Yesterday I walked into the locker room at my gym dripping with water and in a hurry to change out of my swimsuit. I was feeling pretty good about the swim my pregnant body had just completed, and looking forward to many more to come in the next 6 months. I saw two high school aged girls changing when I opened the door. I know they were high school aged because I know one of the girls.
Well, I knew one of the girls, when she was 6 or 7. Let’s call her Annie. Although the last time I talked to Annie was over 10 years ago, I remembered her, because she was one of those kids you don’t forget. One that stands out in a sea of other kids. Annie was hilarious, spunky, confident, and brave. She had the most adorable freckles and a toothless grin that melted your heart. She always made me laugh and had her way of getting what she wanted out of me and any other adult around. She was also beautiful, in the cute way.
As I walked by her yesterday I noted that Annie was now beautiful in the beautiful way. I smiled and said hi to her, and she politely said hi back, although I am pretty sure she did not remember me.
I shut myself in a bathroom stall, a few feet away from where they were standing and couldn’t help but overhear Annie’s friend say, “Ugh. I just feel so fat today."
I sighed, hopefully not too loud. In the seconds before Annie responded I was making up her response in my head. I was cheering for her to say something like, “I don’t want to hear that, you are beautiful.” or “that word isn’t in my vocabulary."
Instead, Annie said, “Me too. I have gained two pounds since yesterday."
In shock, I listened to her continue, “I just feel so disgusting. I talked to my mom about getting plastic surgery. I want to get rid of this and then this would go away too."
I have no idea what “this” was because, remember, I am still hiding in the bathroom stall trying to peel my wet swimsuit off. Annie’s friend must have agreed that “this” needed to go, because she didn’t say anything else and the next thing I heard was silence.
I flashed back to myself at her age. I certainly had similar thoughts, although not as extreme, and I would have never said them out loud. That type of self trash talking just wasn’t done in my amazingly unique group of friends.
I wanted to chase her down and tell her she was wrong. That she was beautiful both inside and out. Even more I wanted to ask her what had happened? What happened in her life to make her change from the confident girl I knew to the woman I heard today? Because if she has those thoughts, then so does every other teenage girl in existence.
Is that where we are? Just accepting that those types of thoughts are a part of life? That every girl has to go through a self-hating stage?
What a waste. A complete waste of time, energy, emotions, and potential.
I don’t accept it. Not for my daughter. Not for my nieces. Not for my friends.
What are we going to do about it?
I know that I am going to give it everything I have and what I have it quite a bit. I am going to do everything within my power to make sure that those thoughts never cross Ina’s beautiful mind.
I am going to tell every woman and girl that I know (including you) that God designed you like a piece of art. You were created with intention for a beautiful purpose. Then I am going to tell you that Jesus loves you beyond measure. I love you. You are loved. You are worthy.
Oh, and please don’t get plastic surgery.