This week I was in the dressing room at Tj Max and I overheard a couple of teenage girls in the dressing room next to me. This is how their conversation went:
Girl 1:I gained more weight this winter than I thought I did, I look awful in these shorts…like a beached whale.
Girl 2: try this on instead.
Girl 1: I’m so fat! I hate it!! I look awful next to everyone else. I’m never eating again!
In the dressing room at Target the next day… (yeah I know, I shopped a lot this week!)
Girl 1: what are you thinking? I feel like you guys are judging me
Girl 2: we’re not judging you, we’re just helping you shop.
Girl 1: this dress is out, I hate it
Girl 2: we don’t even get to see it on you?
Girl 1: no, I hate myself in it!
….. It made me so sad. Now, I never saw any of these girls after they left the dressing room. But I wanted to hug them. I wanted to tell them they are beautiful and they aren’t fat and that someone loves them and someday they will grow up and they can be anything they want to be.
I started thinking about our current society and how we treat others. This is a topic that is on my mind pretty much 24/7. The pressure stemmed from the judgement within our society is incredible. Pressure to be skinny, and waif like with doll sized wrists and ankles to match. Every magazine is plastered with the latest diets/cleanses that the hottest celebs are trying and Oh, Look! They must be working because look how skinny they are on this magazine cover! (And I am sorry but a cayenne pepper/lemon juice cleanse sounds just atrocious to me. Tell you what, I will support your weight loss goals by taking you for a run to help you get in shape instead of pooping your pants every five minutes. Doesn’t that sound like more fun??)
I had a conversation with a friend last week regarding a particular dance studio in our area and how it’s instructor weighs the dancers weekly. Weighs them. —>there are one million reasons that this is wrong. It disgusts me. I can’t even continue to write about THAT right now except to say that the instructor should not be allowed near children.
I think back to when I was a kid. If someone had asked me when I was 13 if I thought my best friend was a big girl or a skinny girl, well I couldn’t tell you that. I didn’t notice if my best friend was skinny or fat, but I would have told you: that she was my best friend who walked with me everywhere, would split a brownie sundae at Mikes Ice Cream with me and played one million games of spit to pass those summer days. I couldn’t tell you if my mom was fat or skinny but I could have told you that she loved me and made me respect myself and every single person around me.
I never saw people as a category of “skinny” verses “fat”. When did our society change? Was it just me who never saw people in categories? One of my “mom” friends and I agree that we, as kids, never see people this way, and she grew up cheerleading. Unfortunately, her daughter already is aware of body consciousness because of kids around her who worry about their own weight and body image. She is eight. Can we change the images in the minds of the kids that surround our own?? How?
Sure, when I was a teen I was more aware of my body but it was more ” hey WOW, things are changing” rather than “wow I need to lose weight”. I can’t remember being in a dressing room bashing myself, or swearing I would never eat again…I really can’t. And I’m not that old. When did this happen??
Body consciousness is starting girls younger than ever. We have to start combating this with messages of POSITIVITY. I want to encourage girls to take control of how they view themselves. We are the images we project out onto our society: to change the trend of hating on yourself, you have to change the way you view things, right?
Of course I am aware of my own body: I know when I am being judged by others. I’m a runner for goodness sake. I am accutely aware of my own body. I have boobs, I have curves, and strong legs that will beat that girl with the twig legs in a race. Strong is sexy and I am strong. And the god dam thigh gap is overrated anyway.
I try very, very hard not to compare myself to others and that is sometimes hard. I’m not saying, by any means, that I’m perfect. I am human and of course I have my own moments of getting down on myself. Now more than ever that has to stop. When I have my own kids I will try to always show positivity and encouragement and remind them that they shouldn’t compare themselves to others. It’s GOOD to be different and unique because that’s what makes you, YOU.
To every teen girl struggling with their own vision of themselves…
To the girl who gained a little weight over the wintertime and doesn’t like herself….
To anyone comparing themselves to the girl next to them and thinking she is prettier/skinnier/looks better than you……