This is a picture of me and my brother at my dad’s house in Hubbard, OH.
The recliner is behind us and the magazine rack next to the door.

Semi truck.
Light bulb.

If you envisioned any of these objects, you’ve experienced what research proves.

We think in pictures. Our minds create images and anchor concepts in something that is relatable. In technical terms, it’s called “schema.”

By design, I am a visual learner, so viewing pictures and reading words are how I learn best. So it’s no wonder that I enjoyed the visual stimulation of pornography.

According to the Barna Group and Covenant Eyes, initial exposure to pornography begins in childhood and progresses. The average age that a child is first exposed to porn is 11 years old.

I was six.

Well, I may have been younger, but it was the first time I can actually recall.

A few times a month, we would go to visit my dad at his house in Hubbard, Ohio.
Sometimes we would have a special treat and go out to dinner, but more often than not, my stepmother, Mary Beth, would make a home-cooked meal. Her homemade mac and cheese was my fave.

After dinner, my dad would take his place in his recliner which sat in front of the large picture window in the front of the house, just a few feet from a large screen tube television.

A lamp was positioned next to the chair on an end table and on the other side a magazine holder was positioned on the floor. Inside was a mixture of Guns and Ammo, firearm catalogs, Playboy and Hustler.
And just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, my dad was not the kind of guy who read Playboy for the articles.

No way.
He was full-on fixated with the Pamela-Anderson-look-alikes that populated the pages.

During his magazine review, he would allow us to watch “our shows.”

My brother and I loved The Muppets and would lay on our bellies, chins propped in our palms, laughing at Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Animal and their other furry friends.

One time in particular, my dad’s magazine reading routine caught my attention–he turned the magazine vertically. Looking up from my prone position on the living room floor, I saw my dad holding the opened magazine, one end in each hand. I learned later that it was the monthly centerfold. He turned the magazine back to its horizontal orientation, and I saw the cover.

I became entranced.

That woman didn’t have any clothes on.
I saw my mom and nana naked many times before, but they did not look like her.
Did my dad like that woman?
Did my dad know that woman?
Did other men like women like this?
Did all men like women like this?
Would I look like that one day?

I remember being grossed out by looking at the near-naked-buxom-beauty, but just like witnessing an accident on the side of the highway, I couldn’t keep from darting glances between Fozzy bear getting a pie in the face and the nearly-nude cover model.

I couldn’t unsee that image.
It was emblazoned in my mind.

It stuck with me, and sadly, became the beginning of many issues for me, including body image, comparison, self-hate, and more–all of which have followed me into adulthood.

Suddenly I became more and more aware and critical of my own body. I began looking at myself in the mirror in my Underroos. I dared not go naked–that just felt dirty.

I was thick.
I couldn’t see my ribs or other defined bones like that of the cover model.
And I certainly didn’t have breasts like the cover girls I hypnotized me.

And so it began.
A vicious cycle of comparison, self-loathing and self-hatred.

I was a child, yet I was evaluating my body to those of airbrushed pin-up girls in “nude-y magazines.”

I know now–thank God for therapy–that I saw the pleasure that my dad experienced from looking at these magazines and wanted so much to earn his approval and recognition. I wondered, “If I look like them, will my dad love me?”

And worse yet, I couldn’t wait for the next month’s Playboy to be released. I was addicted to pornography.

From then on, I witnessed my dad looking at these magazines frequently. Every time I saw him open a Playboy or a Hustler, I would sneak peek the cover, never wanting to be caught, but so captivated–yearning to see the images.

Was it a blonde or brunette this month?
Was this month’s model prettier than last month’s?
What did her breasts look like?

But then one day, porn acquired a name.
And a face that I knew personally.