Be The Change You Want To See
Dear 16-year-old self,
I am writing you a letter regarding your body. You do not cherish it right now, but you should. It’s important to pay attention to what your body is telling you, and what your body needs. I want to tell you some things that took me a little bit too long to learn:
• Even though you developed slower than the other girls in your class, you are sexy and hot and beautiful and cute. You do not need boys or girls to tell you that you’re hot—you are, trust me.
• A small chest does not mean that you are less than those who have bigger chests. Your mommy always had a small chest and she is the most beautiful woman in the world. You have a great body, and you do not need to worry, and you definitely do not need to compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone is beautiful, despite what the media says.
• Turn off the ads, and throw away the bad magazines. You don’t need to listen to unrealistic societally constructed beauty standards. You will study beauty standards, feminism, and some reasons why girls and women are so falsely represented in the media. It’s powerful and empowering.
• Don’t ever be afraid to express yourself, and don’t feel like you have to wear things or do things a certain way to fit in. If you’re trying to fit in for certain people, they aren’t worth your time and energy. You only need people around you who will love you for exactly who you are.
• You have never been afraid to wear unique clothes that other people aren’t wearing, so don’t stop. I know in high school you struggle to find your place, but I just want to tell you that it gets better, and not everyone in high school is worth the stress. Just spend time with those who you love, and remember to spend time just with yourself too.
• Love yourself. That is the biggest thing that I’ve learned in college. You will not be able to love anyone else until you can love yourself. I know that you have dealt with a lot already in your life, but you are so worthy of love. This is the biggest message that I want to give you. I know that you stopped loving yourself a couple years ago, but you need to regain that love. Don’t let the boy who took advantage of you take that self-worth away from you. Don’t let your moms’ separation make you feel like it was your fault, and do not take your sadness and guilt out by self-harming; it is not worth it. Don’t let your brother distancing himself from you define how you view yourself. It’s okay to go to parties, but you don’t need to use alcohol and drugs to drown out the noise of your mind. You have an incredible mind, body, and soul—so listen to it, learn everything you can about it, and love it.
• Throw away the index card that you keep calorie tallies on. Throw away the books you have about juice cleanses and fasting. These methods are not healthy, and they are not for you. Most importantly, throw away your scale, and tell your moms that you want theirs to be hidden where you cannot find it. Remember to feed your body. The earlier the better to get rid of disordered eating. You may not know that your problem is serious, but it is. Open up to people about it, and don’t hold it in. After eating disorder rehab I know that one main reason for the behaviors that you practice are because you feel like you don’t have control. It’s okay for some things to be out of your control. I know that you and mommy both struggle with the unknown, but it’s okay to just let some things unfold before you. It will work out, and while some things don’t go as you planned, you will be happier if you can learn the art of letting go earlier than I did.
• Drink a lot of water. Water will help everything. When you have time, cut up lemons and cucumbers to put in your water. Your family will joke about it being spa water, but you are worth the fancy water. And it’s delicious.
• Cook, especially with mama. You will be stuck with a dorm kitchen for three years in college, so take advantage of your kitchen at home, and all of the amazing things that mama can cook. Remember to enjoy the food after you cook it. Don’t rush to go to your room, and don’t leave half the meal on your plate. Take your time and enjoy it.
• Sleep. It is the most important thing, right up there with water and self-love. You struggle with anxiety dreams because of trauma and general anxiety, but try your best to meditate or relax before you enter your bed to sleep. Reading may also help, and your mama’s back rubs are the best medicine.
• Listen to music, relax, read books, go outside a lot. It’s easy to stay in bed all day watching TV, and sometimes it’s fine to do that. But it’s also important to get sunshine, and to exercise your mind and creativity. Go paint outside, go on walks around your neighborhood, and go on drives to the beach and the forest. You live in an incredible space. Your town will seem to small at times, but look at all of the nature around you, and embrace it.
• Embrace your life, and your body. You are wonderful, and you deserve the world. Listen to your body, care for your body, and most importantly love your body.