Recently, I had the pleasure of spending the entire day with my best friend and her three daughters.
All of her girls are beautiful, but I resisted the urge to tell them so. I’ve read Lisa Bloom’s popular “How To Talk to Little Girls” over at Huffington Post, and I agree that there are far more valuable things to discuss with young girls besides their appearances... even if the sight of them makes my birth control pills spontaneously combust and my uterus weep actual tears.
Still, it got me thinking about what it's like to be a little girl in this world, trying to process the things that are said to you about how you "should" be or "should" look, all the while trying to form your own identity. I remembered something that people used to say to me as a girl, something that Bloom’s article didn’t mention.
As a Young Possessor of the Chub, I remember people constantly telling me "Don't worry, you'll hit puberty and thin out, then you'll be SUCH a beauty."
This statement proved to be problematic for several reasons.
For one, I felt uncomfortable when adults brought up my appearance, because although I wasn't aware of the fact that I should EVER be worried about it, the fact that adults were pointing it out made me feel like I had to be.
Two, it implied that I would have no ownership of who I was until the Magical Mystery Thinning of Adulthood happened. Only then, I supposed, could I start living a full life inside of my own body, a body that would be "better" than the one I already had.
Finally, and the point that was probably most affecting for me as a young woman: IT NEVER FUCKING HAPPENED.
I grew up, got taller, and discovered all the horrors (periods, pimples, erectally challenged manboys) and joys (boobs, hair prods, contemplative Livejournaling) of becoming a woman. I developed opinions, tastes, and a perfectly executed I Hate Everything About This Moment Teenage Side Eye.
But I never got thinner.
As I grew taller, I didn’t turn out like the piece of chewed gum that I used to imagine my body to be when I put it between my fingers and stretched, pulling and pulling until the middle was nothing but a thin filament with a perfect waist-to-hip ratio.
Instead, my weight grew with me and transformed into the glorious and massive stack of lady that you see before you today. And since my hormones managed to transform my body to reach its maximally large lady potential age 12, I spent a lot of years afterwards thinking, “Aww man, I’m not finished yet.”
As a result, I became with preoccupied with waiting for thinness, and it took a long time for me to fully actualize into who I really was as a person: Instead, I festered and waffled and waited for my body to change, because I thought that when it happened I'd finally be complete. I viewed thinness as my salvation, and by the time I realized it wasn’t going to happen the way people said it would, I had no idea how to proceed.
Looking back now, I realize how powerful people's words were, and how much of what they said affected the way I chose to approach adulthood.
So, in honor of my own adolescence, my rocky climb to adulthood, and my everlasting lifetime of chub, I’m going to take extra care in what I say to the young women and girls in my life, focusing on the wonderful qualities they are sure to cultivate when they’re finally not so worried about their how they look. I’ll engage with them on any other level besides the state of their appearance during ANY phase of their lives –- how it is now, how it was before, or how it might be one day.
Instead, we can talk about something else that might change as they grow up, something I can relate to, something such like their preference in cheese and their slow but steady transition from Kraft singles to Manchego with almonds and green olives.
Yep. I’m still fat.