These are the words that Aibileen (in The Help, by Kathryn Stockett) says to the little girl she looks after, every day. A friend of mine and I were having a chat about diets and eating healthy and exercising more etc etc, and she relates to me that a woman (who had a beautiful niece) told my friend that she (my friend) has the ideal body type for a woman. After which it occurs to my friend, what if I stop worrying about what I eat or don’t eat, and start just being happy and accepting my body just the way it is. She is in her mid 20’s, and on the one hand it’s great that she had this realization now rather than 20 years from now, but on the other, what if she never learned she was supposed to be worried about her body?
I have never been a skinny person, hell I’ve never been relatively slender. All my siblings are/were skinny, my parents both when they were my age were “slender.” me…somehow I missed that boat. But I am in many ways thankful for that. Thankful that I never had to experience the horror of watching my waistline expand. I simply was the way I was. Growing up my friends and peers never said anything to me about my weight, it was a non-issue. Occasionally it would come up in conversations with my sister, my mom would approach it matter-of-factly when we went clothes shopping. But I was never told that I should lose weight, that I shouldn’t eat this or that, that I should exercise more, so for the longest time it never really occurred to me that perhaps I should be concerned about my body. Now of course puberty happens, when we all become more aware of our bodies due to the crazy things it starts doing. All through high school I would wonder sometimes what it would be like to be a “pretty” girl. I would wish perhaps that my hips weren’t so wide, my stomach would go away, my thighs would shrink and so-on and so forth. But in case you haven’t realized, that is exhausting! I am content with the way I am. I take myself as I am. I know that I am smart, I am beautiful, and sexy, I am funny and freaking adorable (as my husband just told me) and I am loved, just the way that I am. I wish so desperately that more women, more girls could be at peace with themselves and their bodies. I have to give my mom a lot of credit for the way I think about my body. She never obsessed about hers, never told us there was anything wrong with ours, and when we went clothes shopping she always made sure we found clothes that both fit and flattered us and never made a big deal about having to grab the next size up, and she taught us (or at least me) to do the same. I am so thankful for her, for teaching us to be this way, she has saved us much unnecessary agony in front of the mirror, and future daughters and little girls in my life.
Now I’m not saying that I simply sit around all day and don’t make any effort to improve my health. Because I do try to be aware of what I am eating, and try not to be a total couch potato. But I’m not going to kill myself or make myself miserable or guilty over the food that I eat or the exercise I do, or don’t do. Life simply wasn’t meant to be lived like that? What’s the point of being “pretty” if you’re not happy?
besides, I was friends with a “pretty” girl once…do you know how much time they spend making themselves pretty???!!! I am lucky if I brush my hair in the morning. Usually it just ends up back in it’s half-bun pony-tail thing, with perhaps a quick brush to tame the bedhead….and makeup? maybe once a month, MAYBE. Deodorant is the only thing I apply frequently and obsessively and well that’s just a matter of hygiene.