We’ve all read about how women should love their bodies and how media has a negative effect on women’s self image. I’m not here to write another article on the subject, because you already know that media worships skinny, and you already know that’s wrong. But that’s the way it is.
The girls in my high school are under insurmountable pressure to look a certain way. You have to be a certain size, a certain height. But we are all different, and here’s something that might surprise you: Every single girl on this planet has body issues—whether it’s feeling like we’re too fat, too skinny, too curvy, too flat.
No girl is completely OK with the way she looks. You might think a girl has a perfect body and that she must feel so confident, but she sees something completely different when she looks in the mirror. She has spent her whole life looking at her body and obsessing over the flaws she sees—just like other girls do when they look at their bodies.
We have to come to grips with our bodies, because no matter what kind of terrible things we put our bodies through trying to be perfect, we’re never going to feel perfect.
Why would I let something like not fitting into a size 2 hold me back? The size of my pants doesn’t affect how smart I am, how beautiful my face is, how well I play basketball, how much a boy likes me.
For some reason, there is this idea that if you aren’t thin enough, you’ll never find a good-looking man. That any successful, smart or attractive guy will think he deserves to be with a skinny girl. Untrue. Any self-respecting man wouldn’t worry what your stomach or hips look like (unless he’s a body builder, and that’s what he’s in to)—he’s going to look at how well you hold a conversation and if you two are compatible.
Good men—the kind you actually want to be with—don’t marry women based on looks. They are drawn to you because they like the way you look with pizza sauce on your face, the way you wrinkle your nose when you’re mad or the way you laugh.
Rebecca DiLiberto, producer and editor of The Ricki Lake Show, describes on the Huffington Post how she came to grips with being larger than the norm. “Do you realize how absurd it is to let your physical body affect your success in the nonsuperficial arenas of your life?” she writes. “Is one required to possess a law degree from Harvard in order to be qualified to host the Miss America pageant? No? Then why do you think you need to look like Miss America in order to pursue your law degree at Harvard?”
There is no correlation between your pant size and how well you do in school. We tend to think, “Yeah, we’re smart, but if we could be pretty and smart, everything would be perfect.” Again, untrue—nothing is perfect. At some point, you have to shove those negative thoughts to the back of your mind and focus on the positive things about yourself or else you’ll really never get anywhere in life.
When applying for a job, there isn’t a spot on the application for you to write down your dress size (unless you want to be on America’s Next Top Model—and that show sucks this season, anyway). Your employer will look at the things you’ve done with your life, and that’s all on paper. It doesn’t matter what your body or your face look like when it comes to being a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer.
You can’t wait until you drop 12 pant sizes to climb Mount Everest, apply for that job or take a trip to Brazil. That might never happen, and then you’ve missed out on unforgettable life experiences. You’ll end up 75 years old, sitting on the couch still unhappy with your body. And that’s the most tragic thing of all.
Maygan Straight is a senior at Payson High School. She originally wrote this column for The Lion’s Roar student paper.