A letter to young girls: You are 'enough'
Dear Young Girl:I overheard you talking to your friends at the mall. You were all talking about how you had grown fat. I was surprised to hear this, as you all were tiny. Surely, you couldn't believe what you were saying, when you looked like you...
Dear Young Girl:
I overheard you talking to your friends at the mall. You were all talking about how you had grown fat. I was surprised to hear this, as you all were tiny. Surely, you couldn't believe what you were saying, when you looked like you wore size 3 jeans. At first I was a little miffed at the superficiality and vanity of it all. But then I remembered what it was like to be 14 or 15, and I understood.
While I don't have daughters, I do know your struggle. I can't speak to you as a parental figure, which may actually be an advantage because what teenager wants to listen to their parents? No, I'm not a mom, but I can give you my perspective as a daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, niece and friend. You really have no reason to listen to me or believe me. But I'm just going to tell you a few things I'd wished someone had told me when I was your age.
Here is what I have to say: Enough.
You are enough. Even when you look in the mirror and see nothing but flaws, you are actually more remarkable than you can imagine. Your body is a miracle - perfectly calibrated and engineered to do everything from run marathons to heal itself from serious injury. It deserves your love and respect, as it is the only "vehicle" you will own in your lifetime.
Just as it is strong and amazing, it is also a fragile and susceptible to abuse. If you think your body needs to be shamed or starved or exercised into submission, you're sadly mistaken. If shaming our bodies to be thin worked, I would weigh 110 pounds - and so would every other woman in America.
Please remember that our culture benefits from telling you that you aren't enough. If you didn't hear constantly from advertisers that you aren't thin/white-toothed/clear-skinned/well dressed enough, you wouldn't be convinced that you need to spend money to finally be enough. You wouldn't buy makeup or designer clothing or try to convince your parents that you are old enough to get a nose job. Nobody would profit from your insecurity and, more likely than not, you wouldn't grow up believing that you needed to look like a Photoshopped supermodel.
Most importantly, you need to appreciate how you look right now. You may hate to hear this, but trust me. The day will come when you look back and think, "Man, I was thin. Why did I waste all that time and energy thinking I was fat and that I needed to change? I would give anything to look and feel like I did then."
It's true. Regardless of how much you dislike your looks, be assured that - 10 years from now - you will reflect back and thinking: "I looked sooo good!"
So own it. Own where you are and what you are right now. (Trust me. I have the size 3 prom gown in my closet to prove it.)
You are enough.
Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org .