High school was another world. 9th and 10th grade were the years I was consumed with my image. I was surrounded by so many pretty people. With their pretty lives, and their pretty grades. Their pretty boyfriends and their pretty faces.
I was 5’7”, 150 pounds soaking wet, and was probably in the best shape of my life because I was into basketball. I worked out every morning, running sprints until my lungs collapsed and pushing myself to unbelievable limits. I wasn’t the best player, but I worked hard, and I wish now I would have been more proud of that. I think I spent a lot of those last couple months on the team deeming myself as ugly and unimportant rather than seeing myself as strong and beautiful.
I remember one day I came home and got a composition notebook. and a couple of magazines. I cut out a picture of a tiny model in a swim suit, smiling and confident. Hair blowing in the wind, and not a blemish on her body. Then pasted it onto the front cover. I scanned threw the pages and cut out letters of different colors and sizes, then arranged them on the front to spell out “so I can be lovely”.
I challenged myself to eat as few calories a day as possible and would record them within the lines of the sheets. There was a certain satisfaction that came with adding up my meals to be less than 500. Trust me I know how absurd thats sounds. I know now, and I knew then. But I reasoned that if I could just endure a couple weeks, the hunger pains, and the fatigue, then I could have a body that others would deem lovely.
I look back at pictures of myself and I don’t even understand why I saw ugliness in the mirror. I literally think “what was I even doing?”But at the time I knew exactly what I was doing. I associated my ability to be accepted with my responsibility to look beautiful. I wish I could tell my younger self that my existence and my purpose was not about how desirable I was.
Let me just explain, that notebook didn’t last long. Mostly due to the fact that my mom would compliment my outfits daily, and my dad always greeted me by calling me beautiful. As I whispered horrible insults to myself, I was surrounded by people who cancelled them out. Not everyone is that blessed, or that lucky.
This stuggle was a short one for me, but one that I know many of us face at some point in our lives. And man, I hope that all of you reading this know that you are good enough by yourself. There is nothing that needs to be added or subtracted to you. You, alone, right now, are good enough. You’re value is not contingent on the affection or approval of others. It is inherent, and implicit and therefore the very fact that you matter can’t be taken away from you.
So listen, you are going to have rolls when you bend over and your going to hate that shirt you try on..then you’ll hate the next one, and the next. Your hips will hang over the roof of some of your jeans and your thighs won’t touch. But girl, you will still be absolutely, undeniably beautiful. So paint it on your mirrors, and on the back of your eyelids. Remind yourself everyday that your beauty is not equilvaent to how many calories you consume. Your lovliness is not determined by your size, but rather your soul. And when you are surrounded by all those pretty people that you understand that you good enough.
Because as it turns out, the word pretty is so unworthy of everything that you are. That five letter word can not contain you. Because you are pretty important. Pretty intelligent. Pretty creative. Pretty amazing. You are and nor will you ever be just simply pretty.