me, cared about me, and noticed when I was not okay."

Another girl corresponded about her suicidal thoughts. "Today I thought I'd lost the battle and thought life would be better without me."

Do I know all the answers? No, and I don't pretend to know them. At twenty-eight, I'm still asking the questions. With my black hair and tattoos, I may look like I have a little more edge than most people, but inside I'm pretty normal. I freak out when I lose my ATM card. I'm addicted to handbags. I just paid a huge bill to the vet. I wish I had more money. Last week was just shitty, but a few weeks before that I got engaged and talked seriously about having babies. In other words, I'm living every day just like everyone else. Sometimes it's good. Other times it sucks.

Life doesn't happen by itself. There's no magic formula. There's no book of directions to follow. There's no map leading to the place you want to end up. A situation that seems overwhelming is really part of an ocean of experiences. You have to push through. Keep on truckin', as the saying goes. Don't stay in a rut. Don't look to blame other people. Look for solutions.

If there's a reason I'm around today to write this book, it's because I discovered a powerful message in a simple phrase. I think it was coined by motivator Scott Ginsberg, but I first came across it elsewhere.

Anyway, it's this: Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself. I think that's a message to wake up to every day.

And as you'll see, I'm a work in progress -- and that's a good thing.

Copyright 2008 by Mia Tyler

One

Liner Notes

My dad's offhand comment caught me by surprise. We were on our way to New Hampshire to see his parents. We had started our road trip in Massachusetts, where my dad lived. Dad was behind the wheel, while I enjoyed the view from the passenger seat, realizing how much I liked the lush countryside and dense woods compared to the concrete and crowds of New York City, where I lived.

This was the first time Dad and I had ever been alone for this length of time, and it gave us time to talk without interruption, a rarity around him.

We caught each other up on our recent travels and personal lives, then lapsed easily into conversation about the past. For us, it was always a favorite topic. In our own ways, both of us were interested in figuring out what the hell had happened back then. The past was also a fitting topic since we were going to spend the night at the family home on the lake in Sunapee, where I grew up.

"By the way, you should go over to the Gray House and see if you want any of the stuff in it," he said. "I'm going to tear it down."

Wow. The Gray House was an old four-bedroom home. It was next door to the larger, nicer, and completely refurbished residence where I had lived until I turned eleven. I shut my eyes and pictured both places perfectly. Images of my mom and me flooded my head. I could even see the power cords that my mom had run across the lawn from the big home into the Gray House after circumstances had forced us into the less desirable place. We'd stayed there for a year before moving to New York.

"What's in there...

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