I was crammed into a tiny dressing room; sweaty and tangled in my pants, trying on swimsuits in the most unflattering light possible. Because when you are trying on bathing suits, ten mirrors and 1000 watt fluorescent lighting is exactly what you need.
As I was trying on yet another top, I heard a girl crying because she was, “so fat,” and “so disgusting.” When I came out, I saw a girl who was all of 12 years old and was the tiniest little thing. This is the girl who thought she was disgusting and fat. How totally depressing.
Sadly, I realized I was doing the same exact thing in my head. The whole time I was trying on swimsuits, I had a running commentary of all the things “wrong” with my body. Instead of appreciating how strong and healthy my body is, I was focusing on perceived flaws. No amount of milk drinking is going to make my legs longer. I’m never going to be willowy at 5′ 5″ or have straight hair. These are genetic facts. I have a Masters Degree, a fulfilling, successful career and an amazing circle of family and friends…and I’m worried about cankles. OMG.
This is not the attitude that I want to pass on to the next generation of young women!
Thankfully, people smarter than me are working on it.
Melissa Wardy, creator of the website Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies is one of those people. When her daughter was 9 months old, she had an epiphany:
“Why in the world is my generation, the most educated, most well-traveled, most worldly generation of women ever…why are my contemporaries still raising our girls to wish upon a star in hopes that her prince may someday come? Why aren’t we teaching our girls to get into her rocket ship and find that star all on her own?”
Her website is devoted to changing the way we think about girls (“Redefine Girly”) and also educating us about media literacy, marketing, sexualization, gender stereotypes, and body image. It is home to the Waking Up Full of Awesome blog post that went viral and is currently hanging in my office. Feel free to buy me the t-shirt.
And there are people like my busy, busy, busy friend, Megan “Madge” Dietz, who writes about body image at Be Less Crazy, which includes the astonishingly helpful post Be Less Crazy While Shopping. She also released a book in June, Be Less Crazy About Your Body. Read the intro here at the Hairpin. I wish I could post the entire book right here, but I’ll give you some favorite highlights. Make sure you don’t miss the story, “The Best Time I Was A 200 Pound Beauty Queen.” Try the cringe therapy. I did it with my wedding video. Write a list of all the cool things your body does. If you’re lucky, someday you’ll see my list.
“Let me ask you this: 40 years from now, when you and I are rad old ladies cruising around the solar system in extravagant glowy caftans, do you want to hear girls asking Does this jetpack make me look fat? I swear to Mars, I will [xxxx] lose it. I will flip over a table and terrify everyone with my freakish oldster strength. Hold me back!”
The answer is NO. I’m done slinking around the pool, worrying about knee wrinkles and my butt.
THE SANITY BEGINS TODAY!
-suzy, who swears her next couple of posts won’t be so heavy