Girls Hate Their Bodies
Why do girls hate their body from such a young age?
Blunt opening, I know, but it is a question that I cannot stop thinking about lately.
I remember the first time I was unhappy with my body in shocking lucidity. Before this point, I had never even thought about what my body looked like. I never thought that other girls were skinnier than I was, or what size clothes I wore. As I child in elementary school, I remember comparing heights with other students, but weight never crossed my mind until this point.
I was seven years old. I was staying at my grandparents’ house like I did every summer day and every evening after school while my parents worked. A girl, that was a year younger than I, lived down the street from my grandparents. On occasion, this girl would come down to my grandparents’ house and we would play, not unlike any other elementary school play date. I have a vivid memory of sitting on a bench outside in the hot afternoon sun. I had on a pair of purple shorts. I remember looking down at my friend and I’s thighs and noticing that my thighs were much larger than hers were. This was the first time I realized that I weighed more and was bigger than my peers. I have always had trouble with not hating my legs since this moment.
The sad and ironic thing about this, aside from the fact that I was a little seven year old girl with body loathing thoughts, was that this girl was not healthy. I do not think this girl had a comfortable living situation, and while I have not seen her for years, I have seen her other family members on the news being arrested for drugs and other activities. I of course do not know details of her family life, but for all I know, she could have been malnourished and not have had access to food. While I am blessed and lucky to have always had more than enough food provided to me, I was comparing myself to a fellow young, innocent, naïve girl who may have been under seriously sad conditions.
I had everything. I had food. I had people who loved and cared for me unconditionally. I had a roof over my head. I had clothes. I had a family who supported and encouraged my education. I had everything, but she was skinny, so I envied her.
As we get older, skinniness just becomes more and more glorified in the mass media. The entire culture is obsessed with weight loss, which causes everyone to question their own dietary and fitness habits, even if the habits they have in place are already working.
I did not have healthy eating habits for the majority of my life, and over the last year and a half, I have completely changed my lifestyle. This has been such an amazing switch in my life. I have tried so many more foods, and my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of fueling my body properly. I feel so much better about my new habits, and I now have a passion for cooking, nutrition, health, and helping others to have other healthy lifestyles.
Despite this, I often feel like I am being criticized for my habits. Because I am a total type A personality who is also a perfectionist, my drive to be healthy sometimes causes me to go a little overboard. If I do overindulge and eat food devoid of nutritional value, I begin to once again have self-loathing thoughts. I like to have control of things, so I find comfort in knowing the exact nutritional value of everything I put in my mouth, along with the number on the scale the next morning. I also like to please people. When I began to lose weight because of switching up my lifestyle, people asked if I was sick. I really do appreciate people’s concern for my health, but I honestly cannot stand people pointing out how much I do or do not eat. Not only is this annoying, it becomes even more toxic to my love of measurements and numbers.
I also just love how no matter how exciting things may be in my life, the first thing people bring up is my weight. Is that really all they think I have to offer? Does it matter that I just started my senior year and my first real college class that I am performing well in? Apparently not. No one asks about that. People ask if I am hungry.
When people ask or point out the quality or quantity of what I eat, I begin to focus more on how much I am putting in my body. If I realize what I have eaten is “a lot” or “not healthy,” I cannot lie, I become a little disgusted with myself. I can’t explain why, because it is irrational. It is not who I am. I believe people should eat what they want to eat, when they want to eat it, as long as they are aware of their indulgences taken in moderation.
This whole believing that people should eat what they want to eat thing, I believe other people should. For some reason, I sometimes don’t practice what I preach, and I make tons of excuses why I, personally, should not follow my advice and not strictly monitor what I eat. I think that people work out more often and more intensely than I do. I convince myself that I snack more than any normal person should. I think that other people’s metabolisms are probably faster than my own. I think these things because I am afraid of being imperfect, and I am afraid of seeing a number go up on a scale, and I am afraid of being “unhealthy.” Ridiculous, I know.
If you’re thinking, “Wow these teenage girls are dumb,” I understand where you come from, but this is not the reason for being uncomfortable with my weight. I do not care what others think about my body. I just don’t know what is right. My near obsession with food is fueled by my own struggle to find perfection that does not exist. This is the last type of perfection I should be striving for. I have so much more to offer the world than a small pant size.