I recently walked into a conversation as a group of girls was talking about losing weight. They were outlining diets they'd each tried - recounting what they'd cut, how much they'd exercised and comparing each one by the numbers. I excused myself instantly and, as soon as I did, my heart began to ache.
Why does every girl think she's fat?
I couldn't help but wonder for the remainder of the night. Why do these beautiful, wonderful people I'm surrounded with think they need to change?
If you listen for it, every day you'll hear girls having conversations, big and small, about the ways they need to change their bodies. There are cookies they should not eat and classes at the gym they should attend. There are self-deprecating conversations about wanting smaller this and flatter that. About wanting to tone up and slim down. These are tiny, daily admissions that reveal, over and over again: I believe I am not enough as I am.
Why aren't we able to be confident in who we are and grateful for the bodies we have?
Whose idea was it to convince every girl, everywhere that something about her is incomplete? There is a constant posture of not enough and of needing to change.
But I don't think it has to be this way.
I want to cultivate a posture of enough. I want to believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, just as I am. That calories aren't meant to be counted, but enjoyed. That exercise isn't meant to be used as a tool to earn a meal. That exercise is beautiful because is allows us to feel the fullness of our strength and the wind in our hair.
I've been thinking a lot about what I wish I'd said when I walked in on that conversation. What I wish I'd been brave enough to reveal, instead of remaining silent. If I had the chance again, here's what I'd say:
I wish you wouldn't be so hard on yourself.
Because you are beautiful. You are enough as you are. I wish you could see yourself through my eyes instead of the microscope that you use to pick apart pieces of your body. I wish you could see the way your smile can light up a room when you laugh without insecurity. I wish you could see the way you connect with people when you love vulnerably.
I wish you could see yourself the way the world sees you - as someone who is strong and able and beautiful - instead of as a number on a scale or on your pants. Not as a work in progress, in need of change through a Pure Barre class and a cardio session, but instead as someone who is totally, completely enough.
I wish you wouldn't be so hard on yourself for me. Because when you pick yourself apart, it makes me wonder how you see me. If you think your stomach isn't flat enough, what do you think when you see mine? If you think you need to diet before your wedding, what will you say about me before mine? If you think you need to be longer, leaner, firmer and tighter, do you think I do, too? The way we love ourselves is, ultimately, how we love others. If you cannot love yourself for you, can you still love me for me?
I wish you wouldn't be so hard on yourself for our future daughters. Someday, she will watch you. And she will wonder, if you think you are fat, what you think about her. She will wonder if you pick her apart when you see her in the bathtub, just like you pick your body own apart. And someday, she will grow up and wonder why she doesn't like parts of her body. She might not know exactly why, but she will know that she, too, needs to be smaller and firmer.
But most of all, I wish you wouldn't be so hard on yourself because you were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a wonderful work. And you deserve to know it full well and believe it deeply.