you don't have to be small to be beautiful

Hi friends! Happy Monday :) This year, I'm trying something a little different on my blog. Each month, beginning today, I'll pick a topic on which to focus. In January, I'm tackling body image. I'm hoping that having a specific topic will allow me to go a little deeper and connect more with you. 

Body image not for you?  No worries! I'll see you next month for the February topic - singleness, dating & relationships :) 

In first grade, my feet were almost as big as our teacher's. She was famously tiny in our school system, known for being just slightly taller than her students. But, when a boy in our class pointed out that our feet almost matched, my seven-year-old brain recognized that this was embarrassing. 

I've been tall for as long as I can remember. I hit a growth spurt early and never had that middle-school-slow-down many girls experience - where they start seventh grade as the tallest girl and end eighth grade as the shortest. I started tall and ended tall and have never known anything else. 

For the record, I love being tall.

In a lot of ways, it has become an identifier. I love having long legs and, when I stand up my very straightest, I love it that people ask: how tall are you? It used to bother me - making me feel ashamed or like I was taking up too much space; plaguing them with all my inches. But now? 5'10! I tell them proudly.  

As I continue to coach women, though, I have found a lot of tall girls struggle with body image - feeling automatically like they are "big" or too much.

If you have a tall friend, you might notice a tendency to slouch. This is, almost undoubtedly, a habit she picked up in middle school, when she was already 5'8 and not one (1!) single boy had yet hit puberty. She, therefore, towered over those 5'2 fellas and took matters into her own hands by shrinking down as small as possible. It is probably ingrained in her - something she barely knows she does anymore - trying to make herself smaller and stand out less. 

As a taller girl, it's easy to allow yourself to believe that you have to be more passive so you aren't perceived as manly. For a long time, I didn't understand why I was so afraid of the androgynous clothing trend,  and then I realized it was because I was scared of looking masculine.

As I began to notice this, I started to wonder: who decided that smaller was more feminine and beautiful? 

The world teaches us that we must be smaller than men and, if we aren't, we must take drastic measures to prove that we're still feminine. The world has taught us to take up less space

If you're tall, the world absolutely praises (& worships) you if you're really skinny. Just like, I would imagine, the world praises short girls who are also very petite. The problem, of course, is that not every tall girl is meant to be waif-like, just like not every short girl is meant to be super petite.

And guess what? They're still beautiful. They're all still beautiful.  

Throughout my 20s, I've spent a lot of timing exploring the world's narrow perception of beauty, why our body's function is more important than its form and how to love and appreciate the temple that it is

I went for a walk with a friend recently and she said: I think all women struggle with disordered eating habits to some degree. 

How sad, I thought, that on some level, most women are calculating or restricting or watching a number. Whenever I find a woman who is so sure of her body - so comfortable with it for what it naturally is and not what she has forced it to become, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. It's so refreshing and life-giving to be in the presence of her certainty and freedom. 

I can't help but wonder: what if we all approached our bodies this way?

What if we woke up every day thinking: my body rocks. What if we believed our beauty had nothing to do with how dainty we are? What if we stopped worrying about the parts of us that are too big or too small and, instead, loved our bodies exactly as they are? 

What if we appreciated our bodies because they allow us to run and jump and dance our pants off? What if we valued them because they allow us to learn new things and make new friends? 

What if we believed we were fearfully and wonderfully made - with the bodies we are meant to have, no matter how big or small? 

I think it would be beautiful.