My Minnesota white skin was hot from the gorgeous Arizona sun and I closed my eyes trying to absorb every molecule of vitamin D.
Happy. I was so happy to be warm to be with friends and to be relaxing by the pool. The three of us, we have known each other since we were twelve. Through puberty; break-ups, college, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and aging. We are like sisters the three of us. Bickering and rolling our eyes at each other, laughing until our sides ache and crying over each other’s pain. We are real and honest with each other.
We sat at the pool happy to be relaxing in the sun, until a group of teenagers strutted past us in their miniature bikinis.
They were not strutting around all proud, they were just walking as if every day they walk around in barely nothing covering their skin. It wasn’t the bikinis we noticed. It was their bodies. All three of them, with their undamaged skin and perky everything.
We stared at them. Ok, were gawking.
I can’t believe they didn’t throw something at us while we gazed at them with our mouths dropping on the floor.
Because their bodies, so young and so round and curvy were exactly right. Not perfect. Just right.
And most likely, they had no idea. No idea in their youth and innocence they were just right. Because we had been there, and we had no idea.
We began remembering all of our summers together in the hot Kansas sun, how much we hated our bodies then. Never right.
And all three of us thought we were fat then. Not right. Needed fixing. Never good enough, always trying to change the skin we were in. And one of us, me, took the body hatred to abusing my body. To harming it and almost lost my life to an eating disorder.
We continued to stare at these girls and talk about what it was like to be a teenager and to feel all awkward and uncomfortable in your changing body, but as we watched these girls we were dying to tell them what we know now.
You are just right. Just as you are. And you are beautiful. Just as you are.
I almost marched right up to them to tell them to do it differently than I did.
Girls. Don’t you see how adorable you are? And my guess is you think you are fat. You think you don’t measure up. You think that you need to change and be like the other girl or the fashion model or the girl your crush likes. But, hear us in saying this, you will be chasing something that will never be found. The perfect body. The perfect shape. The perfect you. And then you will be 42 like us, and your body will be stretched from babies and surgeries and sun. Your muffin top will fall over your suit and you will need extra wire to hold up your saggy boobs. And even then, after all these years you will want it to be different. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You could love your body just as it is right now. You could enjoy it in its youth. You could celebrate the curves and the perkiness. Please, won’t you?
Because look at these statistics! This is so heartbreaking!
Then my girlfriend, after tiring of watching these little fawns in all their beauty, turned to us and said, “Ok, each one of us is going to say something we love about our own bodies.” We stared at her. What? Really?
“Not what we loved about each other’s bodies, but what we love about our own.” She said.
Trying to do now, what we wish we would have done then, in our sixteen-year-old skin.
What we wish we would have celebrated then, learning finally to celebrate now. That all six of us were beautiful. Not just the young girls, but us in our aging and sagging, we are beautiful too.
And so are you.
It does none of us any good to constantly be picking out our flaws and our bodies that don’t measure up.
Instead, let us celebrate the bodies we have been given.
Let us fuel them so they are strong and healthy and then let us use them to go out and love and care for one another.
Dove is promoting a campaign called #SPEAKBEAUTIFUL
I love it!
I am working on speaking beautiful to myself and others. I wasted so many years speaking harmful words to myself and I know many of you do as well. Let’s stop it.
Let’s spread this message of loving our own bodies and loving others as well.
Won’t you go out in the world today and #SPEAKBEAUTIFUL?