An Open Letter to Teenage Girls
Dear Teenage Girl,
How goes it? Life, that is. Kind of an overarching question, I know. I guess what I mean is, your relationship with you. So much of teenagehood is spent concerned about other people – what she said, what he thinks about you – that it’s easy to avoid really having to deal with yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a life long process. It’s not like you’re gonna get it all figured out in six years, but now’s a good time to start. When I say ‘getting to grips’ with who you are, I don’t want you to confuse that with beating yourself up. And I bet you’ve been doing a fair bit of that. I bet you’ve walked passed a mirror today and held your stomach in, or talked to a friend about how flabby your arms are, how you want a butt like Nicki Minaj or bemoaned the fact that your B cup chest doesn’t runneth over.
You’ve probably had a fair few conversations about how your thighs are wobbly, or you’ve done some price comparisons on cellulite creams, looked into laser hair removal, prayed to the God of abs to bestow upon you a midriff like that of Beyonce.
And no doubt you shun sports at school. Changing in front of others is embarrassing. Everyone’s assessing each other’s bodies. Not to mention that fact that you’d actually sweat if you took part in lessons of a sporting nature, then you wouldn’t look perfect – and that’s all that matters, right?
Well I’m here to tell you to take your power back. Starting today, love your body. You are awesome and you are enough, just the way you are.
See, the game is rigged. They want us to hate ourselves. If we didn’t, a whole lot of industries would be out of business. They need us to constantly think we aren’t good enough, we need to improve, we just need a nip here, a tuck there, some eyeliner and a butt lift and all will be OK with the world. All those magic potions and creams are there to make us think we need to be ‘fixed’, that we aren’t OK.
You are enough.
Your body is wonderful.
Start working out. Not because you want to lose weight (you don’t need to), but because you love your body. Find some form of exercise that you love, whatever it may be, and do it til you collapse in fits of laughter with your friends. Get sweaty. Embrace your sweat. Wear your sweaty, red face as a badge of honour. And it is just that – you honour your body when you work out. You’ll discover how mean you’ve been to it these years – how you didn’t appreciate how awesome it feels to lift heavy things with no help, how your heart, lungs and legs will keep running as long as your mind wills them to, so you’ll never miss a bus again. If you’re ever in trouble, you’ll know your body can run to get help. Dance all night and feel that glorious ache in your muscles the next day, as if they’re thanking you for using them for something so awesome.
Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it and want to change it. Your body is beautiful and powerful beyond belief, just as it is. And most importantly, it is yours. You are so much more than a sexual object. Your physical being is here for more than being looked at and desired. You do not need to conform to any socially ‘acceptable’ standard of beauty. You are who you are. Don’t let them police your body. Take ownership of it.
Be strong, be powerful, be brave.
Get into the life long habit of honouring your body by working out now. Your future self will thank you for it.
With sincere hugs,