16 March 2015

An open letter to teenage girls

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Dear precious teenage girl

So you want bigger boobs / a thigh gap / shiny hair / a flat tummy / whatever. You want it so badly that it's always there in the back of your mind. You just don't think you can be happy if you can't have it. Without it, you're just not good enough - or at least that's how it feels.


You've chosen an arbitrary feature or figure, that happens to be in fashion right now, and you've decided that if you don't have it you're not quite good enough. You've chosen to let this goal, this quite possibly unattainable goal, determine whether or not you are happy, whether or not you accept and love your body or yourself, when it's a luck-of-the-draw, random chance of having it or not having it.

So, society / the media / your peers have decided that this particular figure or feature, bigger boobs / a thigh gap / shiny hair / a flat tummy / whatever, is better than the many alternatives. And if you don't have it, you don't get to be happy.

Who do they think they are?? Who gave them the authority to decide how you should look? And why on earth would you give so much power to someone / something so shallow?? If you meet society's / the media's / your peers' standard you get to be happy and accepted and if you don't you don't? What a crock.

Okay, so let's say that through some lucky fluke you happen to have bigger boobs / a thigh gap / shiny hair / a flat tummy / whatever. You meet that standard. You look just how society / the media / your peers have decided you should look.

So what? Does that make you a better person? Do you get a medal? Will it help you meet your goals in life? What difference does it make??

You put so much emotional energy into something that is beyond your control and, frankly, doesn't even matter. Or shouldn't matter, anyway.

I would love to see you spend less time focusing on the parts of your body that don't quite meet this random, currently-in-fashion standard, and more time appreciating the beauty you possess. The warmth of your smile, the shine in your eyes as you talk passionately about something that excites you, the grace and mystery of your changing body as you evolve from child to woman.

I'd love to see you put less importance on how your body looks, and more on what it does. Appreciate the strength and health you have. The energy that you possess. The way your body helps you to do the things you enjoy, that you are passionate about. Nurture your body, just as it is. Honour it, be amazed at the wonder of your body and what it allows you to do.

I'd love to see you care less about how fashion decides you should look, and care more about the kind of woman you're becoming. Foster the empathy and kindness within you, know that you are strong, develop the intelligence you possess, share your sense of humour, help others, be generous and kind. Have dreams, set goals, and work towards them. Dreams that are bigger and more important and certainly more life changing and relevant to your long term happiness than whether or not you possess bigger boobs / a thigh gap / shiny hair / a flat tummy / whatever.

This ridiculous one-size-fits-all standard, this impossible dream - you are so much more than that. It's beneath you.
What if you loved your body anyway, despite your small breasts / shapely thighs / crazy hair / rounded tummy? What if you chose to respect and honour the body you're in, rather than long for the body you don't have? What if you chose to treat yourself and think of yourself as being just right the way you are - that you're in just the right body for you. What if you enjoyed and celebrated the differences we all have, and revel in your uniqueness, rather than trying to be a clone? What if you gave up comparing yourself to anyone else, and just focused on trying to be the best version of you that you can be? What if you chose to believe that you are good enough, that you are beautiful, and that having bigger boobs / a thigh gap / shiny hair / a flat tummy / whatever just plain doesn't matter?

What would your life look like then? Can you begin to imagine the freedom and peace?

It's a choice. I know it doesn't feel like it, but it is. You can choose to engage in the games and give your power away, or you can take it right back and walk your own path. A path on which it doesn't even matter whether or not you have bigger boobs / a thigh gap / shiny hair / a flat tummy / whatever. Because you know you are so much more than that.

I hope you begin to choose a path of freedom and happiness. I hope you can choose to let go. It probably won't happen right away, but it won't happen at all unless you decide to make some changes in the way you think and the things you care about. I really hope you do. Because you are so worth it and you deserve so much better than the dissatisfaction you live with now.

With love,

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