Yesterday I spoke to a girl.
At a glance I could see she was beautiful.
Within a minute I could tell she was smart.
Within our conversation I found her to be wonderful.
But before I found all of this I could sense other things…. Lost, broken, searching for answers that wouldn’t come, insecure in a way I’ve seen mirrored in the face of women everywhere, aching for a love that wouldn’t fill her.
As she left me, I was, as I often am, impacted forever.
Hours later I couldn’t wipe her from my memory…. Her words haunted me, as they often do.
Yesterday I cried because there was nothing that I could do… today I write because I realise I can do so much. For her. For all of them.
“If only I could be prettier… then maybe he would want me… I just want to be more like HER- so that he would chose me”
She put into words what is plaguing so many young women. But not in the way that can be cried, and then wiped away. But in a way that sees them obsessing over their body parts, starving their bodies (affecting their concentration today and their health forever) and despite all of this continuing to feel inadequate and insecure.
I said to her “who you are is enough”. I don’t suppose she would have believed me.
What I want to do is write these words on top of every billboard, magazine or movie that has caused women to compare their body to an altered image. But more than that I want the women I know, the good, strong, amazing women I know to wake up and realise that we aren’t that far ahead of this young woman.
Though we walk ahead of her in age, life experience and maturity… we walk beside her when it comes to the struggle with body image.
I’m writing this to tell you- I understand. I know it’s been hard. I know we have been bombarded with images and ideals, expectations and confusing messages that have seen us hating our bodies (or at least part of it) and wanting after other peoples bodies (or at least part of them). I know it’s been rough and I know society has hurt us in this regard. But here it is… we need to grow up. We need to embrace the body that we have been given. We need to stop speaking violent and damaging words over our own bodies… No! You are not “disgusting”! No you are not “repulsive”! You are beautiful! Created in the image of God.
I’m crying as I write this – because for the first time yesterday (I’m not sure how I missed it before) but I saw OUR issues written on the face of this teenage girl. I saw for the first time, that unless we (the women, the ones who should know better) get past this issue… then these girls that I speak to- they never will! Where are their examples of overcoming this issue? Where are the role models they so desperately need? Where are the mothers who are proud of their bodies? Their curves, their stretch marks, their extra skin, their “too big” or “too small” breasts?
I probably wont see this girl again. But if I did, I would tell her.
You are beautiful and so am I
You are strong and I am strong too.
You don’t need to compare yourself to an image on a screen because who you are; body, soul and spirit, will always be far more beautiful than any image could ever be.
These girls, they are young, they are fragile, they are hopeful, they are afraid… they need us.