So, my roommate right after college once told me something that has stayed with me for ten years. Heather was a big time soccer player and around the age of ten or so, her mom said something about how strong and able Heather’s body was and how that would serve her well. In order to have the strength she needed to be the soccer player that she wanted to be, she might not have the same body type as other girls who didn’t participate in sports, but her body was going to be exactly what it needed to be to do what she most wanted. Heather went on to become a big time collegiate, Division soccer player—a forward—and she never suffered from body angst. There was never a moment where she wanted her body to look different or be different because her love was soccer, and she saw her body as a vehicle of strength and not an object to admire. Last night, at a reading, we talked a little about the pressure of bringing up girls today while our TV and magazines wallpaper their mediums with images of Lindsey, Paris, Nicole, and the Olsen twins, while Disney flaunts The Princess conglomerate, while Barbie is still a draw. When I left the reading, I was reminded of my Heather’s story and its significance. At a young age, Heather found something that she loved to do and she engrossed herself in it. Because she was so focused on this thing that she loved, she didn’t really have time to focus on whether or not she was thin enough, tan enough, blonde enough. She needed to practice, to run, to eat well, to sleep enough, to not put anything that would hurt her body into it. It’s no surprise that Heather was one of the healthiest people I knew, but there was no effort to it. She was just living a life guided by choices she had made at a much younger age. It is also no surprise that Heather’s beauty and body standards were all of her own making, and that she was one of the most confident people I knew because she had determined what she wanted rather than let someone else do that for her. So, here’s a question for you.
What is the best message or lesson you have been given about your body image and beauty perception? Looking back over your life, what comment or guidance made you feel the most hope, your most complete, your most satisfied? Which message echoes in your hear when you are trying to rid yourself of the racket? And how old were you, who said it, and in what context?
For everyone who shares their message by midnight EST on Tuesday, June 26, I’ll drop your name into the drawing for the next book contest giveaway. Three books put out by Seal Press— The Anti 9 to 5 Guide by Michelle Goodman, Waking Up American by Angela Jane Fountas, and Body Outlaws by Ophira Edut– will be sent out next week to three of you selected in the drawing. So share the good LOVE YOUR BODY insight that you have been given over the years so we can all learn from it.
FYI: The photo is of my beloved Heather and her sweet husband Ron, just after welcoming Anna to the world last month.