In fifth grade I stood with my hands on the counters, levitating myself above the scale. First my big toe, then my entire foot – what would the number be? I saw the real number and shuddered. No, that can’t be it. At ten years old I held onto the counter and lifted some of my weight off the scale to see the number plummet. A lower number, I was satisfied.
In sixth grade I refused to wear pants because I wouldn’t let anyone see the size of my thighs. I wore only long skirts and dresses. At home I would stand in front of the mirror and stare at my legs. Why? I thought to myself.
In seventh grade I had to go swimming. I wore long swim shorts so no one could see the real me. I pulled the swim shorts down so that they could practically reach my knees – only then was I comfortable, only then was I safe.
In eighth grade I stood in front of the mirror before changing and imagined cutting off the parts of my body I was not satisfied with: my hips, my stomach, my thighs. I wanted them to disappear, I did not want to be associated with those things anymore.
Let’s end the stigma around our bodies. Let’s not allow little girls to grow up thinking that their body parts are things to be hidden. Let’s celebrate health at every single size, because there is no one size fits all. Let’s stop advocating for diet fads and start celebrating everything in moderation. Let’s rewrite the story the way we want it to be:
In fifth grade I stood with my hands on the counters, staring at myself in the mirror and smiling. I noticed my curly brown hair and laughed – I loved how much I looked like my dad.
In sixth grade I wore skirts and long dresses because I loved the look of them. I loved how the fringe would flutter in the wind.
In seventh grade I got to go swimming and I wore my favorite swimsuit that my mom and I had picked out together before cannonballing into the lake.
In eighth grade I stood in front of the mirror before changing and said thank you to my body. Thank you stomach for digesting my food, thank you legs for allowing me to run, jump, and dance. I felt fortunate for my health, and appreciate of my body.