A friend recently shared with me a picture she found when looking through old boxes. It was a picture of us in high school, getting ready to go to a party or something. We were all dressed up in skirts and halter tops with a tiny sliver of midriff showing. Haha, it was quite the early 2000s throwback!
I was immediately taken back to that night. I actually remember it very clearly. I was frustrated with my mom because she wouldn’t let me wear skirts as short as my friends did, and I was frustrated with my body because I wanted it to be smaller.
Hindsight is 20/20...while I don’t want to invalidate my very real teenage emotions, I definitely feel differently today. There was no need for my skirt to be any shorter than it was (and it was really only an inch or two longer than my friends’ anyway, ha!)
AND that body was so tiny...at least compared to what it looks like today.
Thinking back to that moment made me feel angry; angry at a society that values smaller bodies and more skin showed as the feminine ideal. Angry that I was soooo heavily influenced by those ideals I couldn’t fully enjoy a fun moment with friends that should’ve been nothing but carefree and FUN!
And it made me sad. I feel sad for that girl who so early on received the message that she wasn’t good enough. That she needed to fit into a certain mold to be liked or valued. And I feel sad for the millions of young women who feel that way right now.
If I could tell them one thing, it would be this: If you want the shortcut to real happiness, spend more time getting to know yourself and what YOU value than worrying about the values and priorities of others, or whether you “fit in.”
You’re going to be a lot more fun an interesting if you stop trying to fit in, and live unabashedly in line with your own personality and values! As long as your body physically feels good, then it IS good, and you don’t need to shrink it or tone it or manipulate it … doing that WILL NOT make you happier.
I’m SO thankful for where I am today in realizing these things, and there’s no point in living in the past and feeling angry/sad about what I felt then. BUT these reminders are SUPER helpful - to remind us of how far we’ve come and to re-focus us on what really matters going forward.
So I’m thankful to that friend who triggered me with that picture.
Sometimes it’s good to be triggered, because acknowledging uncomfortable emotions can lead to so much insight and improvement.
Is there a time in your life you look back to and it immediately makes you notice how far you’ve come? That reminds you of the values you’ve developed and the fears/worries you’d never want to return to? I’d love to hear!