This summer I was given the following assignment:
"Please write a letter to an adolescent girl who is struggling with body image concerns about the costs associated with pursuing the thin ideal..."
The assignment was daunting and overwhelming and I don't like writing off of prompt. However, I was told to look at a picture of my younger self and think of what I wanted to say to her. Putting it into that perspective allowed the words to flow. In honor of #NEDAwareness week, I want to share the letter, for all of the young girls. And older women. And boys. And humans in general.
Dear little me- That feeling in the pit of your stomach and on the back of your neck when you're called on in class or asked to participate? That is anxiety. And you will face anxiety provoking situations for the rest of your life. The key is to participate in life anyways. You can't stand on the sidelines and wait for the feeling to pass, because avoidance only gives power to the anxiety. So dress up for spirit week, participate in field day, speak up. I know you don't like people looking at you and I know that you're very aware of your body. Body awareness is not always a bad thing-as long as your remember that you are more than your body. Appreciate your body for as long as you can. Be aware that you have a body and that it's capable of many things. You may grow up hearing "oh you're so tiny, so cute, so little". And you might be. But you are so much more than that.
You are a culmination of many things. You are made up of your memories and experiences, what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. You are made up of your favorite foods and the songs you like to sing and your plans for the future. You are the light that shines in your eyes when you get excited about something. You are made up of your favorite subject in school and your intelligence that helps you to understand these things. You are a child of Christ and you are made up of so many wonderful things.
There are also so many things that you are not. You are not your pants size, or the number on a scale, or the amount of money in your bank account. You are more than the number of friends you have or the sports you play.
I know this may sound very easy right now, but it does get harder. Appreciate your family for all they do for you, and understand and realize that they are not perfect, and neither are you. So as life throws you challenges, face them head on. But please. Hold yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection. Because there is no such thing as perfect and the pursuit of the unattainable comes at a high price. When trying to become "perfect", you may lose yourself and lose control. I know you may feel like you can handle it and like you have it all under control, and you might, for a little while. But in the pursuit of trying to become someone you're not, you will lose friends and time and happiness and money. And eventually the thing you so desire to control will end up controlling you.