For most women who talk about weight, they begin with the same story. “I’ve always struggled with my weight.” “My weight has always fluctuated.” But for me?
Actually, it’s not that I’ve always struggled with my weight. It’s that I’ve always struggled with the idea of struggling with my weight. There are pictures of me as a tall, lanky kid with abs. I ran around outside constantly, dancing, pretending I was a gymnast, and just generally doing dangerous stunts like any child from the Midwest.
I can still pinpoint the exact moment that I decided to embrace the struggle that so many women before me were (happy? complacent?) to take on. I was reading a health book for class and I was close to turning 10. The book stated that the average weight of a 10-year-old was 100lbs. For some reason, I thought that average and healthy were the same thing, so I fell with open arms into all the food I could now eat, because somehow that book gave me permission.
I used to stop eating when I was full. This was the turning point when I decided to stop doing so.
Now let me stop you here. If you’re thinking that this post is about how I’m lamenting that I’m not skinny, that I don’t look like the women that I’m told to look like, let me tell you that you’re wrong.
This is about lamenting that I ever felt that I needed to look a certain way because something said so. This is what is wrong with how we treat young women today. We refuse to understand how impressionable a child is.
Immediately after having gained the weight, I learned that I shouldn’t have gained the weight, according to television and movies and magazines and books and the Internet (by this time there was Internet). Thus, I started to struggle with my weight. And now, I most likely have a food addiction problem. Do you know what the worst addiction is? Food. Why? Well, you can live without alcohol, you can live without heroin, you can live without cigarettes and caffeine.
Guess what you can’t live without.
All of this rambling to say this: Stop telling our girls how they need to look. Do you know how frustrating it is to hear a young girl say that she can’t eat something because she’ll gain weight? Or she can’t cut her hair because “guys like long hair”? It’s infuriating, and it causes us problems down the road.
I’m getting better. I’m slowly learning to like how I look. But how much better would it be if young women were taught to embrace their looks when they were young, instead of waiting until their late 20s to figure out that it’s okay to love yourself?